After a year with no one leading fund-raising efforts at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, the school announced Friday that Lee Williams would be the interim regional vice chancellor for advancement.
Williams, who has worked with Karen Holbrook, a senior adviser to USF System President Judy Genshaft, said she has worked in fund-raising at public and private universities for more than 25 years.
“My strategy is basically good old-fashioned fund-raising through face-to-face connections in the community,” Williams said. “The best quality an exceptional fundraiser can exhibit is the ability to listen and respond to folks who are interested.”
My strategy is basically good old-fashioned fund-raising through face-to-face connections in the community.
- Lee Williams, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee’s new interim regional vice chancellor for advancement
A press release from the university said one of Williams’ “immediate, high-priority goals is to raise capital for USFSM’s planned STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) building.” She will also focus on Brunch on the Bay, the school’s key fundraiser for scholarships, and she will continue drumming up support for the USF women’s rowing team.
“Expect also to see her at many of Sarasota-Manatee’s important social events in coming months,” the press release states.
Williams takes the helm of a fund-raising operation that has struggled for several years.
In February, trustees on the USF board questioned why the Sarasota-Manatee campus kept missing its fundraising goals. Since 2011 the school had planned on raising $20.3 million, but since that time has only raised $7.4 million. In 2016-17 the school’s goal was to raise $2.15 million, and it brought in $1.6 million.
$20.3 million the total amount USFSM has hoped to raise since 2011
In May, USFSM alumnus Bill Mariotti announced he would donate $3.5 million to the USF system when he died, with a large amount of the money going to the Sarasota-Manatee campus. It would be the largest donation in the school’s history, but the 56-year old Mariotti’s gift won’t likely be coming any time soon.
Williams’ position is an interim one because the school is still looking for a regional chancellor to lead the school after former chancellor Sandra Stone’s resignation in March, school spokesman Charlie Terenzio said. Williams said she would likely have the role for at least a year and they would re-evaluate once the new chancellor was hired.
$7.4 million the total amount USFSM has actually raised since 2011
“We want the new chancellor to have a say in who is here and be closely tied to the fund-raising efforts,” Terenzio said. “Obviously Lee is already hard at work, so hopefully when we announce the new regional chancellor they will be able to come in and piggyback on what Lee and her team have started on.”
Williams previously worked at at the USF Foundation in Tampa, and held fund-raising positions at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Mississippi State University, George Washington University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
“I am delighted to work with Lee again,” said Holbrook, who worked with Williams at Embry-Riddle.
“She has a passion for USFSM, appreciates the remarkable potential of this university and is already engaged in our community,” she said. “Her enthusiasm and energy fit perfectly with this vibrant, growing institution.”
Williams encouraged any community members interested in learning how they can give to call her directly at 941-359-4582.