Baylor University President Ken Starr said Monday he thinks the school’s newly selected fundraising head will bring some stability to a critical administration position that has had a revolving rotation of appointees in recent years.
Kenneth Hall, president emeritus of Buckner International, has been appointed senior vice president for university development and strategic initiatives, Baylor announced Monday.
His duties will include securing gifts and private funding to support Baylor projects and programming.
“I’m coming in with my eyes wide open and understanding not only the challenges but, more importantly, I really do understand the opportunities,” Hall said. “Baylor has the greatest alumni base in the world, we just need to challenge them. I want to do everything I can to build bridges to all the people who love Baylor and ask them to invest in our future.”
Hall, who begins work Jan. 1, will become the fourth person in the past decade to hold the post.
Jerry Haag resigned from the position in March after serving in the role just less than a year, opting to return to his position as president of nonprofit Florida Baptist Children’s Homes.
Before Haag, Dennis Prescott led the university’s fundraising for three years beginning in 2007. Richard Scott filled the role for nearly 10 years before being pressured to resign in 2006 by then-President John Lilley.
“There’s no question that stability is important for any organization, including our development shop,” Starr said. “Ken shows, by his experience as a highly successful CEO for 19 years, that he knows how to get into an organization and to build it in a really powerful and effective way.”
During Hall’s tenure, Buckner International’s endowment grew to $200 million, according to a Baylor press release. Hall also oversaw nearly $200 million in capital improvements for the nonprofit and steered its international expansion.
Buckner is a Dallas-based organization that seeks to improve living conditions and the well-being of orphans, vulnerable children and families worldwide, according to its website.
Starr said Hall likely can tap into the connections he made through Buckner to drum up more donors for Baylor, but he’s banking on Hall bringing new strategies and creativity into cultivating gifts.
Hall, 61, said he expects that raising money for Baylor will vary greatly from his experience generating donations for a social services ministry. But Hall said he thinks the university can use the same approach of tapping into Christian groups and supporters for financial help.
“I think as we emphasize Baylor’s distinctive Christian mission, it certainly enhances our ability to reach into the Christian philanthropic community, even more so than our alumni base, as important as that is,” Hall said.
“We want to reach the broader Christian world to see this extraordinary jewel that’s in Waco we have called Baylor . . . and I think there will be a lot of investors that will want to come along and help us in our missions.”
Baylor is in the middle of several major projects, like the new on-campus football stadium construction. Starr said fundraising for that effort, as well as building a new business school facility and creating more student scholarships, are among his top priorities.
Hall said building the university’s endowment will be his main objective, as one goal of the university’s new “Pro Futuris” strategic plan is to offer quality education at affordable rates.
The school’s endowment hit about $1.3 billion at the end of 2011, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said.
The university previously aimed to build the endowment to $2 billion under the Baylor 2012 10-year strategic plan, but Hall said the focus now is on tapping into different streams of donor gifts rather than working toward a specific fundraising goal.
For example, Hall said he wants to become more aggressive in securing estate gifts from alumni and community supporters.
Another strategy would be to focus on small, niche fundraising drives to quickly build the endowment, like the three-year, $100 million President’s Scholarship Initiative Starr kicked off in 2010. Nearly $70 million already has been raised for that effort so far, according to Baylor officials.
Hall retired as CEO and president of Buckner International in April.
In 2009, he chaired the 10-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee that ultimately selected Starr to lead the university.
He was appointed to Baylor’s board of regents in June as one of the selections by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which nominates 25 percent of the board. Hall resigned from the board before he accepted the vice president post.