August 28, 2008 Dear Friends: Before I begin this brief report on the activities of the Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research, I have to make a confession: a few weeks ago I was scolded by one of our long standing Advisory Board members. It happened right after a presentation by members of the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research team on four of our most recent students. To say the audience was “wowed” by the quality of the research done by our doctoral students and affiliated faculty is an understatement. In fact, they were so engaged with the work that their comments bubbled over long past the allotted meeting time. One faculty/student team described an evaluation of our Nonprofit Leadership and Management masters program (our seventh in as many years), which looked at whether and how the program affected the professional practices and careers of our alumni. I joked that the research team had me hogtied during the process (which actually wasn’t far from the truth). Their key findings included: • • •
75 percent of our master’s program alumni reporting they used something they learned in the program everyday; 89 percent reporting a career change since attending the program with 58 percent receiving an increase in income; and An astounding 95 percent overall satisfaction rate with the program. (You can read the full report at www.sandiego.edu/nonprofit).
So, with results like these why was I taken to the woodshed? For the simple reason that I had not taken a step back to bask in what we had accomplished. It wasn’t just that we designed a darn good program in 2001 – we have been working at it continually to make sure it meets the evolving needs of our professional students and the nonprofits they serve. I am pretty sure I am not the only one who is guilty of focusing my gaze on the horizon at the expense of a pat on the back. As part of my mea culpa, I want to take a few minutes of your time today to share highlights of what we have achieved at the Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research since January 2008. We:
Graduated our first student to receive a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies with a Specialization in Nonprofit/Philanthropic Studies and Management, Audrey Barrett. Audrey completed her dissertation,” The Nonprofit Ethics Survey: A Contextual Approach,” which received USD’s highest honor, the William P. Foster Outstanding Dissertation Award. Equally important, Audrey’s work produced the first-in-its kind ethics survey instrument available to nonprofit organizations for assessing their relative ethical health as rated by boards and other volunteers, executive staff and line staff. The tool will be available soon on our website at www.sandiego.edu/npresearch at no charge.
Completed one of the most comprehensive giving studies in San Diego on behalf of San Diego Grantmakers. The results of this study, which looked at both foundation and corporate giving in this region, will be presented on September 16th with findings that will surely fascinate you. If you can’t make it to the event, please visit our website for a copy of the report.
Completed a much celebrated study for The San Diego Foundation entitled “The Appreciated Sector: Public Confidence in San Diego Nonprofit Organizations” which describes survey results of more than 1,000 adults who were asked about their knowledge of and appreciation of the sector. Among the surprises, 86 percent of those surveyed expressed either a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in San Diego’s nonprofits to provide quality goods and services. Nonprofits here were also rated more highly than in national surveys of the sector. If you haven’t seen the report yet, please take the time to look at it on our website.
Completed a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the math and science curriculum at a local charter school. That evaluation involved classroom observation, numerous interviews with board members, administrators, faculty, current students and alumni, a thorough assessment of learning outcomes, and an assessment of the funds expended to support the effort.
Completed research on a year-long feasibility study for the creation of a Cristo Rey Network High School in San Diego. The network provides an innovative model for delivering college preparatory education and work-study experience to at-risk youth – all of whom are eligible for the federal school lunch program. That study involved surveying and interviewing more than 1,000 prototypical parents and students, meetings with local religious, school, community and business leaders to assess their interest in the school concept, site research, curriculum research, and a financial feasibility analysis among many other facets. As a result we are optimistic about the chances of establishing a Cristo Rey school locally.
Received more than $416,000 in commitments for endowed graduate student scholarship funds and in doing, so secured a match of $200,000 awarded to us by the Thomas C. Ackerman Foundation. We are particularly proud of the fact that 88 percent of the funding pledged came from someone affiliated with our program as a student, alumni, faculty member or advisory board member. Once the
funding is fully in place, we will have nearly a $1 million endowment to support our nonprofit graduate students that are employed by 501 (c) (3) organizations. Since the inception of the program, each of these students has received a $5,000 to defray his/her tuition costs – a benefit that will now be easier to sustain given this type of support. •
Developed several new international courses that we will be offering in Mexico and Guatemala this academic year. These courses are part of an overall effort by the School of Leadership and Education Sciences to ensure that our students understand the challenges of leading organizations in a multi-cultural world.
Hosted our fourth Nonprofit Governance Symposium attended by 400 nonprofit practitioners from throughout the county. We are busily planning for our fifth annual conference which will be held on January 9th and 10th and promises to be more exciting than ever. If you’d like more information on this excellent and affordable training opportunity for staff and board members, please visit our website.
We also admitted a new cohort of master’s and doctoral students (we now have 64 MA students and 10 nonprofit-focused Ph.D. students), and saw our affiliated faculty and doctoral students make more than a dozen presentations throughout the country at places including the U.S. Department of Education, the Academy of Management, West Coast Nonprofit Data Conference, Multi-Sector Leadership Forum, and Nonprofit Congress. Many of us are scheduled to present this November at the International Leadership Association Conference and at Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action conference. A report on this past academic year would not be complete without mention of two important comings and goings. First, we were bereft at the loss of one of our outstanding Ph.D. students, Stephen Velez-Confer, who passed away in May. Stephen helped grow the Center through his excellent work -- looking closely, among other things, at deficit spending trends for San Diego county nonprofits. He also designed a wonderful course on bi-national nonprofits which will be taught this coming spring by Richard Kiy, Executive Director of the International Community Foundation. Stephen inspired many of the students he taught as well as those of us at the Center with his intelligence, endless patience and good humor. He will be awarded a doctoral degree posthumously this spring. On a much happier note, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Mary McDonald to our faculty. Mary has come to us from the Dorothy Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University where she led a 10 member team researching nonprofit issues. She is known throughout the country for her work on the nonprofit sector. We are looking forward to having her teach us everything she knows! I want to acknowledge the work of everyone who makes the Center work. In particular Dr. Robert Donmoyer, Co-Director of the Institute, a trusted friend and colleague who is
responsible for much of this work. Laura Stein, our multi-talented Assistant Director, who works on everything from marketing to administration to events management. And of course, our wonderful doctoral student researchers – most notably Laura Deitrick, who is the brain and brawn behind many of our major projects, as well as Lindsey McDougle, Heather Carpenter, and Melanie Hitchcock – each of whom have made tremendous contributions to the Center this year. In a few weeks we’ll be welcoming Kjell Stroomer and Tom Cesarini to the research team at the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research; soon you will be reading about their work on our behalf. Finally, none of this work would be possible without the incredible support we receive from our wonderful Dean, Paula Cordeiro, dedicated Advisory Board members (we really work them hard), talented faculty, and generous donors. For all of these reasons and others I have not begun to mention, this is truly a wonderful place to teach the craft of leading and managing nonprofits and to research the third sector. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done and continue to do to help us build the Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research into our greatest aspiration of a world-class institution for third sector studies. Our work is only possible because of your support. If you would like to meet with me or otherwise speak with me about our work at the Institute and Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research, I’d be delighted to do so. You can reach me at (619) 282-8875.
Pat Libby Clinical Professor Co-Director, Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research