Professional News

Mobley Awards Honor Outstanding Achievement, Tireless Employees in Philanthropy, Alumni Relations

photo of Mobley Award winners
The 2018 Terry B. Mobley Award winners, (from left) Jamie Risen, Mitch Barnhart, Greg Casey, Lori Eckdahl, Tarin Adams and Amber Bowling, were honored Wednesday in the Woodford Reserve Room at Kroger Field. Photo by Ashley Ritchie.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 30, 2018) A trendsetter, a tireless and organized professional, a strategic thinker, an inspiring individual and a devoted University of Kentucky servant. These are just some of the traits that distinguish the 2018 Terry B. Mobley Philanthropy Award recipients, who were honored Wednesday in the Woodford Reserve Room at Kroger Field.

The awards, named for UK’s first vice president for development, Terry B. Mobley, recognize UK employees who have demonstrated excellence in fundraising and alumni relations, through their professional achievement, advocacy in the community or service to UK. Each recipient receives a commemorative plaque, a $500 stipend and recognition on the wall of award winners in Sturgill Philanthropy Building.

“These individuals exemplify what we are trying to achieve in UK Philanthropy,” said D. Michael Richey, vice president for philanthropy and alumni relations. “Through their work, relationships and connections, they are advancing the university. They are helping us to improve lives and transform communities, and most importantly, they are helping us to reach our $2.1 billion campaign goal.”

Among the recipients this year is Mitch Barnhart, athletic director, whose leadership has elevated the UK Athletics program. Under his direction, UK has launched several initiatives aimed at improving the athletic and academic performance of its student-athletes. He also serves on NCAA boards and committees, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, and actively supports the Christian Student Fellowship and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

In his 17 years, multiple teams have competed in and won national championships and secured All-America honors, the department has increased the overall grade-point average of its teams and UK has completed more that $300 million in construction and renovation projects, offering better facilities for Wildcats to train and compete.

“Our donors believe in him and his vision,” his nominator wrote. “That belief is why they support us so generously. What makes Mitch different than a typical fundraising athletics director is his commitment to the University of Kentucky as a whole. He was one of the first ADs in America to give back to the academic mission of the university … and thanks to the impact UK Athletics has made in funding academic scholarships and the Jacobs Science Building, you are seeing the trend take hold in college athletics.”

The Professional Achievement Award recognizes two staff members who have achieved significant success as a philanthropy or alumni relations professional. One of this year’s recipients is Greg Casey, interim senior director of philanthropy and alumni relations in Gatton College of Business and Economics. A UK alumnus, Casey has worked at UK for 15 years, beginning as a student caller in UK’s Phonathon program.

Now the senior fundraising professional, Casey secures critical support for his college and alma mater, working with the university’s top donors, and serves as a mentor to his peers.

“Greg is a consummate professional,” his nominator wrote. “He has an ability to think strategically to move donors along the giving continuum and is dedicated to being a team player campus-wide. When Greg first started at UK, he was someone I felt honored to work with. He was an inspiring figure when he entered our field over a decade ago, and now, he is a true seasoned professional in the field.”

The other Professional Achievement Award honoree is Amber Bowling, alumni program coordinator in the College of Pharmacy. Not only is she an “events guru,” according to her nomination, she trained and guided the college’s new dean and communications and philanthropy directors, introducing them to key alumni and donors. Her leadership built a strong campaign committee and kick-started fundraising toward the College of Pharmacy’s initiatives and campaign goal.

The Front Line Award recognizes a staff member who has supported philanthropy efforts, and according to her numerous nominators, Tarin Adams is the epitome of that description. A staff support associate dedicated to Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, Adams coordinates events, meetings and reports and is a liaison between central philanthropy and the colleges and units. Often staying late and assuming new responsibilities, Adams’ organization, flexibility and positive attitude allow her to troubleshoot problems and keep everything running smoothly.

“Tarin has been tireless in her service to all and constantly produces excellent work,” one nominator wrote. “She is the first to jump in and help, no matter who it is or when issues arise,” another wrote. “She’s thoughtful and organized in how she handles both her work and how she goes about it. I often hear comments from colleagues in UK Philanthropy and across the university about her competency and professionalism.”

True to its name, the Rising Achievement Award rewards two professionals who have worked in philanthropy or alumni relations for less than five years. However, their work and success indicate their potential to make significant contributions to the university. This year’s recipients are Jamie Risen, assistant director for development and accounting specialist for UK Athletics and the K Fund, and Lori Eckdahl, director of administrative services in UK Philanthropy.

Both were described as organized, efficient and consistently going above and beyond in their duties.

“Jamie makes sure the job gets done, no matter what it takes,” her nominator wrote. “She is a positive presence in our office and her calm demeanor and clear-headed approach are steadying forces in our office. She has a complete grasp of the importance of philanthropy to our mission and to accomplishing our goals. The sky is the limit for her future.”

Handling human resources, policy and procedures and purchasing, Eckdahl was a valuable resource as the UK Alumni Association merged with UK Philanthropy this year. She helped reconfigure work spaces and managed complex financial issues while remaining a calming presence.

“Lori always has the best interest of the Office of Philanthropy and the UK Alumni Association at heart,” her nominator wrote. “Her work ethic is top notch, and she keeps things in check, ensuring that policies and procedures are adhered to. She has worked to positively network with campus colleagues and has a connection in many units across campus.”

The Mobley Awards program began in 2005 to honor the 27-year advancement career of Mobley. A former basketball player who played under Adolph Rupp, he returned to his alma mater in 1977 and used his connections to grow the university’s fundraising from $3 million annually to about $61 million. The awards program has honored more than 50 individuals since its inception.