Shake up in leadership at NU Foundation


February 1st, 2012

Omaha, NE – The University of Nebraska Foundation announced late Wednesday CEO Clarence Castner will no longer serve the organization. In a statement, Peter Whitted, M.D., the chair of the Foundation’s board of directors said former Omaha World-Herald publisher John Gottschalk will lead the Foundation on an interim basis. The Foundation is a heavyweight fundraiser for the four campuses of the University of Nebraska system.

Clarence Castner has led the University of Nebraska Foundation through record fundraising years. (Photo credit NU Foundation)

No reasons were given for Castner’s swift, and unexpected, departure. But in an interview with the Omaha World-Herald, Castner said he left because of “philosophical differences” with Whitted, who took over as board chair just a few weeks ago. The move appeared to take the Foundation leadership and staff by surprise. Staff members were informed of Castner’s departure late Wednesday.

Castner joined the Foundation staff shortly after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1989. He rose swiftly through the ranks, and was promoted to the position of CEO in 2008. He led the organization through record fundraising years, despite the country’s worst economic recession in decades. The Foundation is currently in the midst of the largest capital fundraising campaign of its history, and is less than $75 million from its goal of $1.2 billion raised.

Whitted provided few details in his statement, but thanked Castner for all he has accomplished with the Foundation, saying “we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

3 Responses

  1. Thomas says:

    I must admit that I am not surprised by the change in leadership at the NU Foundation. It has long been an organization that has rebuffed professionalism in its fundraising practices. The NU Foundation employs nice and engaging graduates of the University system, but rarely do they employ professional fundraisers who would bring new and innovative processes to the organization. (How many current and former foundation employees were hired because they worked at or met the top leadership of the Foundation at Barrymore’s Pub?)
    This topped off with a, now former, CEO who is more an egomaniac than a leader. Mr. Castner has always been more keenly focused on his own personal reputation and the “circles” he has access to as CEO; than that of what is best for the organization. I for one am happy to see the change and hope that the search committee finds someone with the background and experience level that will provide true leadership at the Foundation and employ a best practices model for fundraising.
    You may now count on my financial support NU!

  2. melinda says:

    Given the huge successes that the foundation has had, I find it more than offensive that Thomas refers to them as unprofessional. Does Mr Gottschalk even have a college degree???

    • Griffin Mill says:

      Melinda, Is the “bottom line” the only criteria for professionalism? If you have an organization that creates a hostile environment for women … if you have an organization that does not value integrity … if you have an organization that is driven by cronyism … that is not a professional environment. The “bottom line” is important, but it is not the only criteria for judging the professionalism. By forcing Clarey out maybe Dr. Whitted is simply trying to restore integrity and ethical standards to the Foundation.

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