Thomas Hiles prepares for his new role as MU vice chancellor for development and alumni relations

Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 4:53 p.m. CDT; updated 6:38 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 29, 2012

COLUMBIA —  Thomas Hiles has been named vice chancellor for development and alumni relations at MU.

He said Thursday he plans to use his 27 years of experience in higher education to build on the momentum of previous fundraising campaigns when his appointment begins in July.


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As vice chancellor, Hiles will lead the university's third major fundraising initiative, which is to be directed toward corporations and foundations.

Hiles replaces David Housh who retired in August. Housh led the For All We Call Mizzou campaign that raised a record-breaking $1 billion. Chancellor Emeritus Richard Wallace will hold the position on an interim basis until Hiles arrives.

Hiles began his career in higher education at DePaul University in Chicago, with stops at Western Kentucky University, the University of Maryland and Rice University before reaching his current post at Ohio's Bowling Green State University

"Tom has a very extensive background directing major campaigns at many different kinds of universities," said Linda L'Hote, associate vice chancellor of development who served on the search committee.

His assignments have included:

  • Vice president for university advancement at Western Kentucky University and director of the WKU Foundation from 1998 to 2010.
  • Development at DePaul University in Chicago.
  • Fundraising at University of Maryland.
  • Director of campaigns at Rice University in Houston.
  • Vice president for institutional advancement/president of the foundation at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

"I've certainly been in campaigns within all of those institutions," he said. "I feel fortunate to have had 27 years in higher education."

Having a broad knowledge of how these programs work on a national level will help MU expand on its current success, Hiles said.

"Donors give big leadership gifts for big ideas," he said.

Before he begins formulating strategies with Chancellor Brady Deaton for MU's next fundraising initiative, Hiles said he is going to get a head start by making a point to meet the staff and the most important donors. He wants to establish himself in the community as soon as possible.

"I like to cut to the chase," he said. "I have a lot of work to dig in ... . I want to make sure we are covering all of our bases."

His fundraising/alumni program is supported by a staff of 165 and a budget of $14.5 million.

L'Hote said Hiles was chosen from a list of five "excellent applicants." The search committee that helped Deaton make a final decision was assembled by School of Journalism Dean Dean Mills.

After two days of interviews with the committee and private interviews with Deaton, Hiles was brought back with one other candidate. The committee's vote was unanimous for Hiles, L'Hote said.

She said he brings an impressive background to the table.

"Corporate and foundation fundraising is extremely important for this coming campaign, and he has excellent background in those areas," L'Hote said. "Everyone (in the program) thinks he is going to bring great ideas to the operation."

Hiles' wife, Sara Shipley Hiles, graduated from MU School of Journalism and his late father graduated from the MU School of Business on the G.I. Bill in 1949.

He received his undergraduate degree from Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, and he completed a master’s degree in education administration at DePaul University in Chicago.

Before Hiles entered higher education he taught high school in Kansas City.

"He called this a destination job at a destination university," L'Hote said.

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