Deacon to Serve on UCSB Campaign

Jennifer Deacon, the Bren School's assistant dean of development, was recently named Acting Senior Director of Development for Campaign Operations for The Campaign for the University of California, Santa Barbara. She will continue with her regular duties at Bren but will play a key role in supporting the university's campaign. Jennifer recently provided some details on the new post.

Q: Congratulations on being named to this important role in The Campaign for UCSB. The campaign began in 2005. Can you talk about the projected timeline and the goal of this next phase?

A: Planning for Phase I of the campaign started in 1997 and has raised $630 million so far. Phase II will probably continue until 2017. The goal of the expanded campaign, which will commence in spring, is to enlist and enroll the greatest number of UCSB donors and advocates to support the campaign so that we can transform this campus in ways that will enable UCSB to achieve its long-term goals. To that end, and to ensure that potential donors can identify areas of support with which they identify strongly, the campaign has been organized around five themes:

  • Educating Citizens for California and a Global Society
  • Inventing the Future by Fueling New Discoveries
  • Developing Solutions for a Sustainable World
  • Enhancing Culture and Community
  • Cultivating Leaders and Champions

How were the campaign themes developed?

In this second phase of the campaign, we need to make our case with clarity and an appropriate sense of urgency so that those in the donor community understand the value of this extraordinary institution and what’s at risk if we fail to support it going forward in the next decade. To that end, deans, unit directors and the Chancellor, began thinking deeply about just what it is that we do here. The resulting campaign themes reflect that and show the on-campus community that no matter where you are here, your perspective is being expressed by one or more of the themes, while providing potential donors with touch points that fit their interests.

Our goal now is to build out those themes so that potential supporters understand not only the broad goals and concepts, but also the specifics of programs, initiatives, and other activities within them. So if you want to know what’s under the hood when you lift a campaign theme, such as Developing Solutions for a Sustainable World, you’re going to see specific activities, initiatives, collaborations, and other actions and operations articulated in terms of the needs of the Bren School, the Institute for Energy Efficiency, Materials Science, EEMB or other research centers on campus.

If you want to look at the details of the other themes, you’ll find them. “Enhancing Culture and Community,” for instance, gets at Arts & Lectures, the steady stream of visitors and guests who come through our campus, and the domestic and global diversity represented by such departments as Black Studies, Chicano Studies, Jewish Studies, East Asian Language and Cultural Studies, Feminist Studies, and German, Slavic and Semitic Studies.

The “Cultivating Leaders and Champions” theme encompasses a variety of programs from athletics to Engineering’s Technology Management Program and teacher training at the Givertz Graduate School of Education – all elements that position our students as leaders in the world of business and industry or through athletic achievement.

And that’s what we’re doing this year, identifying and articulating the specific needs that align with the various themes so that donors will understand how it all ties together and we can enlist and enroll the greatest number of people from the broadest range of interests to invest.

Can you speak about the importance of the campaign in light of California’s ongoing budget challenges?

We are a world-class university, and the UC system is perhaps the most emulated public university system in the world. But because of the state budget situation, there have been a lot of cutbacks in the system, and more are planned. In the past eight months, $650 million have been cut from the UC budget for the 2011-12 academic year. Those cuts put at risk our ability to continue to do some of the extraordinary things we’re currently doing, so there is indeed a sense of urgency to this work.

This is an amazing institution. On the one hand, we are extremely strong in the sciences, both within and across disciplines: UCSB is home to what promises to be transformative biomedical research, we have the number-one material sciences department in the world, and we’re at the leading edge of research on the environment and energy efficiency, to name only a few areas of strength. But it is not only about the sciences. Our students also receive a strong grounding in history and the humanities, which provides them with the broad context of human endeavor and the critical-thinking skills required for them to become innovative leaders and penetrating researchers who can solve problems in unique areas of specialization.

How did you come to receive this new position, which is in addition to your ongoing role as the Bren School’s assistant dean of development, and what is your role?

Vice Chancellor of Development Gary Granke’s retirement created a void that needed to be filled, especially as we prepared to move into the enhanced campaign in spring 2012. Chancellor Yang asked 20-year development veteran Beverly Colgate to serve as Acting Associate Vice Chancellor – and asked me to take on campaign operations. A national search is now underway for the Associate Vice Chancellor for Development. Dean David Marshall is chair the search committee and Bren School Professor Arturo Keller is serving on the committee.

I’ve been asked to coordinate the regional team of development officers, those fundraisers who support large constituencies of donors in Northern California, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. We have alumni and donors around the world, but those are the areas of highest concentration, so we’re engaging fundraisers who represent the university in those areas to make the case for supporting the campaign. My role will be to work with the chancellor, the UCSB Foundation Board, and the regional teams to ensure that we are all on the same page in terms of messaging the campaign. In addition to helping with campaign messaging, my role is to get all of the campus and regional teams working together, and to engage the deans and the chancellor in meeting with both longtime donors and potential new donors who many never have heard of our campus or know little about it, so that they’ll be awed by the things that are going on here.

I’ll be traveling more and taking the broader campus message on the road. And as always, I’ll be promoting the Bren School message within the context of the relevant themes and all the other great stories on the UCSB campus.

It sounds as though you’ll have a full plate for a while.

I will, but I’m excited. It’s a great time to be at the university.