Day one of lifelong engagement at Nottingham

Who got that job? Doug Thomson discusses fundraising and getting Nottingham alumni involved long term. Plus the latest higher education jobs and appointments

February 13, 2014

For Doug Thomson, the new director of campaign and alumni relations at the University of Nottingham, being offered the position gave him more than simply professional satisfaction.

“I was immensely proud and excited – first for emotive reasons in that it’s my university, I was an undergraduate here,” said Mr Thomson, who studied history at Nottingham. “I’ve known the university for a number of years and have been involved [with it] in a number of ways. So I was delighted as an alumnus.”

For several years already, he has worked with Nottingham’s senior management and the campaign and alumni relations team on an advisory basis.

In his view, fundraising is only a means to an end. His wider objective is to “change the way the university engages with its alumni and other friends”. Nottingham, he believes, has made “quite a lot of progress down that road” but still has much to do.

He would like to see alumni develop a long-term engagement with the institution so that “day one of enrolment at Nottingham is in fact day one of a life of involvement with the university – first as a student, then as a graduate”.

In the short term, he is intent on reaching the £150 million target of Nottingham’s Impact fundraising campaign. The university is already two-thirds of the way to that goal, he said, but it cannot rest on its laurels.

Nottingham’s “appetite” for developing fundraising and alumni relations played a large part in attracting Mr Thomson to the position.

He was also impressed by the leadership’s “commitment” to the cause, he said. “That buy-in…was definitely a big factor – we have a vice-chancellor [David Greenaway] who cycles around the country every summer holiday raising money for university projects. I can’t think of any other v-c who does that.”

He acknowledged that his field was a growing area in the sector, but it would be wrong, he said, “to paint it as expanding out of need as other funding sources decline”.

“Engagement [with alumni] is important financially and enables us to do things that we simply couldn’t do [otherwise], but it is also enriching the life of the university in many other ways,” he said.

“This is the key thing that Nottingham has embraced. It’s not just paying lip service to engagement with alumni and other friends. It’s something the university welcomes and enjoys.

“It makes for a better experience for our students, staff and alumni if there is that openness and that willingness to engage.

“Nottingham was built on external engagement and interest: Jesse Boot founded the university with external engagement in mind. It’s been part of its ethos, and this is simply another manifestation of that spirit.”

Directorial roles: senior administrative posts on offer

University of Warwick
The University of Warwick is seeking a new director of estates to deliver a “dynamic and advanced” estates strategy.
Closing date for applications: 3 March 2014
View the full job description and apply for this role

Anglia Ruskin University
Anglia Ruskin University is looking for a director of research to help “drive forward our research funding and development endeavours”.
Closing date for applications: 2 March 2014
View the full job description and apply for this role

University of Ulster
The University of Ulster has an opportunity for a director to lead the Centre for SME Development in its Ulster Business School.
Closing date for applications: 21 February 2014
View the full job description and apply for this role


Aberystwyth University has announced two senior appointments. Alwena Hughes Moakes has been made director of communications, marketing and public affairs, while Louise Jagger has been named director of development and alumni relations. Ms Hughes Moakes is currently Aberystwyth’s policy and executive officer. Ms Jagger, who has 25 years’ experience in fundraising, recently completed a master’s in international politics from the university.

Alan Lewis, a leading businessman and entrepreneur, has joined the University of Huddersfield as visiting professor of entrepreneurship. Mr Lewis, who owns the Hartley Investment Trust and Group, has previously donated funds to provide bursaries to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Anand Menon, professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London, has been appointed research coordinator for a new Economic and Social Research Council project on “The UK in a Changing Europe”.

Simon Stobart, dean of the School of Computing at Teesside University, has become the institution’s first academic to receive a principal fellowship from the Higher Education Academy.

The University of Kent has appointed Philippe De Wilde its new pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise. Professor De Wilde, currently head of the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, will take up his position on 1 July.

Paul Boyle, chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, has been named the next vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester. He will take over on 1 October.

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