News & Events

Heise Takes On Senior Advancement Role

When Kathryn R. Heise enrolled at Illinois, she thought earning an MBA would lead to a livelihood in university administration.

Instead, a graduate assistantship in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences would point her to what would become her life’s passion.

“It just blew me away,” Heise, MBA ’94, said of the myriad opportunities availed to her at the LAS Advancement Office. “I learned so much . . . that I decided to make it my career.”

And so Heise has pursued a quarter century of work in the field of higher education advancement, from her first job as director of development at Wright State University Library to her current position as senior director of advancement operations at the University Library. Along the way, she has served at Illinois Institute of Technology, Lewis University, Rush University Medical Center, Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, Little Company of Mary Hospital, and Benedictine University.

According to Chris Prom, PHD ’02 LAS, the Library’s associate university librarian for digital strategies, Heise’s résumé and enthusiasm impressed him and other members of the search committee who interviewed her. “Kathryn brings a combination of excellent operational, organizational, and leadership skills, as well as strategic vision for what this Library is and what the Library can be for the future,” he said. “In addition, she established a strong connection with the faculty and . . . demonstrated a real ability to connect with the donor community.”

Heise, who began her post January 16, acknowledges the strong donor base already in place but realizes challenges exist. “It’s a matter of making sure that we’re telling the story of the tremendous influence that those donors have on the lives of our students and our faculty and our scholars and the community at large,” she said of the tasks before her. “I think that to explain the power of philanthropy is something that we can’t take lightly.”

Heise holds a bachelor of arts degree in English and art history, as well as a master’s degree in English, from Northern Illinois University. Recalling her time at Illinois, she remembers the Library as “heaven” and credits the university as having made her who she is.

“The Library is one of the very best in the country,” Heise said. In her full-circle return to the university, she describes her role as “polishing a gem that’s already a diamond—and making it even better.”

I think that to explain the power of philanthropy is something that we can’t take lightly.” ~Kathryn R. Heise

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