While Catherine “Cassie” McVeety looks forward eagerly to her newly-appointed job as vice president for university relations at Portland State, she first needs to wrap up her host of responsibilities at Washington State University, Vancouver, Wash.
McVeety, who will assume the post April 5, counts many family connections with the university, including her mom, a PSU student. She fills the vacancy created when Gary Withers left last summer to lead the development of The Children’s Institute. McVeety’s post will be identical to Withers’, reporting to President Daniel Bernstine in oversight of development, marketing and communications, college publications (not student publications) and alumni relations.
Development, another name for fund raising, will occupy a lot of her energy as she leads the climactic phase of PSU’s first-ever capital fund-raising campaign.
McVeety was one of four finalists for the vacated position. For more than 11 years she has served as director of campus advancement for WSU’s Vancouver campus.
In explaining the April 5 start date, McVeety reviewed the situation at Vancouver.
“It’s not the kind of position you give two weeks notice and leave. You’re involved in lots of issues. The chancellor of my campus would like to have a little bit of my time before I go.”
Washington State’s legislature started a 60-day session last Monday and McVeety is involved in activity with that. She explained that Bernstine and the Vancouver chancellor Hal Dengerink are friends, and that Bernstine was agreeable to have McVeety tie up loose ends before beginning at Portland State.
She also will be taking a side trip to France for a meeting of the trustees of CHASE, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. She is a trustee on the international board.
When comparing Oregon to Washington, McVeety said, “We share a common problem, that neither state has adequate funding for higher education.”
McVeety commented on the PSU capital fundraising campaign, which has not been widely publicized but has been under way for some time.
“Every college and university in the world now has a campaign, it is a really concentrated time period of elevating your fundraising and concentrating your fundraising goals on the future of the university,” she said. “It gives your volunteers and the community internally an opportunity to focus on a concentrated effort to boost the financial backing of the institution.”
The goal is to get people especially excited about fundraising for a specific period of time, normally five to 10 years.
Capital campaigns originally focused on building campaigns, but that is no longer the case for PSU and other colleges.
“We’re raising money for student scholarships. For renovating existing buildings. For professorships and scholarships,” McVeety said.
She explained that PSU has been in the “silent” phase of this campaign for several years. Withers and the interim vice president, Donna Schaeffer, have planned and generated this phase following goals set by Bernstine.
“The campaign is seen as a concentrated effort to raise visibility for where the university wants to go and to attract donors of all kinds,” she said.
She sees both public and private universities today facing a shifting challenge.
“We can’t rely on state funding alone to have the kind of university we need to have for students, faculty and the community. We have to have private support to augment the excellence that is here.”
She added, “I think it’s just a reality of higher education that fund raising is an important facet of how we fund any institution.”
She noted that nationwide more and more of the cost of higher education is shifting to the students through tuition increases.
“That’s the kind of thing that private money can really help with,” McVeety said. It can provide scholarships, ensure great professors and give faculty the tools for teaching and research, she continued.
McVeety believes it really important to stay in touch with students. Knowing where the students are, the pulse of the student body, can then be transferred to the public.
She sees Portland State as “very relevant to this community.” She considers private money as “a great way for the community to be invested literally and figuratively in the future for PSU.”
She likes the community partnership outlook of Portland State, saying it is has not been an institution high in an ivory tower, but an institution that’s relevant, not just involved in the community but an important part of the community.
McVeety maintains something of a philosophy of fund raising, which she has employed at Vancouver.
“I think it is critical that fund raising doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s part of an overall effort. PSU does that. Marketing and communications, alumni relations and fund raising all work hand in hand.”
She calls this the Advancement Model. Three elements work together, alumni, communications and fund raising.
McVeety lives with her husband in the Alameda district of Portland. She frequently attends Viking sports events and recently watched Viking basketball teams win two games.
“I think the president has a very exciting vision for this place and where we’re going,” McVeety summarized. “I think he is an incredible leader for Portland State. Having an opportunity to work with him and to help make his vision happen for this institution will be a real privilege.
“I can’t wait to get started.”