Despite tumultuous changes in higher education, Wakefield’s Robert M. Beagle, vice president for University Advancement at the University of Rhode Island, has been successful in fund-raising, alumni relations and marketing for 30 years.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education recognized Beagle for these accomplishments by presenting him its Quarter Century Circle Award during ceremonies in Boston.
“The field of advancement is all about the people,” said Beagle, who has been at URI since 1991. “Success in this field is always related to the people with whom you surround yourself, whether they be staff or volunteers. I’ve been lucky to have hired many good people and have worked hard to retain those people.”
He established successful advancement programs as vice president at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania and vice chancellor for the Minnesota State University System. No matter where he’s been he has stayed true to this mantra: “If you don’t enjoy people, then this is probably not a good field for you.”
In his role at URI, he oversees the departments of Advancement Services, Alumni Relations, Communications and Marketing, Publications and Creative Services and Public Programming and Events. He is also serving as the transition officer for David M. Dooley, who is in his first year as URI’s president.
At URI, he has directed building and endowment campaigns. The most notable have been the Commitment to Quality, the University’s first comprehensive campaign, which raised $67 million by 1997, $17 million more than the initial goal; the campaigns for The Thomas M. Ryan Center and Ballentine Hall, as well as the first several years of the current $100 million Making a Difference Campaign.
Heavily involved in improving marketing efforts during each of his three vice presidencies, he is now overseeing URI’s five-year, “Think Big. We Do.” branding initiative.
He also focuses on alumni communications and programming, believing that connected alumni are at the heart of everything being done in institutional advancement.
“In this field, you have to be able to motivate people, and make your agenda clear,” Beagle said. “But you can’t micro-manage. You have to let good people do their work. You have to be able to adapt to changes at your school, among your staff and among your volunteers.”
Beagle has been a contributor to numerous CASE books and articles. He has spoken at CASE district and national conferences, served as a CASE faculty member and chaired a national conference on the relationships between athletic fund-raising and overall advancement.
He is also an adjunct faculty member in URI’s Communication Studies Department, where he teaches organizational communication.
He counts his CASE Award and being named Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Distinguished Teaching Chair in 1976 among his most meaningful awards.
For Beagle, however, the bottom line in advancement is simple and it’s not about money or recognition.
“We get to work with good people who do good things for others,” Beagle said. “We get to do things that really make a difference.”
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas.
BIG NIGHT: Robert M. Beagle, URI’s vice president for Advancement, pauses for a photo with Lisa Lewis, CASE District Board member and Alumni Association executive director of the University of Connecticut, during award ceremonies in Boston, during which Beagle was presented the CASE Quarter Century Circle Award. Photo courtesy of CASE.