New Century Campaign director retires
With $1.1 billion fund-raising effort now complete, John Cash explores new horizons
By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
17 January 2001 | As director of the New Century Campaign, John Cash racked up some serious mileage, traveling to fund-raising events up and down the state, across the country and around the globe. He also commuted more than two hours a day from his home on the Peninsula.
This road warrior had a mission: raising $1.1 billion dollars in private money to offset dwindling support from the state and to maintain Berkeley's excellence.
With the help of numerous co-workers, faculty, students, administrators - and, of course, donors - Cash achieved this goal with about $300 million to spare, the most ever raised by a university without a medical school.
And with this mighty accomplishment under his belt, he has decided it is time to move on. After nearly eight years on campus, Cash is retiring from the university. At the end of a six-month leave, he will begin working for Marts and Lundy, a fund-raising consulting firm based in New Jersey.
"I'll be working out of my home," said Cash. "It'll be nice to not fight traffic anymore." Despite the kinder working conditions of his new job, Cash admits leaving Berkeley isn't going to be easy.
"The University of California has been part of my life since childhood," he said. "Most of my family attended UC schools." Before getting his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, Cash spent his undergraduate years at Berkeley. After holding fund-raising positions at Mills College and Stanford University, he was ecstatic to find himself back on campus in 1993 to head up the New Century Campaign.
Cash considers the ambitious fund-raising crusade one of the most important events in Berkeley's history. "When I got here in July of 1993, the fourth year of a major state-wide recession, Berkeley had just experienced a 30 percent reduction in state support, lost 27 percent of its faculty due to early retirement and cut workers' salaries by five percent," recalled Cash. "It wasn't the most conducive environment to start an unprecedented $1.1 billion fund-raising campaign."
Cash credits former chancellor Chang-Lin Tien for recognizing the need to find alternate means of support to prevent any erosion of Berkeley's stature. Despite considerable risk, Tien funded the launching of the campaign, said Cash.
"Supporting the campaign financially, when the campus had so many other competing needs, was a courageous act on his part," said Cash. "As a result, we felt a great responsibility to make it as successful as possible."
And a triumph it was, not only in the amount of money raised, but in new relationships built between alumni and friends around the world and the campus, said Cash.
"These connections make us a stronger university," he said. "Alumni and friends bring their knowledge and experience to campus and they, in turn, learn more about what we're doing. It's another positive outcome of the campaign."
Faculty, staff and students played a big part in the success of the effort, said Cash. They graciously participated in the many events that were part of campaign. Seeing and hearing about the work that goes on here creates great enthusiasm, and generosity, among Berkeley's alumni and friends, he said.
The New Century campaign marked a turning point in the role of fund raising as a means of financial support, said Cash. Because state funding has dramatically decreased over the years - from 70 to just 34 percent - maintaining Berkeley's excellence is now highly dependent upon philanthropy, he said.
Brokering the relationship between the campus and donors is the main role of development professionals, and a task that, according to many, Cash excelled at.
"John is one of the most talented development people I've worked with," said Walter J. Haas. "His thoughtful, forward-thinking approach was key to the success of the campaign. Besides, he has a perfect name for the job."
"John leaves Berkeley with a record of which anyone would be proud," said Chancellor Berdahl. "We will truly miss him."
"Berkeley owes John a great debt of gratitude," said Don McQuade, vice chancellor of university relations. "We all benefited from his vision, his dedication and his exceptional skills as a leader."
"John is a very human person and a great pleasure to work with," said Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism. "His energy is prodigious and his integrity absolute."
Cash said he will miss his "wonderful and superb" colleagues, being part of Berkeley's "day-to-day excellence" and the closeness he enjoyed with a number of donors. But he leaves with his objectives realized.
"I saw the campaign through from beginning to end, so I have a sense of true completeness," said Cash. "It feels good."
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