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October 10, 2002

IA’s Carter resigns as Pitt's chief fund raiser

Carol Carter resigned as the University’s chief fund raiser on Tuesday.

Pitt gave no reason for her resignation, which was effective immediately. It came four months after the University announced that it had exceeded its $500 million “Discover a World of Possibilities” campaign goal and that it planned to raise another half-billion dollars by June 2007.

Carter could not be reached for comment. The Oct. 8 University news release announcing her resignation as vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement (IA) quoted her as saying: “I’ve achieved what I came to Pitt to do. We met the initial goal of the University’s capital campaign — $500 million — 13 months ahead of schedule, and there is a strong team of fund-raising professionals to assure that Pitt reaches its new $1 billion goal.”

More than two-thirds of the approximately 150 current IA staff were hired during Carter’s tenure, according to her interim replacement, Albert J. Novak Jr., who served under Carter as senior associate vice chancellor.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, in the release announcing Carter’s resignation, praised her accomplishments. “When Carol Carter came to the University five years ago, she took over a fledgling fund-raising operation and transformed it into a national leader, well-positioned to achieve our $500 million goal, the most ambitious in the history of our region,” Nordenberg said.

“Because of her work here, Pitt will never be out of the major leagues in fund raising again.”

Interim Vice Chancellor Novak said he didn’t know why Carter, whom he described as a mentor to him, left Pitt.

He said Institutional Advancement (IA) staff were told of Carter’s resignation at a pair of meetings on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Staff were “surprised and shocked,” he said.

“I think we’re okay,” Novak said of morale among IA staff. “I didn’t know how it would go. Carol was beloved, there’s no doubt about it. But I’m pretty much a known quantity. I think it would have been harder on them had an outsider been named” as interim vice chancellor. “Because then it would have been: ‘Gee, what’s really going on here?’ But we’re trying to make this a seamless and smooth transition.”

Novak said he has been trying to attend as many IA staff meetings as possible since the announcement “so people can ask me questions and build trust for me in this new position.” Novak said he doesn’t think that Carter’s resignation will hurt Pitt fund raising.

“In this business, it’s real important that you remember it’s not your money, it’s the donors’ money, and it’s going to support the educational, research and service missions of this University. This [fund-raising] group has always understood that. I said to our staff: ‘Remember, we represent Carol’s legacy. It’s incumbent on us to go out and work hard and carry on.’”

The timing of Carter’s departure “gives us the chance to do some introspection, to see how we’re doing things,” Novak said. “If we need to make adjustments, we will. It also gives the University time to do a serious, national search” for Carter’s permanent successor. “Whether it’s me or somebody else, you get the new person in position and then you run with it. I would much rather have that happen now than two years before the scheduled end of the campaign” in 2007.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum. There’s still a lot of excitement about the announcement [of Pitt’s $1 billion campaign goal], so that will carry us for a while. We make this change in leadership and then we start firing on all cylinders and go through to the end.”

As for Carter’s professional future, Novak said: “My guess is that since this hit the press, she’s gotten phone calls from a dozen or so head-hunters at other institutions. She is a proven professional fund raiser. In our business, it would not be that unusual for Carol to take some time off — it could be six months or a year — because in the interim, she’ll be able to consult pretty much whenever she wants. Her phone will ring off the hook, asking for her advice.”

Will Carter do any consulting for Pitt?

“Actually, I suspect that she will,” Novak replied.

When Carter was hired as IA vice chancellor in January 1997, it was her second go-around at Pitt. She had been director of development for Pitt’s law school from 1986 to 1989, when Nordenberg was dean. On both occasions, Carter came to Pitt from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was director of annual giving and director of major individual giving (1982-1987) and associate vice president for development (1989-1997).

Like Carter, Novak came to Pitt from Carnegie Mellon University, where he was director of development for the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management from 1991 to 1994, director of foundation relations from 1992 to 1994, and director of corporate and foundation relations from 1994 to 1997.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 35 Issue 4

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