University explores adding new VP

Curt Bettebenner is glad about the ripples his retirement is creating.

With Bettebenner, executive director of the Missouri Southern Foundation, leaving in September 2009, Southern could be seeing the emergence of a new position: a vice president for University advancement.

“I’m kind of pleased that my retirement is the catalyst that will get us moving down that road,” he said. “If you look around, that’s pretty much the industry standard.”

Though no official decision has been made, creation of the new position is in the early stages. The new vice president could oversee Foundation fundraising, the Alumni Association, University Relations and Marketing and sit on the President’s council. Currently the Foundation operates as a separate entity with a Board staffed by volunteers. While the Foundation legally must be separated from the University, the vice presidents position would bring the President and the Foundation closer together, a move University President Bruce Speck supports.

“It give’s a little more authority and responsibility where it should be,” Speck said. “If the President is tasked with making sure that there is money being raised for the University, then the President can’t be put in a situation where the employees doing it don’t report to him.”

Speck said it is essential for the new vice president to be a “professionally trained fundraiser,” and he is willing to invest in the approximately $100,000 per-year position.

“You couldn’t afford to give people raises, why are you hiring a new VP?’ That’s going to be the immediate criticism, I can hear it already,” Speck said. “But the fact is that’s the future for this institution.”

With state funding for higher education expected to remain flat for the next few years, Speck and Bettebenner agree that fundraising will be an essential part of keeping Southern competitive.

“I think it’s something that’s going to be critical to our success,” Bettebenner said. “We’re behind the power curve on this.”

Speck hopes the potential new hire, who could begin work as early as September 2009, will be able to work on alumni outreach, and marketing the University along with fundraising efforts.

“That person is going to be very very busy,” Speck said. “It is imperative that we get someone who is professionally trained, and they can come in and hit the ground running.”