FORT SMITH – An experienced fundraiser with local ties will lead the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s development efforts as the vice chancellor for university advancement and executive director of the UAFS Foundation.
Blake Rickman, who is currently the senior director of development and external relations at the Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Arkansas, will assume the vice chancellor role at UAFS, effective Jan. 1.
In his new role, Rickman will be responsible for leading a centralized advancement team in vision, strategy and implementation to support the university’s mission and goals. He will lead campaign planning for the university, work with alumni relations staff on engagement and event opportunities, and engage faculty and staff in an effort to broaden the culture of philanthropy, among other duties.
As senior development director at the Fulbright College, Rickman is responsible for the planning and implementation of the college’s development and external relations program and oversees management of college and regional committees and major, planned, corporate and foundation gifts over $10,000. Additionally, he serves as development liaison to the 19 science, arts, and humanities departments in the college, as well as more than 40 research centers, institutes, and academic programs.
His accomplishments in that role include helping establish the School of Art in the Fulbright College, funded by an $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Foundation in 2017, the largest gift ever given to a U.S. university in support of or to establish a school of art. Since 2014, the Fulbright College development team has brought in gifts totaling more than $192 million.
Rickman has led the college’s development efforts since 2016, capping more than a decade of advancement-related service to the U of A. In 2018, he was named to Arkansas Business’s 40 Under 40, recognizing outstanding professionals in the state under 40 years of age.
A native of Fort Smith, Rickman earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Arkansas Tech University and a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas.
He said he was “excited for the opportunity to join such an outstanding institution and work with this dynamic advancement team.”
“Under the leadership of Dr. Serna, I am confident that this university will continue to serve as a key contributor to workforce development and an economic engine to the River Valley,” Rickman said. “My goal is to advance this trend and work to leverage philanthropic resources to expand campus opportunities via student, faculty, capital and programmatic support.”
“The UAFS Foundation Board is an amazing group of people and an invaluable resource,” he continued. “I believe their strategic work with the advancement staff will allow us to engage more alumni and friends of UAFS than ever before. This is a homecoming for me and my family, and the opportunity to serve the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is truly an honor.”
Dr. Edward Serna, interim chancellor at UAFS, said Rickman would be a valuable addition to senior administration.
“From the outset, we were impressed with Blake’s accomplishments at the University of Arkansas and his ability to lead a comprehensive advancement team,” Serna said. “Having grown up in Fort Smith, Blake already has connections to our area, which was another important quality we wanted in our next advancement leader. He will be a valuable addition to our leadership team at UAFS, and we are excited to have him hit the ground running in 2019.”
Rickman will replace Dr. Mary Lackie, who resigned from the role earlier this year to accept a position as executive director of development at the University of Central Arkansas.