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Rob Rudd Is Restoring Alumni’s Connections to Their Alma Mater
For the past year and a half, Rob Rudd has spent his free time restoring a 250-year-old former malt-making establishment in Delaware County into his home. The project sits adjacent to a field that General George Washington’s troops used to rest after the Battle of Brandywine during the American Revolution. The house has evolved over the years from its origins to a metal manufacturing facility to a tollhouse for old Route 1 and, for the last 100 years, to a residence. For the most part, Rudd has been undertaking all aspects of the restoration himself.
And now as vice president of institutional advancement, Rudd is taking on another restoration project in rebuilding USciences’ connections to it alumni and friends.
“If you think about all the disparate places I worked—zoos, museums, universities—they all shared a need to build a comprehensive fundraising program, and that’s what really intrigued me about coming to USciences,” Rudd said.
Rudd joined USciences in August 2017 after eight years at the University of Delaware where giving to the university increased from $25 million annually to over $70 million in part due to his efforts. In addition to managing the university’s comprehensive efforts to connect and partner with corporations and foundations worldwide, Rudd managed the college-based major gift fundraising programs for three years and was responsible for major gifts to the provost’s initiatives. He also pioneered the university’s effort to partner with companies in Asia, resulting in research funding from Chinese corporate partners. Prior to joining Delaware in 2009, Rudd had a long career in fundraising management for museums, zoos, and a library.
One of Rudd’s first challenges is to reconnect alumni with USciences.
“There’s no direct mail scheme, no internet ability to connect with people on a level that we want to connect with,” Rudd said. “And so, we have to get on the road to listen to ensure that we are making progress and, in essence, reconnecting alumni with their University.”
Almost from the first day he started, Rudd has quite literally been hitting the road to meet with alumni while simultaneously building and shaping a team that is responsible for development, alumni relations, and University events. Rudd has been impressed by the success and achievements of the alumni he has met as well as their deep interest in current students.
“We need to do a better job of ensuring that students and alumni aren’t two very different groups never in contact with one another,” Rudd assessed. “You should never be only a student and only an alumnus. We are ultimately all a part of University of the Sciences.”
One area for improvement lies in keeping track of where alumni are and what they are doing. This will make it easier to find alumni to mentor students and arrange internship opportunities so that, as graduates, students are afforded the same pathways to success that alumni had been given.
“I am very, very confident that we will be successful in engaging alumni and friends of the University and get them interested,” he said. “We have not done a very good job of asking for their help on all fronts and in all areas.”
Like the house he is restoring nail by nail, Rudd know that rebuilding alumni outreach will be accomplished one by one by one.
Categories: The Bulletin, Alumni, Profiles, Staff, Giving