The University at Buffalo is in the "quiet phase" of a major fund drive. To manage the effort, the university has hired veteran public higher education fundraiser, Rod Grabowski.
There's a been no announced goal or even announcement of a drive or its start, but in naming Grabowski as the new new vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement, it's clear UB will be conducting a major fundraising initiative.
Most recently, Grabowski ran a billion-dollar drive at the University of Cincinnati. It exceeded its goal by 10 percent. He also enjoyed success with a major effort at the University of South Florida.
"So many people that I talk with, like myself, have been transformed because of that higher education," Grabowski said.
"I'm a first-generation high school graduate, let alone college graduate, and I wouldn't be having this conversation with you today if I had not received a college degree."
Grabowski is from Oswego County, went to Syracuse University and then started as a fund-raiser with Alfred University.
His experience provides a clear understanding of what inspires donors.
"It's not a transaction. So, it's getting to know these people and getting to understand what's important to them and trying to connect them with potential projects that they might be interested in funding," Grabowski explained.
"But, culturally, the United States oftentimes is much quicker to make philanthropic decisions than other cultures around the world."
He says one constant in higher education fund drives is raising money for scholarships and for endowed professorships which bring in scholars. Though he has had a lengthy career in the field, this is the first time he has raised money for the top tier of U.S. and Canadian research universities, the Association of American Universities.