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Photo by: Ana Pizzolio
April 6, 2017
The Nicholls Foundation nominated a Nicholls State University alum, Jeremy Becker, as its new Executive Director.
Becker’s goal as the Executive Director is to grow the foundation by encouraging a culture of giving among alumni and the community, as well as making sure that the donors understand the importance of their gift to Nicholls.
“Nicholls means a lot to me,” Becker said. “Being on-campus now and doing that as a full time position is very exciting.”
The Nicholls Foundation is a separately incorporated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that, according to their affiliation agreement with Nicholls, has the responsibility to “raise, manage, distribute and steward private resources to support, advance and promote the various missions of the University.”
Christopher Riviere, Nicholls Foundation president, said that there is not a particular reason for that decision in regards to the past director. Becker’s employment with the foundation, which started on Saturday, April 1, is a new approach that envisions the growth of the foundation, its professorships, scholarships and endowments.
“We needed someone who can devote full-time efforts to the foundation, as opposed to balancing time between university duties and foundation duties,” Riviere said. “We wanted a full time fundraiser. Because we are a non-profit organization, there is certainly a degree of separation between private and public. It just made sense to do it this way.”
Becker has deep roots with Nicholls and strong relationships with the community throughout southeast Louisiana. He graduated from Nicholls in 1995 with a Bachelors degree in Marketing and furthered his education with an MBA in Management and Operations as a Colonel.
“Nicholls has been a part of my life since I was a kid,” Becker said. “Both of my parents have degrees from Nicholls, my father played basketball for Nicholls, my wife and I are both marketing grads with MBAs and we met on campus.”
In the past, the Vice President for University Advancement also served as the Executive Director of the Nicholls Foundation. However, according to Riviere a lot of Nicholls’ growth comes from people of southeast Louisiana, who are deeply rooted with the university. This new approach aims to establish and maintain connections with these people in order to ensure the growth of Nichols.
“We have such entrepreneurs in this area, and if we don’t have the local connection to sell the university to somebody who made a fortune but never went to college, we are not going to get their attention,” Riviere said.
According to Nicholls SACSCOC 2016 compliance report available on the Nicholls State University’s website, the assignment of the Vice President for University Advancement as the executive director of the Nicholls Foundation is an arrangement that “serves as a way to coordinate the fund-raising activities of the University with the active and prominent participation of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.”
“About November of last year, our board made the decision that we would have an executive director who had a deep regard for our university. Secondly, the new executive director would be someone who grew up and was raised in south Louisiana so that he had a working knowledge of our people and our culture. Thirdly, we wanted someone who had a very good background in raising money particularly for non-profits,” Riviere said. “Lo and behold we found Mr. Becker, and we think he fits what we were looking for.”
University President Bruce Murphy, in a statement issued to the Nicholls Worth, said, “Nicholls welcomes Jeremy Becker into his new role as executive director of the Nicholls Foundation. Due to cuts in state funding, the university has been without a development staff since 2009, so Jeremy’s addition will help expand our donor outreach and fundraising efforts… I look forward to collaborating with Jeremy and the Nicholls Foundation Board to continue advancing Nicholls.”
Becker is replacing Neal Weaver, vice president for university advancement and former executive director for the Nicholls Foundation.
“While the Foundation is an independent corporation, Jeremy will work closely with the university’s staff with the guidance of Neal Weaver, vice president for university advancement, to secure financial resources in support of the university’s mission,” Murphy said.
The Nicholls Worth contacted Weaver for an interview, but he was unavailable before the time of this publication. Check thenichollsworth.com for a follow up story about this transitioning process next week.