Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Gail Yates served as Senior Development Officer for the Albers School from 2004 until she retired in January. To recognize Gail's excellent service to Albers and the university, we recently held a dinner in her honor. Those in attendance spoke in glowing terms about Gail's work at SU. In addition to being a consummate professional, Gail was a great teammate, always willing to pitch in and help out where needed, even when the activity did not relate to her role. She never said, "That is not my problem."
During her time here, Gail probably had to deal with me more than she had to work with anyone else on campus. That means she is a survivor - she put up with me all those years! :} One thing that probably helped was our common enthusiasm for athletics, particularly college basketball. Naturally, we were very supportive of Seattle U. returning to Division I athletics, and I don't have to ask her to know that she is VERY excited about the women's basketball team leading the WAC!
An important thing to be able to say when you leave is, "I left the place a much better place than I found it." That is definitely the case for Gail. One example would be our alumni relations and the Albers Alumni Board. Under Gail's watch, the alumni relations of the school have definitely improved and the Alumni Board has strengthened. Alumni events such as the Crab Feed and the Golf Tournament are much stronger today than they were. In recent years, Gail has been working with Rob Bourke to make that happen, but she has definitely had an impact.
One of Gail's most important contributions was her work on the SU Capital Campaign - "For the Difference We Make" - which went from 2003 to 2009. While the campaign was underway when Gail arrived, she definitely was instrumental in the success of the Albers School. Our key projects were to create an endowment for graduate student scholarships, the Tinius Professorship in Accounting, and endowments for our entrepreneurship and business ethics centers. The success of those projects is definitely paying off today, and is part of the legacy that Gail is leaving at SU. The graduate scholarships have proven to be critical in the last few years as our graduate students have faced increasing financial pressure and declining employer support. The Tinius Professorship has been instrumental in attracting and retaining outstanding faculty to our highly ranked accounting program. The endowments for entrepreneurship and business ethics are providing significant levels of support to our widely admired Center for Business Ethics and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.
Of course, Gail's success in garnering resources for the Albers School goes well beyond the capital campaign. Other notable achievements include the PMI China Engagement Initiative, scholarships to fund student study abroad, and corporate support for the Summer Business Institute, not to mention my favorite, the Dean's Fund! :}
Attendees at the dinner remarked on Gail's passion - her passion for fund raising and her passion for the university (you can add women's basketball to that). They also pointed to her generosity with her time, talent, and her own giving. When people experienced an illness or some other setback, Gail was always there to support them. One person remarked that Gail did it without giving it much thought, that it was simply the thing to do, not realizing what a positive impact it had and that it was not the way everyone responded.
Although Gail was in fundraising, which does not usually have much direct contact with students, Gail had a profound impact on a number of students during her time here. She hired them as administrative assistants and trained and mentored them to do their work at the highest level. This ended up being an important part of their education at SU, making Gail a professor with impact!
While Gail has retired, she really hasn't. It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows her that she is continuing to work part-time on special projects for Mary Kay McFadden, VP for University Advancement. This includes leading the search process to find a new development officer for the College of Science and Engineering and helping to orient new University Advancement staff.
Gail Yates is leaving, but she will not be forgotten. She will be remembered for her professionalism, for her willingness to pitch in and support her colleagues in Albers as well as University Advancement, and for her enthusiastic support of the mission of Albers and SU. She will have the satisfaction of knowing she has left an impressive legacy at the Albers School.