Engineering development team offers both experience and fresh perspectives
Carla Wiedmier, the MU College of Engineering’s new executive director of advancement, has known since her very first job in the development office at William Penn University that she had discovered her career.
“I always wanted to go to college and was the first person in my family to have that opportunity,” she said. “I don’t know that I could do fundraising in any other arena. It’s what I am passionate about.”
Her passion led her to development positions at Central College in Pella, Iowa, and colleges of engineering at both Iowa State and Oklahoma State universities.
“There’s not an area of development I haven’t worked in — prospect research, gift entry, major gifts, planned gifts…” Wiedmier enumerated.
With the addition of Liz Townsend Bird, director of development, to the College of Engineering last spring, Wiedmier’s team, which also includes Senior Directors of Development Greg Cecil and Shawn Poore, is fully staffed.
“We’ve assembled an experienced team,” Wiedmier said. Combined, the four have 56 years of higher education fundraising experience.
“With Carla on board, the team is fully staffed,” said Townsend Bird. “The fact that we have both established institutional knowledge and fresh perspectives makes us a great team.”
Wiedmier has set some goals for the engineering development team.
“We’re going to get out in more areas more often to meet our alums. We’d especially like to engage new alumni in our efforts,” she said.
In addition to becoming more familiar to alumni, Wiedmier said she intends to work within the college to engage faculty, staff and students. “We need to be visible so they know what we do. If we talk to students now about the importance of giving back, they’ll better understand what we do when they get a call in the future.”
As far as funding priorities, Wiedmier said a new building remains at the top of the list.
“With the increase in enrollment, scholarships are a priority, and we’d also like to increase endowed chairs and professorships for the departments,” she added.
Wiedmier believes in building strong relationships with our alumni.
“It’s not always about the money. If people know you are sincere and passionate about their alma mater, they’ll tell you what they are interested in supporting.
“I love interacting with the alumni. I still keep in touch with a lot of the people I’ve visited with during my years in advancement. I have developed a number of great friends over the years,” Wiedmier said.
The development team’s new leader said it is her personal philosophy that if she is going to raise money for the University of Missouri, she needs to be able to say that she also is a donor.
“I’ve done that everywhere I work,” Wiedmier said.
Townsend Bird said she came to development from retail management looking for something a little more meaningful that could make a difference in the lives of others. Coming to Mizzou Engineering after more than six years as a fundraiser for the College of Engineering at K-State, she is eager to put her experience to work.
“I’m looking forward to fostering some strong and rewarding relationships, especially with some of those who have not been engaged with the college,” Thompson Bird said.
“It’s fun meeting people and learning about their lives and how they got where they are,” said Cecil. “Engineering is fascinating. There are things happening here that aren’t happening other places.”
Cecil agrees that the size of the gift is not always the bottom line in fundraising.
“Making connections with alumni and getting them involved in their alma mater is what’s most important — and rewarding. I enjoy raising money to create opportunities for students,” said Cecil.
Poore said he truly enjoys being able to go out and discuss the things that are happening at the university with engineering alumni.
“Talking to them brings that Mizzou story full circle,” he said, adding he also gets a great sense of satisfaction working with alumni as they create legacies by giving back to the college.
“And it also means that the things I work on will have a lasting effect,” Poore added.
Wiedmier and the members of her team are busy trying to meet as many College of Engineering alumni as possible. “We hope that when they are back on campus, they’ll stop in and let us know,” she said.