Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Retirement not the end of helping UA for veteran administrator

Pam Parker first graduated from The University of Alabama in 1980, but she never really left. She began working for the National Alumni Association in 1986 and, over the past 25 years, has risen to become one of the University’s highest-ranking administrators. Serving as the Vice President for Advancement since 2006, Parker has been responsible for leading the University’s development efforts and serving as its chief fundraiser.

Now, she is making plans for continued involvement at the Capstone after she officially retires this week.

“A long time ago I said, ‘I’m going to work 25 years and that’s it,’” Parker said. “So I started to think about this a couple of years ago and probably would have worked a little bit longer, but Dr. Witt decided he was going to stay a lot longer than I was so I said this is time.”

Parker made it clear that she still intends to help the University.

“It’s not like I got run over by a truck,” she said. “I want to help the University as a volunteer anyway I can. I love what I do.”

The Office of University Advancement that Parker oversees includes the divisions of Advancement Services, Alumni Affairs, Capstone Men and Women, Development and University Relations.

“This job requires your heart and soul,” she said. “It’s long days and weekends. I want to be able to do other things.”

Some of those things include specific fundraising projects that appeal to her.

“I’m going to take on some fundraising projects that interest me,” she said. “You know, a lot of people don’t like to ask for money.

“I’m not scared of it. I’ve made a lot of friends doing it. I’ve never had anybody get mad at me, either.”

Parker was responsible for leading the University’s capital campaign, which raised $612 million, including 150 gifts of $1 million or more. She also leads a fundraising apparatus that brings in over $100 million in annual contributions to the University.

“Usually when you call somebody and you say, ‘I’m the vice president of development, I’d like to come visit with you’ they know exactly why you’re coming,” Parker said. “When you look at the support of our alums for this institution, its pretty incredible and overwhelming. And I think it’s because we have the leadership that they respect at all levels.”

Parker said more than half of the money from the capital campaign went directly into student scholarships.

“I think we’ve made a difference in the ability to recruit and retain students based on scholarships,” she said. “Our priority has continued to be scholarships and under Dr. Witt’s leadership I think you would find that to be true forever. Students are the priority.”

Additionally, Parker said her office has helped with fundraising for new greek houses being built on campus.

“That is part of what we do,” she said. “We work with the consultants to help them raise money for the greek system.”

But despite all of her success in fundraising, Parker said the main focus of her office is relationships.

“We have a philosophy here that it’s not about the money, it’s about the relationship,” she said. “So we really try to get to know our donors, to know what their passionate about, what they want to achieve with their philanthropy.”

Parker said another thing she might do in retirement is become a student again. “I go back to school every ten years,” she said. “I might just (go back) to take some fun classes.”

She received the latest of three UA degrees in 2004, when she earned her Ph.D in higher education while already a senior administrator in the advancement office.

Parker will also continue advising student organizations. Currently, she serves as an advisor to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, the Kappa Delta sorority and the Other Club.

Other Club President Dorothy Griffith said she has known Parker since her freshman year, and her passion for students has always stood out.

“She has a definite passion for students and that’s one of the things that I’ve really come to appreciate about her,” Griffith said. “She cares about students individually, and it makes them feel appreciated and understood. “

Parker plans to spend time helping rebuild Tuscaloosa.

“I am very committed to what’s going on in this community after what happened last spring,” she said. “I live in a neighborhood that was struck, I think we have such fabulous opportunities for rebuilding this town and this will give me the opportunity to do some of those other things.”

As she begins her retirement, Parker said she will miss some parts of her job.

“It’s been fabulous to work with people that have such great vision as Bob Witt. He’s a great leader,” she said. “I think I have just been real fortunate to have found a career that I love so much. Raising money for an institution that you care about is very easy.”



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