Posting Date: October 31, 2011
Vice president for advancement resigns after nearly a decade of service
Dean Joseph D. Meeks named interim vice president
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Wesley K. Wicker
Joseph D. Meeks
KENNESAW, Ga.—Wesley K. Wicker is stepping down as Kennesaw State University’s vice president for advancement after 10 years of service. His last day is Oct. 31.
Wicker is credited with leading the university’s first-ever comprehensive capital campaign. Launched in October 2007, the five-year capital campaign, “The New Faces of Kennesaw State,” raised $77 million, 15 months ahead of schedule. Several major campaign gifts received this summer –– including a $500,000 scholarship pledge, and an anonymous gift of $250,000 to the College of the Arts’ theatre program –– all pushed the campaign beyond its $75 million goal ahead of the initial October 2012 target date.
“While we are sad to see Wes go, he leaves behind the legacy of a very successful capital campaign that will benefit Kennesaw State University students, faculty and staff for many years to come,” KSU President Daniel S. Papp said. “Campaign funds have enabled Kennesaw State to add numerous student scholarships, construct much-needed buildings and facilities, and fund research to record levels.”
During the campaign, KSU raised the largest grant the university has received and the largest single private contribution ($5 million from an anonymous donor). It also raised 14 gifts of at least $1 million each.
“I’ve been here almost 10 years and it seemed like a good time to make a transition both professionally and personally,” Wicker said. “Deciding to leave was difficult, but I felt like hitting the campaign goal was a milestone. I would have liked to see football happen during my time here, but to have had a part in impacting hundreds of students through the 89 new scholarships we’ve funded since 2007 is very rewarding.
Wicker cites the construction of the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center, the acquisition of the Athos Menaboni art collection, the campus installation of Spaceship Earth and the donation of Corra Harris’property in Bartow County among the more unique gifts he’s proud to have been a part of securing.
“At a university that’s experiencing sustained growth, there are more funding needs than you’ll ever be able to satisfy,” Wicker said. “The trick is to match donor interests with the university’s funding needs.”
Former Kennesaw State President Betty Siegel recruited Wicker from the United Way of Metro Atlanta in 2002 as KSU’s vice president of development, a role that expanded to include at various times during his tenure oversight of university relations, alumni affairs and the KSU Foundation.
“People in the fundraising world tend to move on every three to five years,” he said, “but during my time at Kennesaw State, as the university evolved, the job changed. One of the things I’ve been fortunate to do in my career is not do the same thing twice.”
When Wicker arrived at KSU, annual private fundraising was just hitting the $2 million mark. By the time the university launched the capital campaign in 2007 that number had risen to $6 million.
“Now we’ve just concluded the campaign, where we raised $77 million across campus, so we’ve had a dramatic growth in fundraising that parallels the dramatic growth of the university,” he said.
Wicker attributes part of that success to a “can-do” spirit on campus.
“There is a can-do spirit here that I think is unique on a college campus,” he said. “I think that can-do spirit is contagious and invigorating.”
Wicker said what he’ll miss most is the people at Kennesaw State as he begins the next chapter. What will he miss the least? Committee meetings.
“I’ve had weeks where I was shuffling to eight or nine meetings a day, all week long, and then early morning breakfasts and evening events,” Wicker said. “Some days, I had more committee meetings than hours in the day. But that’s the nature of university administration."
“I’d like to be remembered as somebody who was friendly, someone who cared about students and staff, and someone who treated the staff that I worked with fairly,” he continued. “And I hope my successor and the staff that come after me exemplify customer service because when it gets down to it, we’re here to serve the community.”
After Jan. 1, Wicker will be working with East Cobb fundraising firm Sinclair, Townes & Company.
A search committee for Wicker’s successor has been named. Joseph D. Meeks, dean of KSU’s College of the Arts, has been named interim vice president of advancement. Meeks will begin serving in the post on Nov. 1, and will serve jointly as dean of his college and in the interim role until a permanent vice president is named.
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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of more than 24,100 students from 142 countries.
The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts departments.