Senior Director of Development & External Relations
University of Arkansas Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences
Blake Rickman has a professional title that runs margin to margin, but the story of how he earned it is much simpler.
Rickman is in charge of raising money and scholarship administration — among many other things — as the “outward-facing arm” of the University of Arkansas’ College of Arts & Sciences. Rickman joined the UA to research fundraising for academia before realizing he wanted to do it professionally.
“What you find with most people in this line of work is you stumble into it one way or another,” Rickman said. “You do have to be comfortable around people. It’s a strange mix. You’re trying to satisfy the intent of a donor who usually has very specific things they want to do, and you’re trying to match that with an opportunity of need on campus. You’re a mediator between the needs and the wants of the institution and the donor.”
Rickman has helped the UA with several major success stories in the art world, including the creation of the School of Art ($120 million donation) and the Windgate Art & Design District ($40 million donation). It made Rickman quite the art expert, although he can barely draw stick figures himself.
“We cover everything and try not to specialize too much because you never know what you’re going to talk about that day,” Rickman said. “I can talk about art now, and I can recognize good versus bad, but as far as personal ability, I have zero. It’s just not there. I’m an artist translator.”
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