Getchel L. Caldwell’s Return to Clark Atlanta University


Getchel L. Caldwell, Fayetteville State University’s (FSU) vice chancellor for advancement and executive director of the FSU Foundation Inc., has returned to CAU as the University’s senior vice president for Institutional Advancement, effective Aug. 1.

Caldwell, who earlier in his career served as CAU’s associate vice president for community relations, University ombudsman and associate vice president for university relations, returns to Clark Atlanta at the pinnacle of a professional arc bridging high-level successes in institutional fundraising, development and capacity-building, strategic and operational planning, organizational communications and positioning, change management, policy development and governance.

In his new role, he will be directly responsible for institutional fundraising, major gifts, planned giving, the annual fund, alumni relations, advancement operations and university relations, all of which are critical elements in growing the culture of philanthropy at the University.  Additionally, he will position the University for increased annual fundraising, enhanced corporate and community partnerships, and harness the strength of the CAU alumni community worldwide to support the work of the University and its many initiatives.

He also will shepherd CAU’s University-wide fundraising efforts to ensure strategic alignment of fundraising efforts across areas, ranging from research and sponsored programs, the University’s four schools and administrative units and the athletics department, to the institution’s growing affinity affiliates. These efforts in concert with current momentum will accelerate progress toward positioning the University for its next major capital campaign.

“We are extremely fortunate to welcome Getchel Caldwell back into the Clark Atlanta University community,” President Johnson says.  “He played a pivotal role in the University’s 1988 consolidation and early capacity building, and has since honed his considerable expertise through a number of impressive institution-building assignments, each of them enriching the creative, visionary skills set he now brings home to CAU.”

As Fayetteville State’s vice chancellor for advancement, a position he has held since 2012, Caldwell planned and launched that university’s first comprehensive campaign, nearly completing the $25 million campaign and has identified the major prospects to complete the historic effort. In the first year of the campaign, giving escalated from $1.2 million to $9.14 million.   As important, he increased alumni giving from 1.95 percent to 13.5 percent during a three-year period.  Under his leadership, the University also transformed donor relations and reinvigorated relations with all affiliates, cultivated and closed its first million-dollar alumni gift and identified the resources for the University to conduct wealth screening of over 30,000 records to grow the University’s prospect base.  He also re-calibrated advancement operations to improve accountability, stewardship, communications and reporting processes to donors and ushered in a donor-centric model for the university.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to support President Ronald A. Johnson’s vision for Clark Atlanta University,” Caldwell says.  “His focus on mobilizing for the future and his keen observation that it is important to include every voice in doing so, particularly the national alumni community, makes this the optimal moment to reconnect with an institution that has in so many ways shaped the course of this great nation and, more personally, my own academic, professional and civic journey.  CAU is a very attractive investment for alumni, corporations, foundations and the philanthropic community as the University remains seriously focused on ensuring a smart, competitive, diverse workforce in an increasingly globalized economy.   I am eager to build a skilled team that can effectively articulate the energy and immense strategic value of connecting and reconnecting the University with the opportunities that align with the mission of Clark Atlanta worldwide.   I intend to implement a 21st century, donor-centric advancement and university’s relations model that will uplift and amplify the University’s new, very aggressive strategic agenda of the University.”

Not coincidentally, the expertise that Caldwell brings to CAU’s mobilization centers upon regenerative change agency.  While at Tuskegee University (2007-2011), he secured $9 million in direct gifts and pledges in support of a $175 million capital campaign, and brokered myriad corporate and government initiatives.  He also secured a $1.6 million planned gift enabling support for students in veterinary medicine.   He also initiated the University’s first contract with Alabama Medicaid, worth up to $3 million over a three-year period.  He has distinguished himself as a sharp, visionary administrator. He was selected to play the pivotal role of co-chairing the nation’s salute to the famed Tuskegee Airmen and was the University’s agent in planning and raising the resources for the national celebration and grand opening of The Tuskegee Airmen National Site and Museum.

In his role as vice president for Institutional Advancement at Morris Brown College, where he served from 2004-2007, he chaired the institution’s senior management team during a period of extreme organizational crisis.  From 1984 to 1987, Caldwell served as assistant vice president for development at Johnson C. Smith University where he participated in the school’s Era of Excellence Campaign and managed planned giving, corporate and foundation relations and facilitated the development of the Friends of Johnson C. Smith University.

During his previous service with Clark Atlanta, Caldwell served his initial assignment as director of development for Atlanta University and, upon the institution’s consolidation with Clark College, associate vice president for development and institutional relations from 1989 to 1996.  Caldwell helped galvanized the institution’s national alumni community and, under his guidance, CAU launched and completed the first phase of a capital campaign, which raised $11.5 million.  He also served as associate vice president for university relations and spokesperson from 1996 to 2000, overseeing the university’s public relations, events planning, community relations, grant writing and community relations functions, and serving as the University’s primary representative for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.  From 2000 to 2003, Caldwell served as the University’s associate vice president for community relations, where his work on strategic initiatives—the $130 million Westside Village redevelopment and the Atlanta (research) Outreach Consortium among them—that helped position Clark Atlanta as a key player in the region’s progress.

A sought-after national speaker and presenter, Caldwell began his professional career with the City of Atlanta Department of Public Safety.  He earned the B.S. degree cum laude from Florida A&M University and the MPA degree (with honors) in urban and regional administration from Atlanta University.

He holds certifications in volunteer management and criminal justice planning and is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta and Leadership Charlotte.  His record of professional service is under girded by robust civic and community service throughout his career.

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