I write to announce that Vice-President (Advancement) O'Neil Outar has accepted the position of senior associate dean and director of development for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and will be leaving the University of Alberta as of August 31, 2014. In his new position, O’Neil will lead the fundraising enterprise for the largest of Harvard’s seven faculties; the Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Continuing Education, as well as libraries, museums, and athletics.
Since his arrival in 2010, O'Neil has shown tremendous leadership in organizing and professionalizing the U of A’s first Advancement portfolio. During his tenure, the U of A has raised more than half a billion dollars. A single-year record was set in 2011-2012 with $163 million raised.
Record numbers of alumni donors and volunteers are now engaged with the university through a variety of strategies and initiatives, including the “Do Great Things” campaign, Venture Mentoring Service, and several new alumni outreach programs. During O’Neil’s tenure, alumni engagement has increased by more than 40 per cent. A renewed Alumni Association Charter is in place and the impact of our alumni in the broader community has been powerfully captured through the Alumni Impact Survey released in September 2013. Under O’Neil’s leadership, the Advancement team has won numerous awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for work ranging from “Together We Can”—the U of A’s most recent institutional fundraising video—to the case for support for the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, to numerous articles, design features, and photographs produced for our alumni magazine, New Trail.
O’Neil has also successfully implemented new administrative systems within Advancement to better allocate resources, inform goals, and measure outcomes. These have been, and will continue to be, instrumental in setting and charting the course for the U of A’s next major fundraising campaign. Most important, he has created an integrated, sustainable, and successful organization of talented Advancement professionals across the university whose work will continue to build a strong and diversified funding and advocacy base for the university well into the future.
Upon O’Neil’s departure, Colm Renehan, current Associate Vice-President (Office of University Development), will take on the role of Interim Vice-President (Advancement), subject to approvals. As AVP, Colm has been responsible for co-ordinating university-wide priorities, managing outreach to leading individual donors, and overseeing major gifts, as well as annual and planned giving. Colm has 25 years of experience in advancement. Prior to coming to the U of A, Colm served as Vice-President for Advancement at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., and before that held senior fundraising portfolios at MIT. He holds a bachelor degree in social science from University College in Dublin, two master’s degrees—one in social work from Temple University and the second in management from Lesley University—and a PhD in higher education administration from Boston College.
In closing, I wish to thank O'Neil Outar for creating a "best in class" Advancement portfolio, one that has attracted a great team and garnered external recognition. I am grateful to O'Neil for putting in place the scaffolding on which the U of A can continue to build and escalate its fundraising and alumni relations enterprise. My congratulations to O'Neil on his new position at Harvard, and on behalf of all of the members of the U of A community, I extend our best wishes for his future success.
Indira V. Samarasekera
President and Vice-Chancellor