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Bob McQuinn to step down as vice president for alumni relations and development

Led Northwestern’s “We Will” Campaign, one of the most successful fundraising efforts in higher education history
bob mcquinn
Having joined Northwestern in 2010, Bob McQuinn led the design and successful implementation of We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, one of the largest fundraising campaigns in U.S. higher education.

Bob McQuinn, Northwestern University’s vice president for alumni relations and development (ARD), will retire after serving in the role for 13 years. Effective Oct. 31, he will transition to a half-time role as vice president emeritus and senior adviser for Northwestern. Working from California, he will remain active in fundraising and development activities on the West Coast and in Asia.

“I am forever grateful to Bob and his talented team, whose efforts to engage alumni and nurture a culture of giving will benefit our students, faculty and research for decades to come,” President Michael Schill said. “Bob’s work with alumni and donors has helped to position Northwestern as one of the nation’s leading institutions of higher education and expanded our global impact.”

Senior Associate Vice President and Campaign Manager David Lively will serve as interim vice president, Schill said, and Northwestern has retained Isaacson, Miller to assist the search for the permanent role.

Having joined Northwestern in 2010, McQuinn has managed Northwestern’s 375 Alumni Relations and Development staff members who engage alumni and raise funds to support the University’s strategic priorities. He led the design and successful implementation of We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, one of the largest fundraising campaigns in U.S. higher education.

Publicly launched in March 2014, the “We Will” Campaign sought support for the University’s “Northwestern Will” strategic plan, with the goals of raising $3.75 billion from at least 141,000 donors. After achieving the goals two years ahead of schedule, the University raised the goals to $5 billion and 170,000 donors in September 2018.

The Campaign concluded in June 2021, with a total of $6.1 billion raised from 174,380 donors. Northwestern also raised over $1 billion in new gifts and commitments in its first post-Campaign year. 

The donor participation goal was a distinguishing factor for the “We Will” Campaign, designed to expand the University’s base of support. Alumni, parents and friends from around the world made 626,796 gifts during the Campaign, supporting areas across Northwestern. Of these gifts, 526,179 (83.9%) were contributions of $1,000 or less; 361,343 (57.6%) were contributions of $100 or less.

“I can never adequately thank everyone in the Northwestern community who helped to elevate and transform the University through their enthusiastic and generous participation in the ‘We Will’ Campaign and beyond,” McQuinn said. “My heart goes out to all of our alumni, parents and friends — and to our incredible staff, who are truly the best in the business.”

As vice president, McQuinn advanced the University’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals through the creation of the ARD Diversity Council in 2019 as well as affinity groups for LGBTQ+, BIPOC, Black, Latinx and Jewish staff and allies. He also prioritized fundraising for numerous DEI-related programs.

As a member of the president’s senior staff, McQuinn worked closely with President Michael H. Schill and President Emeritus Morton Schapiro to raise funds for initiatives of strategic importance to the University.

“It has been my honor to work for both Morty and Mike, and I look forward to continuing to serve Northwestern in a new capacity under Mike’s leadership,” McQuinn added.

Impact of “We Will”

Gifts raised as part of the “We Will” Campaign continue to provide vast opportunities for Northwestern students and advancing programs across the University, including:

  • A total of 534 endowed scholarships and fellowships were created that will support generations of students.
  • International student scholarships expanded during the Campaign. Nineteen new endowed scholarships for international undergraduate students were created as part of the Buffett Matching Challenge for International Student Scholarships.
  • Campaign gifts also supported student research grants and student experience funds.
  • Throughout the Campaign, donors supported initiatives that advanced and expanded Northwestern’s research enterprise. Seventeen University research institutes and centers — and many additional programs and centers throughout Northwestern’s schools and units — were established in the “We Will” Campaign.
  • Nearly half of the funds raised in the Campaign, more than $2.8 billion, have been designated to Northwestern Medicine and have helped drive high-impact clinical innovation, accelerate cutting-edge scientific discovery and educate the next generation of medical leaders.
  • A total of 90 endowed professorships were created during the Campaign to attract and retain top faculty.
  • Campaign funds also supported the construction of 25 new facilities on the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

Engaging Northwestern alumni

During McQuinn’s tenure, annual new gifts and commitments have more than tripled.

Over the last decade, the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) has broadened its engagement of alumni and volunteers by developing new programs, events and initiatives to meet the changing needs and intellectual, social and professional interests of Northwestern’s global community of more than 260,000 alumni.

Those efforts included expanded offerings related to career development; intellectual programming; virtual offerings; diversity, equity and inclusion; mentorship; and volunteer opportunities. There has been a focus on increasing engagement of alumni who live outside the U.S. as the number of international NAA clubs has nearly doubled.

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