LINCOLN — Nebraska landed a Big Ten recruit to run its fundraising foundation.
The University of Nebraska Foundation board on Friday hired Brian Hastings, a top-ranking fundraising executive at Ohio State University, as its next president and chief executive officer.
Hastings most recently was in charge of Ohio State's $2.5 billion fundraising campaign. He fills the position left vacant after the sudden resignation of Clarence Castner in February.
Castner, who had worked 23 years at the foundation and had served as its CEO since 2008, cited philosophical differences with the board.
Hastings joins the foundation as it enters the final stages of a comprehensive campaign to raise $1.2 billion for NU priorities. The campaign, which began in 2005, recently surpassed its original goal but continues to work to raise money in key areas, including for a cancer research center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Hastings is an experienced fundraiser for cancer research. Ohio State has a facility designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.
“I'm very familiar with cancer research being an academic priority,” he said. “I look forward to working with the faculty, Chancellor (Harold) Maurer and (NU President) J.B. Milliken to make that a reality. It's a big priority and a big opportunity for Omaha and for the state of Nebraska.”
The foundation did not reveal the salary it intends to pay Hastings, who plans to start his new job in September.
Hastings, an Ohio native who spent his career working for Ohio higher education institutions, said part of his attraction to the Nebraska job resulted from his meeting NU Foundation officials after Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference. Ohio State is a member.
John Gottschalk, the retired publisher of The World-Herald and a foundation volunteer, took the helm as interim foundation president and CEO after Castner's departure. His goal, he said, was to get the foundation ready for a new CEO. He said the foundation staff had a successful year despite the distractions of leadership changes, and he predicted an “incredible” finish to the current campaign.
Gottschalk said he met with Hastings and was impressed.
“I had breakfast with him — it wasn't an interview by me, it was an interrogation by him,” Gottschalk said. “He had a lot of questions, and they were good questions, and they were the right questions.”
Milliken called private support essential for the success of public universities.
“As private fundraising increases in importance, so does the need for strong professional leadership,” he said. “Brian Hastings is very well positioned to assume the leadership of the Foundation at this time.”
Hastings said he got his start in “the development profession” as an Ohio State freshman in 1991. A first-generation college student whose father worked construction and whose mother worked as office support, Hastings needed a job. A buddy told him about an opening for students to call alumni and friends of the university and solicit donations.
“I found my career and I found my passion,” he said.
While still in college he worked his way up to supervising a part-time staff of 60 student callers. After he earned his bachelor's degree in classics in 1997 he moved from Ohio State to the University of Dayton, where he accepted a post as assistant director of annual giving.
He worked at Dayton until 2001, when he returned to his alma mater, accepting a position as Ohio State's director of development for the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
He rose to the rank of senior associate vice president and fundraising campaign executive director. Last year he was one of two finalists to head the University of Tennessee Foundation.
“That was the first time in 10 or 11 years that I stuck my toe back in the (job-seeking) water,” he said. “It helped me think about the type of place I want to be.” Hastings and his wife, Sharon, plan to make their home in Lincoln. The couple have two children, a 4-year-old son and an 18-month-old daughter.
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