Release Date: November 21, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Rodney M. Grabowski, a highly accomplished fundraising executive with more than 25 years of experience, has been named vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement at the University at Buffalo.
Grabowski’s appointment, announced today by UB President Satish K. Tripathi, followed a national search and is effective Dec. 4.
“We are thrilled to welcome Rod Grabowski to our university family,” Tripathi said. “Now more than ever, it is critical that we harness the power of philanthropy and alumni engagement from every corner of our community to achieve our vision of excellence for UB. With a successful career spanning nearly three decades, Rod has the depth of skills and breadth of strategic experience to accomplish just that.
“He is acutely aware that inspiring greater philanthropic giving and alumni engagement means the difference between being a very good public research university and being in the highest tier of public research universities,” Tripathi added. “And he has the demonstrated record of exemplary leadership to help us realize these ambitious and transformative goals.”
Grabowski will serve as the university’s senior officer for philanthropy and alumni engagement, working closely with the president, provost, deans, executive director of the UB Foundation and other university leaders and volunteers to guide the work of philanthropy and alumni engagement at UB.
“Rod’s prior success in articulating the value and importance of philanthropy and alumni engagement adds significant strength to UB’s senior leadership team and to the UB and Western New York communities,” said A. Scott Weber, UB vice president for student life and chair of the search committee.
“While we had many strong candidates for the position, the search committee felt that Rod brought a unique understanding of UB’s dynamic role and value to the region and beyond. I have no doubt that his leadership will further elevate the Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement at UB, and I look forward to his joining the university community.”
Under Grabowski’s leadership, the university will seek to increase overall fundraising outcomes, with an emphasis on developing and implementing strategies for securing more and larger major gifts, particularly from individuals, but also from corporations and foundations.
Grabowski will work to successfully conclude a comprehensive campaign currently underway to help advance UB, one of the nation’s leading public research universities, to the next level of excellence. The university’s campaign is focused on supporting faculty through endowed professorships, increasing student scholarships and improving the physical environment for teaching and research.
He also will direct university-wide efforts to strengthen UB’s relationships with more than 255,000 alumni worldwide, with the goal of increasing participation in all university alumni engagement programs and engaging alumni as lifelong and involved partners.
Grabowski said that during the interview process for the position he was “thoroughly impressed with the passion, vision and direction of the University at Buffalo as expressed by the volunteers, staff and leadership of UB.”
“I am excited to join President Tripathi as we work together to strengthen philanthropy and alumni engagement that will benefit the students, faculty and programs at UB,” he said. “The University at Buffalo has a strong history and an exciting future that will be certain to enhance Western New York, the nation and world for decades to come.”
Grabowski formerly served at the University of Cincinnati, where he was president of the University of Cincinnati Foundation, as well as vice president of advancement at the university and president and CEO of the UC Health Foundation. At Cincinnati, Grabowski successfully concluded the Proudly Cincinnati $1 billion campaign, surpassing the goal by 10 percent in 2013. He was responsible for raising more than $200 million annually and substantially surpassed base fundraising goals each year, which grew from $170 million in fiscal year 2014 to $258.9 million in fiscal year 2016.
He led a team to develop comprehensive proposals to donors that resulted in multiple seven-figure gifts in 2016, including the largest gift ever to the Innocence Project ($15 million) and Linder College of Business building gifts of $11 million and $5 million, and a $5 million gift toward renovating the university’s athletic arena.
A native of Phoenix, N.Y., Grabowski began his career in higher education fundraising at Alfred University, where he served as senior development officer and associate director of annual giving and alumni relations. He was an integral member of the university’s campaign management team and assisted in the planning and coordination of the $70 million New Millennium Campaign.
Search committee member Liesl Folks, PhD, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said she is delighted Grabowski is joining UB’s leadership team.
“I very much look forward to working with Rod to achieve our goals of growing the support base for the university’s mission and increasing alumni engagement,” Folks said.
“His broad experience in philanthropy and alumni engagement at top-ranked institutions is going to be tremendously valuable as a resource. I am confident that he will fit right in with our culture, too, given his prior Western New York experience. I’m excited to welcome him to campus and to partner with him to do great things.”
Michael Anderson, BA ’97, president of the UB Alumni Association who also served on the search committee, said Grabowski’s extensive background in philanthropy stood out among committee members.
“Rod brings an abundance of experience in philanthropic development, as well as successful collaboration among faculty, staff and alumni constituent groups,” said Anderson, area retail leader, vice president at Key Bank Corporation. “His leadership experience will be integral in driving UB strategic initiatives in the years ahead.”
Prior to his tenure at the University of Cincinnati, Grabowski served at the University of South Florida (USF) as senior associate vice president for advancement and campaign director, where he was responsible for the overall management of the university’s $600 million fundraising campaign. He also served as interim vice president and CEO of the USF Foundation and as the university’s associate vice president for central development. At USF, Grabowski led the university’s advancement operation, which secured a university record $111.6 million in gifts in fiscal year 2011, surpassing the previous record by more than $30 million.
He also served as associate vice president for development, and director of constituent programs and planned giving at the University of North Florida, and as executive director of development at Jacksonville University. His leadership helped both institutions to complete comprehensive campaigns.
Grabowski is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CRFE) who earned an MBA from the University of North Florida. He is an alumnus of Syracuse University, earning a bachelor of arts degree in international relations. His volunteer and service accomplishments include several committee roles and presentations for the Association of Fundraising Professionals and CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. An Eagle Scout, he is active in the Boy Scouts of America.