VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, March 22, 2019

Advancing Our Cause

Good morning!

Academic medical centers like ours are typically involved in a number of activities intended to engage important constituencies and build support for the organization. 

vc_Mar_22_OIA.jpgThese activities can be diverse and can go by different names at different AMCs, and they can be organized in many different ways, but they are often broadly grouped under the heading of “institutional advancement." 

The functional areas of IA include fundraising (aka development), alumni support, public relations (including internal and external communications and media relations), marketing and, in many cases, community relations. 

At UMMC, the formal names of these activities, known to most of you, are the Offices of Development, Alumni Affairs, Public Affairs (including Media Production and Photography), Marketing and, just within the last year, Web Strategy.

The work being done in these units is vitally important in building understanding and support – financial and otherwise – for the Medical Center.  Indeed, we are fortunate that these separate areas are collectively as strong as they’ve ever been at UMMC.

And that’s a big reason I’ve decided the time is right to bring all these functions under one organizational umbrella as the UMMC Office of Institutional Advancement. 

The IA organizational model is not new.  It’s been in place and performing successfully at a number of other AMCs.  This model brings with it a number of advantages, including:

  • more unified messaging,
  • shared creative and production resources,
  • more clarity and improved access for our internal users of these services and
  • greater cost efficiencies.

Importantly, I want to emphasize that this move to create a single, unified advancement effort will not diminish any of the services included in the reorganization.  Quite the contrary.  For example, the Office of Development’s wonderful work on the Children’s of Mississippi capital campaign – which is ahead of schedule – and many other development initiatives will only be bolstered by this change.  Similarly, the progress we are making in enhancing our Web presence will benefit from having even more resources devoted to this priority. 

We have plans to co-locate these functional areas on the first floor of the Learning Resources Center during the next fiscal year.  This physical move will greatly enhance communication and synergy.

Even though they will be housed together, each of these functional areas will retain its purpose and distinctive role.  However, they will be guided by a single leader who I’ve appointed chief institutional advancement officer, Tom Fortner.  UMMC’s chief public affairs and communication officer for the last decade, Tom’s 35 years of experience at three academic medical centers, his thoughtful leadership style, his big picture organizational focus and his national connections will serve us well.  In fact, when he joined UMMC in 2008, Tom was wrapping up six years of service, including one year as chair, on the national steering committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Institutional Advancement.  This is the professional development group that encompasses IA disciplines at all U.S. and Canadian medical schools and teaching hospitals.

Under Tom’s leadership, the integration of our advancement functions began a few weeks ago and should be completed and operational by mid-April.  He is joined in leadership roles by Natalie Hutto, executive director of development; Marc Rolph, newly appointed executive director of communications; and Katherine Reed, who has been named director of finance and stewardship. 

Leaders of the functional areas include April Overstreet, Alumni Affairs; Rondah Marks, Marketing; and John Matlock, newly appointed as director of communication support services, which encompasses photography, video, graphic design and copywriting. 

I’m excited about this new office and the synergies that will be realized from this approach.  It’s a significant change from our long history of having completely separate offices for these functions.  Yet I’m confident we will be able to leverage the collective talent of the combined staffs to tell our story more effectively to more people than ever before, winning even greater support and loyalty on our journey toward A Healthier Mississippi.


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