Success of graduates helping to build pride in URI
'We've put a lot of attention on showcasing on alumni.'
COURTESY URI/NORA LEWIS
ADVANCED THINKING: Bob Beagle, recently retired vice president of university advancement at URI, says that in the absence of exorbitant budgets, the school has had to rely on fundraising efforts.
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
When Bob Beagle, recently retired vice president for university advancement at the University of Rhode Island, came to the school in the early 1990s, the national banking crisis had left the state in fiscal disarray.
Undeterred, he began the university’s first-ever capital campaign, ultimately raising $17 million more than its $50 million goal and, over the years spearheaded fundraising that has brought in more than $150 million for various campaigns despite a series of national economic slumps.
He also essentially established the school’s alumni-relations program, including overhauling its programming, publications and marketing and communications to the current “Think Big. We Do.” URI brand in an effort to boost school pride.
Beagle retired June 30, but won’t be completely absent from campus. He plans to teach within the Harrington School of Communication and Media.
PBN: You went to school for political science but ended up in higher education advancement. How did that happen?
BEAGLE: I was always very interested in politics. … Like a typical college student, I didn’t have a particular game plan and gave a lot of thought to maybe law school but the answer was no. I ended up going to graduate school and had two job offers – either to become a professional in Boy Scouting or to teach and coach college debate at Penn State. Then I became head debate coach at Edinboro University (in Edinboro, Pa.) and then got a job as executive assistant to the president, then moved to university advancement. By going into administration, I could get to do a lot of the things I thought I would do.
PBN: What made you well-suited for this career? Why not finish the Ph.D. and stay in teaching?
BEAGLE: I think I was anxious to be doing rather than teaching. That’s not a put-down on teaching, because I still occasionally teach. I think it was my background in politics, government and communication that had a practical application. My whole career has been on the external-affairs side. I absolutely love campaigns, whether it is political or fundraising, which is an offshoot of my interest in politics.