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Illinois State's chief fundraiser to retire in May

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Dianne Ashby ISU 2008 file photo
Dianne Ashby, vice president of University Advancement at ISU, talks about the new ISU alumni center in July 2008. (Pantagraph file photo/LORI ANN COOK-NEISLER)

NORMAL -- Illinois State University chief fundraiser Dianne Ashby says she'll retire in May after nearly 20 years at the Normal campus.

Her role as university advancement vice president began about five years ago, when she switched gears from her job as ISU College of Education dean.

The campus will launch a national search to find a replacement.

The decision to leave was "purely personal," said Ashby.

She and husband Jack Lockman "love being a part of ISU," but now are ready to spend time on world travel. He's already been retired a decade, she added. First, they hope to explore Australia and New Zealand.

ISU President Bowman credits Ashby, who began her fundraising role just as major capital campaign Redefining Normal ended, with solidifying "a culture of philanthropy among alumni, corporate stakeholders and the University community."

Ashby said any replacement will need to start another significant campaign, as soon as the country emerges from the economic crisis.

While an academic dean moving to a fundraiser role is uncommon, Ashby said she used the two roles to build an understanding among academics that their work and raising money for the campus go hand-in-hand.

"What is most important at ISU is pride in its academic excellence. In order to raise money, we need to focus on that," she said, spreading the message of the colleges' success stories to donors and alumni.

During her tenure, Ashby oversaw the acquisition of the new Alumni Center, located at 1101 N. Main St., Normal. She also helped establish a new ISU marketing plan and outreach strategies to connect with alumni.

She helped ISU develop 70 new endowments to the Illinois State University Foundation, which now provides funding for more than 600 scholarships to Illinois State students.

Ann Baughan, who leads the foundation, said ISU will reap the benefits of Ashby's fundraising for years to come.

Ashby held numerous positions since arriving at ISU in 1991, including College of Education dean, educational administration and foundations department head, University High School principal, and Illinois Postsecondary HIV Prevention Education Project coordinator.

Prior to coming to Illinois State, Ashby held administrative and teaching positions in PK-12 schools and with the Illinois Department of Corrections and the State Board of Education.

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