Lifetime Achievement: Tom Landrum

The Georgia Education Advancement Council was privileged to present Tom S. Landrum with its 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his four decades of continuous service to the state’s flagship university.

Landrum, who will retire in 2014 as vice president for development and alumni relations at the University of Georgia, has distinguished himself in a number of roles at his beloved alma mater, holding titles as varied as information specialist, public relations director and presidential chief of staff.

The 1972 UGA alumnus and former Pandora yearbook editor has served five university presidents during his tenure and contributed to decisions that have helped UGA grow in stature to become one of America’s top 20 public institutions. Fundraising has increased as well, from $3 million per year in the early 1970s to a current streak of six consecutive years with $100 million in private gifts and pledges. He has played an integral role in three successful capital campaigns and is now directing the early stages of a fourth. Media exposure has also grown by leaps and bounds since those early days when one non-athletic story per year in the New York Times was considered a victory.

Throughout his career, Landrum has been an advocate for the role of public relations, media relations and marketing in the life of the university. He is also credited with building the units of public affairs, development, alumni relations, government relations, special events, donor relations and stewardship, and career counseling into a cohesive, collegial institutional advancement team.

His many contributions to UGA and the community at large make Landrum the ideal recipient for GEAC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the consummate advancement professional, serving his institution and higher education in tandem, leaving both better than he found them.

By Rick Woodall, Past President, Georgia Education Advancement Council

Outstanding Newcomer: David Cantrell

The 2013 recipient of GEAC’s Outstanding Newcomer Award is the type of newcomer to educational fundraising that every senior development professional hopes to have an opportunity to guide and direct. David Cantrell has an inherent drive and initiative to learn the science, as well as the art, of his profession. He possesses a genuine interest and concern for his institution’s prospects and donors; and he embraces the institution’s mission and vision.

In 18 months as a major gifts officer for Georgia Regents University, Cantrell has developed outstanding relationships with faculty, staff, peers, prospects and donors. He has traveled extensively throughout the Southeast and up and down the East Coast, cementing relationships with key prospects and donors. As a result, many gifts have been closed, including donations from individuals of $50,000, $60,000 and, most recently, a $400,000 estate gift. Currently, Cantrell is working on a $2 million estate gift to support research.

Cantrell quickly earned the respect of his colleagues through his hard work, amiable nature and focus on results. In doing so, he has provided example for all to follow.

By Jennifer Hafer, GEAC Awards Committee
Public Relations Specialist, Kennesaw State University

Alumni Relations: Marilyn Somers

The 2013 recipient of GEAC’s Award of Excellence in Alumni Relations, Marilyn Somers, has garnered accolades from CASE and the Georgia Tech Alumni Association for her work in developing and expanding Tech’s Living History program. She has personally interviewed 932 individuals recording the history of Georgia Tech, produced 149 special videos for Tech, made more than 325 personal presentations to groups, and produced 10 standing exhibits depicting GT's history. She has been tirelessly dedicated to this program.

Beyond her professional commitment to advancing education, she has chaired or co-chaired five national conferences and served on the inauguration committee for two Board of Regents’ chancellors.

By Frank Pritchett, GEAC Awards Chair
Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, University of West Georgia

Communications and Marketing: John Cornell

John Cornell, marketing and public relations director for the College of Coastal Georgia, is the 2013 winner of the GEAC Award of Excellence in Communications and Marketing.

Cornell has more than five years of experience in the Office of Advancement and more than 13 years in higher education. He is responsible for overall positioning of the college in the community as well as in student recruitment. His implemented strategies have been critical as the college successfully morphed from a community college to a comprehensive baccalaureate institution and residential campus in less than five years.

Cornell’s accomplishments include designing a biannual college magazine; creating and implementing an integrated multimedia marketing and communications plan which includes student recruitment strategies for traditional and non-traditional students; and coordinating all media outreach, including social media sites. This GEAC member serves on multiple campus committees and task forces, teaches an introductory college-success course for freshmen and is an adviser to the student newspaper.

By Chris Kozelle, GEAC Awards Committee
Director of News and Editorial Services, Berry College

Educational Fundraising: Su Ann Bird

Su Ann Bird serves her institution, South Georgia Technical College, as vice president of institutional advancement and as executive director of the South Georgia Technical College Foundation.

During her tenure, she has worked to increase the foundation’s assets from $3.7 million to $6.5 million. In the past eight years, she has helped the foundation to raise approximately $7 million. Endowed scholarships have also increased, from six to 38.

In addition to overseeing fundraising activities, Su Ann serves as the primary grant writer for her institution. Through her efforts, South Georgia Technical College has received two federal grants valued at more than $2.3 million.

Above and beyond the monetary gifts and grants she has helped to secure, Su Ann was also instrumental in securing the donations of a Lear 24G jet, a Gulfstream GII jet and an Aaron’s Rents Michael Waltrip race car to be used in the college’s academic programs.

Off campus, she serves her profession as a board member and officer for the Georgia Education Advancement Council.

For her hard work and dedication to advancing the mission of South Georgia Technical College, Su Ann is well deserving of the 2013 GEAC Award of Excellence in Educational Fundraising.

By Kit Trensch, GEAC Awards Committee
Director of Development, Southern Polytechnic State University