November 1, 1998
Jane Bickford thinks stretches are terrific and she's ready to lead Tulane in the effort. It's not a physical-fitness regimen. In the lingo of fund raisers, "stretches" are campaign goals that are ambitious enough to require the institution to stretch to reach them.
As Tulane's newest vice president, heading the Office of Institutional Advancement, Bickford welcomes the chance to work toward President Scott Cowen's ambitious development goals. Bickford will arrive on campus Jan. 1 from her current post as associate dean for development and alumni relations at the Columbia University School of Law in New York.
During Cowen's convocation address last month, he asserted that Tulane would need "obscene amounts of money" in order to reach its goals. That challenge is just what Bickford wanted to hear.
"With someone like Scott leading the charge I have no doubt we'll be tremendously successful," Bickford said in a telephone interview from her New York office. "The stretch is a much bigger universe. That's exciting, that's why I'm taking on this job, for the challenge of doing it."
When the Columbia Law School's campaign began in 1991, Bickford was told "if you raise $74 million you'll be lucky." Under her leadership, the campaign raised nearly $150 million with an alumni base of about 16,000. "I've had my fingers on every step of this campaign (at Columbia) and I look forward to taking that skill and knowledge and bringing it to Tulane," she said.
With that success under her belt, Bickford is ready for the Tulane challenge. "Jane was a standout among many highly qualified, experienced candidates because of her breadth of experience in development," said Yvette Jones, senior vice president for planning and administration. "I know she will hit the ground running." "I've always said the only university I'd leave Columbia for is Tulane," Bickford said.
That's because she lived in New Orleans for several years as a child and has returned many times to visit a number of family members. Her grandfather owned a house at 712 Broadway, which is now home to the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
"I have a warm, wonderful feeling about Tulane," Bickford said. She is pleased that the campus looks in "great shape" in terms of buildings, an important consideration from a fund-raising perspective. "Tulane is terrific academically and the plant looks good and solid and new. From a fund-raising point of view, you take Scott's vision and just try to ratchet everything up and make it better," she said. "It's a fund-raiser's dream."
She is especially excited about coming to work for Cowen. "I was so favorably impressed with his enthusiasm, his charismatic leadership and his vision for Tulane," Bickford said. "I'm thrilled to be part of his administrative team."
She is also pleased about Cowen's decentralization plan that would place more fund-raising responsibilities within the schools and colleges. Deans are "tremendous representatives of their programs," Bickford said, calling it is a "dynamite combination" to have a president working with larger donors and deans working to raise gifts for their schools.
As for her plans for the Office of Institutional Advancement, Bickford is planning a series of in-depth assessments with outside experts to analyze the department's operation and how best to organize it to support Cowen's strategic initiatives.
"I don't come to this position feeling that I have all the answers--we will all work together in partnership, as a team," she said. Bickford has spent nine years at Columbia and two years at Barnard College as associate director of development and director of planned giving, in addition to several other positions in fund raising. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in sociology from New York University.
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