When Rob Parker walked through the doors of the Arts and Sciences Foundation as its new executive director in October 2014, he already had a deep appreciation for its mission.
Parker was part of Carolina’s development team from 2000 to 2009, his last position as director of capital gifts at the Arts and Sciences Foundation. He provided strategic leadership for major gift activity for the Carolina First campaign, in which the College surpassed its $350 million campaign goal by more than $30 million. Before joining the foundation, Parker served as director of major gifts for Kenan-Flagler Business School and as a regional major gifts officer in University Development.
As executive director of the foundation and senior associate dean for development for the College of Arts and Sciences, Parker leads a 26-person staff composed of development officers and donor relations, prospect management and administrative professionals.
“I am deeply grateful to Dean [Karen] Gil for inviting me to return home to Carolina,” said Parker. “The College remains the heart and soul of this great university, and I am excited about working with colleagues, the foundation’s board and our generous benefactors to secure the philanthropic support that will enable our faculty to prepare our students to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that the 21st century presents.”
Before returning to Carolina in October, Parker was vice president for college advancement at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., a position he’d held since 2009. At Agnes Scott, he planned, organized and executed the school’s largest fundraising effort to date — The Greatness Before Us campaign, which has raised more than $87 million toward its $100 million goal.
Parker began his career in development at the University of Chicago, where he earned an M.A. in religious studies (1989) and a doctorate in theology (1997). He has a B.A. in history from Baylor University in Texas. Parker is married to Beth Taylor and they have two daughters, Larkin and Sallie.
Arts and Sciences Foundation Executive Directors
John G. Webb – 1983-1988
Elizabeth Fitts – 1988-1989
Barbara Habel (now Hyde) – 1989-1992
Dennis Cross – 1992-2000
James W. May Jr. – 2001-2012
Shannon Kennedy – 2012-2014
Robert J. Parker Jr. – 2014-present
Foundation @ 40
Created in October 1975 to raise private support for the College of Arts and Sciences, the Arts and Sciences Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2015. Its first executive board of directors included Frank B. Hanes Sr., Elizabeth Dowd, James R. Gaskin, William F. Little and Charles M. Shaffer.
Today, the foundation’s endowment of nearly $200 million supports students with scholarships, graduate student fellowships, and study abroad and undergraduate research funding. It also aids faculty with research funding, fellowships, course enhancements and technology. About $400 million in University endowment funding also benefits the College, for a total of more than $600 million in endowment support.