WSU Foundation CEO picked

Calvert held similar leadership roles at Purdue, Texas Tech

Lisa Calvert served as the vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Texas Tech University since Feb. 2015.

Photo courtesy Texas Tech

Lisa Calvert served as the vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Texas Tech University since Feb. 2015.

FORREST HOLT, Evergreen news editor

The university chose a new WSU Foundation chief executive officer and vice president for advancement last week.

Lisa Calvert, most recently the Texas Tech University Foundation’s CEO, brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education fundraising and development.

Calvert will oversee fundraising campaigns for the WSU Foundation and Alumni Association in her new position.

She replaces Gil Picciotto, who acted as interim vice president for development and WSU Foundation CEO after John Gardner resigned in May.

WSU President Kirk Schulz earned the support of WSU’s highest governing body last month for a $1.5 to $2 billion fundraising campaign to launch in 2019.

In 2015, the university completed its largest fundraising campaign to date, bringing in about $1 billion.

“That’s a big jump,” said Phil Weiler, vice president for marketing and communications, referring to Schulz’s fundraising aspirations.
Weiler said he was confident Calvert could “move our fundraising efforts to a higher level.”

The WSU Foundation’s total assets are about $160 million less than the Texas Tech Foundation’s $585 million total, according to both foundation’s 2016 financial reports.

Calvert has also handled fundraising campaigns of comparable size to Schulz’s 2019 plan. Between 2010 and 2013, she led a $2 billion initiative as vice president for development at Purdue University.

Trevor Durham, associate vice president for university development, marketing and communications, said Calvert’s track record is proven.
“We think she is the right person to take us where we need to go,” Durham said.

The next three or four years will be big for the university’s development, he said. When Calvert takes over on Oct. 25, she will have to find as much private support as possible and develop a strategy to energize donors around Schulz’s initiative to make WSU a top-25 public research university.

Durham said choosing someone from outside the university could bring fresh perspective, adding that relevant experience was more important than experience with the university.

WSU tapped Illinois-based executive search firm Witt/Keifer Inc. to create a list of candidates for the position.

Weiler said using search firms to help fill senior positions is a regular practice for WSU. Search firms help the university cast a wider net when looking for candidates. Also, he said, there is an identifiable population of people qualified to fill a position like Calvert’s, and search firms make sure WSU attracts candidates with the most relevant experience.

A Witt/Keifer Inc. spokesperson refused to share details on how the firm identifies candidates, saying it is against their policy to do so.
Calvert was not available for comment because she is transitioning to her new job.