John Lippincott, president emeritus of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, teaches a
Philanthropy and Development class.

Philanthropy and Development students return for summer session

Fundraisers, leaders and nonprofit professionals from across the country convened on campus in July for the second summer chapter of the college's new Philanthropy and Development master's degree program.

"It is so exciting to see the growth of this endeavor," said Jeff Lukken, Administrative Director of Graduate and Degree Completion Programs. "We welcomed students this year from all points of the compass – word is spreading about the quality of our professors and courses."

Especially thrilling is the expansion of the faculty, he said, including John Lippincott, president emeritus of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

"He is respected all over the world for his expertise and knowledge," Lukken said. "He has spent his career helping schools, colleges and universities strengthen their fundraising, alumni relations, communications and marketing operations. We are so lucky to have him."

The quality of the professors impressed and inspired participants in the program.

"Having John Lippincott was huge," said Jim Caskey, vice president for advancement at Goshen (Ind.) College. "But all of the professors are practitioners and researchers who are actually working in the field. It's not just theory and books, we are learning from their real experiences."

Kevin Callahan, chief development officer for a health system in Winchester, Va., agreed.

"Many of the instructors have multiple decades of hands-on experience," he said. "These people are educators but they are also fundraisers who understand the challenges and opportunities of what we do. They have a huge amount of credibility and they are really good teachers."

Other faculty members include Holly Hall from the Chronicle of Philanthropy; Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek, president and CEO of Washburn University Foundation; renowned development executive Dr. Tom Thomsen; Will Jones, Vice President for External Relations at LaGrange; Dr. David Ahearn, religion professor and ethicist; Dr. Sharon Livingston, education professor and researcher; and Nancy Brown, an independent consultant in charitable estate planning.

Hall said there are many things that make the LaGrange program stand out.

"Students have the opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the most influential professionals in the field," she said. "The classes are of a very manageable size, so students get a lot of one-on-one attention. And there is no other program like this in the Southeast."

Many of the students said they are receiving much more than they expected.

Jennifer Thomasson, director of development for a school in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., said she initially thought the degree would just be something good to put on her resume.
"But now I see what I do is so much deeper," she said. "It's completely turned everything I thought I knew upside down. I feel like I'm a completely different person after these two weeks."

Members of the first class have been so inspired by their studies that they wanted to do something to give back.

Philanthropy and Development Students
Members of the inaugural class of the Philanthropy and Development master's program are donating a tree to replace the one lost last year in a storm. Pictured are, front row, Elizabeth Ponder, Shanna Brumbelow, Sarah Swain, Wendell Clark, Erica Hart, Kathy McCollum and Jim Caskey; back row, Nick Beamenderfer, Kendal Wallace, Jackson Daniel, Nate Crawford and John Harrell.
"Last year, we purchased 'The Giving Tree,' a book by Shel Silverstein," said Sarah Swain, director of giving at a college in North Carolina. "The tree's act of selfless love and giving is symbolic of our work in the field of philanthropy.

"At the end of our first immersion session last summer, we each wrote words of encouragement and advice for future Philanthropy and Development students. This year, we shared the book with Cohort (Class) 2 and invited them to write their words of inspiration in the book and pass it along to Cohort 3," she said. "We hope this will be a tradition for our program."

They also wanted to give back to LaGrange College.

Last year, just before the first cohort arrived on campus, a giant oak tree next to Smith Hall was felled by a strong windstorm. In the spirit of "The Giving Tree," the inaugural class will be replacing it with a crape myrtle.

"The tree represents our appreciation to the school for supporting us in our profession and the field of philanthropy," Swain said.

The class also purchased a copy of "The Giving Tree" that they signed and donated to Frank and Laura Lewis Library.

Jones said he is proud of what the students are accomplishing and is enthusiastic about the future of the program.

"We have an accomplished faculty and a strong group of students," he said. "We have fundraising leaders from California to Louisiana to Georgia and beyond. It will be exciting to see how far our graduates will go in their careers with this degree, and to see all of the good they will do around the world."

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