Philanthropy is about relationships, new vice president wants to increase alumni involvement

Kevin Haslam with his wife Kathy and three sons (far left) Gehrig, (middle back) Payton and (middle front) Landry. Haslam is expected to be on campus in his new role before June 1.

Editor-in-Chief Harley Duncan

President Kenneth Kitts announced March 11 to faculty and staff that Kevin Haslam has accepted his offer to become the university’s next vice president for university advancement and executive director of the UNA Foundation.

Kitts said Debbie Shaw will continue to lead the advancement division as interim vice president until Haslam arrives on campus.

“Mr. Haslam’s start date is still to-be-determined but will be no later than June 1, 2019,” Kitts said. “I look forward to working with him to identify goals and benchmarks with which we can track our progress in raising the external dollars necessary to support our mission.”

Haslam is currently the assistant vice president of alumni relations and annual giving at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He has been with UTMB since 2014.

“Professionally this is exactly the type of opportunity I am looking for, but my greatest responsibility is still to be a husband and a father,” Haslam said. My heart is to see an entire program grow, be successful and to be an important part of that.”

In Kitts’ announcement, he said Haslam has experience in athletic administration and athletic fundraising. Haslam spent over three years at Arizona State University from 2007 to 2011 as the coordinator for the Sun Angel Foundation Membership and as the assistant athletic director for annual giving.

“We are at a unique juncture in UNA’s history, having just completed our first year of the transition to Division I athletics,” Kitts said. “The excitement around Lion Athletics has never been greater. We must capitalize on this momentum by asking alumni and friends with an interest in athletics to help ensure our success at this level.”

Kitts emphasized that being a Division I university is a mindset as much as it is an athletic classification.

“We want to be the best in all we do – academics, campus life, athletics and in our fundraising efforts as well,” he said.

Haslam’s connection to UNA started before he knew it in 1992 at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. He and Mark Linder, UNA’s current athletic director, worked with each other as graduate assistants.

Linder said Haslam’s experiences and roles in athletic departments and at a medical school like UTMB will benefit the athletic and nursing programs at UNA.

“Kevin has a passion for young people and seeing them succeed,” Linder said. “The work he does matches his gifts and callings and UNA is happy to have him. With the transition to Division I for our athletic program and the university’s new nursing building, he is a great fit and was a candidate that shined among the others.”

In 2008, Haslam came to UNA and spoke to alumni, coaches and players about building a successful program.

“Early in my career, I coached at the smaller college level, so I was well aware of UNA from their national championships, and I was aware of the Harlan Hill Award and where it came from, as well,” he said.

Haslam spent time at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois as the athletic director from 2005 to 2007 shortly after the university’s Division III tennis program received the death penalty from the NCAA, which is a ban from competing in a sport for at least one year – It was only the fifth school to ever receive the penalty.

“I signed my contract on April 25, and they told me there were minor violations that were being investigated,” Haslam said. “I remember it was May 4 and I was back in Arizona. I was reading the newspaper and I saw that the NCAA sanctioned the death penalty against MacMurray College. I immediately called the university and asked, ‘Is this our MacMurray College?’”

Haslam said he learned many valuable lessons through his experience at a school that was going through a difficult time. He said he never felt and still does not feel the need to be the smartest person in the room, so he is comfortable with asking a lot of questions.

He contributes a lot of his success to simply building relationships with people and listening to what they have to say.

“I got the NCAA on speed dial and told them I wanted to build a model compliance program,” Haslam said. “I wrote a grant to develop a model program based on the NCAA’s model. We put in a program for education, monitoring and reporting yearly. All of those actions turned into being in good standing with the NCAA again.”

Haslam said it was important for him to collaborate with the right people, listen to others and take and learn from different perspectives during that experience – And his mindset is still the same today.

“We want to connect with as many people as possible and give them the opportunity to connect with us (UNA),” Haslam said. “I don’t want anybody in Florence, Muscle Shoals or any of our alumni to be able to say ‘Kevin how come you didn’t tell us about this? How come you didn’t give me the opportunity to connect?’”

Haslam said his two primary goals upon arrival on campus are to establish relationships and learn and to give everyone an opportunity to connect and maximize philanthropic opportunities.

“When I look at the offerings that UNA has philanthropically, the total offerings they have is more comprehensive than Arizona State or that we have at UTMB,” Haslam said.

On March 5, UNA’s annual giving day, 264 donors donated $96,127 to the university. The university’s Build the Pride comprehensive campaign, which ended April 21, 2018, raised $36.6 million. The mark set a new school record for the amount of money raised.

Project 208, which is Kitts’ key initiative to his presidency, is a campaign to make UNA more known among lawmakers in Montgomery. He believes the university deserves a fairer share of money the state allocates to similar size schools as UNA in Alabama.

Haslam said he will definitely play a role in supporting Project 208, and he recognizes the university’s dilemma from his previous and current experiences at ASU and UTMB.

For Haslam, he believes philanthropy is simple. It all comes down to building relationships and letting people know the university cares.

“UNA is not unique in the challenges it faces as a state institution,” Haslam said. “I saw the exact same thing at Arizona State. I saw the exact same thing here when I got to the University of Texas Medical Branch. We for years were state assisted schools. We were used to getting all this money and so nobody focused on relationships. They didn’t need to. They were going to get money from the state, then all of a sudden budgets kept getting cut and money kept getting cut. Now all of a sudden, we are going, ‘we need to raise money,’ but we have ignored alumni from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and into the 90s.”

Haslam wants to help people in North Alabama be aware of UNA’s situation and Project 208 so they can reach out to their representatives and influence them.

“Something to always remember about philanthropy is we don’t drive initiatives, we support them,” he said.

“My family and I genuinely feel blessed beyond measure by the opportunity to become a part of the UNA family,” Haslam said. “I mean that quite sincerely. When we looked at UNA when my wife and I got to go visit and I got to meet a whole lot folks in the UNA community, I was absolutely blown away. By far, it exceeded anything I had hoped and dreamed. I just truly feel honored and privileged to be a part of it and can’t wait to get there and start serving with everyone.”