INDIANAPOLIS - Murray Blackwelder and Curt Simic will be awarded the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University’s highest honor, the Henry A. Rosso Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Ethical Fund Raising at a luncheon in Indianapolis on December 8.
The medal recognizes lifelong dedication to emphasizing philanthropy’s ethics and values, acting as a mentor to perpetuate and invigorate philanthropic traditions, and noted leadership in a long, productive career of distinction. It honors Henry A. “Hank” Rosso (1917-1999), a founder of the Center on Philanthropy and founding director of The Fund Raising School at the Center. Mr. Rosso received the first award in 1990 for establishing a means for fund raising professionals to learn about ethical philanthropic fund raising.
Prior to his current position as president of the newly created University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Foundation, Blackwelder was senior vice president for advancement at Purdue University, where he directed completion of a $1.7 billion campaign. Simic, who retired in August 2008 as president of the Indiana University (IU) Foundation, is now its president emeritus and assists the development program. During his 20 years of leadership, IU consistently ranked among the top 20 universities nationally in total voluntary support.
“Murray and Curt are among the nation’s best university fund raisers and are leaders in the fund raising profession,” said Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy. “Their distinguished careers have provided for significant advances in education and research, countless more students with access to college and increased economic development opportunities for cities and states nationwide.”
As head of the UMKC Foundation, Blackwelder promotes greater understanding of and support for the university’s mission, goals and major initiatives. He provides strategic and organizational leadership, overseeing development, alumni and constituent relations, special events and university relations. Before joining Purdue University, Blackwelder was vice president of external affairs at Iowa State University, where he oversaw two separate campaigns that raised more than $600 million. He also has held leadership positions at the Wichita State University Endowment Association, Rockhurst University and Baker University.
“Murray’s distinguished career has been built upon strong, forthright leadership and a persistently positive outlook,” Rooney said. “He is an inspiring example for fund raisers everywhere.”
An active member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP), Blackwelder served as a CASE national trustee and in CASE conference chair positions. He is the former president of the Wichita Chapter of AFP. He and his wife Diane established the Blackwelder Award for Outstanding Greek Leadership Scholarship at Iowa State University. At the time of his departure from Purdue University, Blackwelder’s friends and colleagues helped endow the Blackwelder Leadership Award for the Purdue Foundation Student Board.
“I am deeply honored to receive the Rosso Medal, and doubly honored to receive it in the company of Curt Simic,” said Blackwelder. “This is the highlight of my 35 years in the fundraising profession.”
Blackwelder has been honored with, among other awards, the CASE District VI Distinguished Service Award, the AFP-Indiana Chapter’s Outstanding Fund Raising Executive Award and the Iowa State University Foundation’s Governor's Staff Award. He has received Delta Tau Delta’s two highest awards, the Alumni Achievement Award and the Distinguished Service Chapter Award. Blackwelder earned a master’s degree in public administration from UMKC and a bachelor of science in business administration from Baker University. In 2006, Baker University honored him as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
“Murray’s indefatigable spirit and optimism, his clear vision of the best way to accomplish a goal and his unwavering commitment to success combine to make him one of the most highly respected professionals in this field,” said Timothy L. Seiler, director of public service and The Fund Raising School at the Center. “He has demonstrated exemplary leadership at each university he has served and has inspired in others the desire to improve.”
Curt Simic’s more than 40 years of fund raising experience began as director of the annual fund at the Indiana University Foundation. He served in development, alumni, and external relations positions at Yale University, and the Universities of Tennessee, Alabama and Oregon. At the University of California-Berkeley, he was vice chancellor for development and president of the University of California-Berkeley Foundation, directing what at that time was the largest fund raising campaign ever conducted at a public university. During his tenure, fundraising for IU more than doubled, exceeding $251 million in fiscal year 2008.
“Under Curt’s leadership, Indiana University received several of the largest gifts in its history. His skill in understanding donors’ dreams and assisting in achieving those goals is exceptional,” Rooney said. “The Center also is fortunate to have had the benefit of his counsel during his many years of service on its board.”
An author and a former member of CASE’s national board, Simic was a founding member of the National Committee for Institutionally Related Foundations, now a part of CASE, and a founding member of the Institutionally Related Foundations Planning Committee of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB). He was dean of faculty and a faculty member of the Big Ten Fund Raisers Institute for 20 years.
“Receiving the Rosso Medal, and in the same year as Murray Blackwelder, provides great joy. I sincerely express my deepest appreciation and thanks to the many fine development officers I have worked with at IU and other institutions over the years,” Simic said. “Without them and countless committed volunteers, very little would have been possible.”
Among other honors, Simic has received several CASE awards, including the inaugural Commonfund Institutionally Related Foundation Award for Professional Leadership, the Frank L. Ashmore Award for Service to CASE and the Advancement Profession and the Crystal Apple Teaching Award. Former Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon presented him with the Distinguished Hoosier Award and Governor Mitch Daniels recently awarded him the state’s highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash. Upon his retirement, Simic received Indiana University’s highest honor, the University Medal, from President Michael McRobbie and the Indiana University Trustees. Friends and colleagues established Onward! The Curtis R. Simic Scholarship for Leaders at IU Bloomington in his honor.
“Curt is an outstanding mentor to generations of young fund raising professionals,” Seiler said. “His foresight, his optimistic attitude at all times, and his ability to lead and encourage fellow fund raisers to success have had an important impact on the universities he has served and the fund raising profession. His leadership has inspired fundraising staff, volunteers, and donors to their highest levels of commitment.”
Following the Rosso Awards presentation, Blackwelder and Simic will join a panel discussion with distinguished donors to discuss inspirations for giving, how and why donors maintain their commitment to philanthropy during tough economic times, and how trust affects the partnership between a donor and a fundraiser.
The awards ceremony and panel discussion are part of the Center on Philanthropy’s annual symposium, which will focus on Building Trust in nonprofits and on relationships among the nonprofit, government and business sectors.
Registration for the luncheon and full-day symposium is $250. A 10% discount is available to 5 or more people registering from the same organization. More information and the symposium agenda are available at www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/buildingtrust. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 278-8906, or visit www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/buildingtrust.
Media are invited to cover the Rosso Medal event and the Building Trust symposium; please contact Adriene Davis at 317-278-8972 or Josh Sprunger at 317-278-8932.
About the Center on Philanthropy
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University is a leading academic center dedicated to increasing the understanding of philanthropy and improving its practice worldwide through research, education, training and public affairs programs in philanthropy, fund raising, and management of nonprofit organizations. A part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the Center operates programs on the IUPUI and IU Bloomington campuses. More information is available at www.philanthropy.iupui.edu.