James Asp, director of principal and leadership gifts at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has been named UCSF's new Associate Vice Chancellor for University Development and Alumni Relations.
Asp will begin his new position on June 29 and report directly to Bruce Spaulding, Vice Chancellor, University Advancement and Planning.
"I am delighted that we have been able to recruit an individual who I am sure will provide insightful leadership for our fundraising efforts," says Spaulding.
During his four-year tenure at Sloan Kettering, Asp has developed a reputation as a successful national fundraiser and campaign strategist. He hopes to bring that same formula to UCSF, which faces a daunting list of fundraising needs at a time when state support has shrunk to just 11 percent of its operating budget.
"It is always difficult to raise money for bricks and mortar such as Mission Bay and future patient care facilities. But UCSF has a remarkable fundraising tradition thanks to the generous support of the Bay Area community," says Asp. "I hope to build on that success by taking advantage of UCSF's national reputation and presence."
While corporations and foundations, whose giving has now increased after a multi-year decline, will remain an important part of the donor mix, Asp believes that individuals ultimately decide the success of any institutional fundraising program. "What often motivates individuals, particularly as they get older and start to think more about health care, are the translational capabilities of the institution, the therapeutic promises of basic science."
UCSF's vast basic research enterprise - and the implications of that research for almost every human disease imaginable - is one reason Asp chose to return West. He served as Associate Vice Chancellor of Advancement for the University of California, Irvine between 1993 and 1999.
"I've spent most of my career in higher education [including Sarah Lawrence and George Washington universities] so I understand the academic environment very well. Working at Sloan-Kettering has also given me a respect for and grasp of strictly medical institutions too."
Asp will straddle both worlds in his UCSF role and lead the Development and Alumni Relations offices, he says, through a combination of honesty, integrity, enthusiasm and stamina. "Development officers tend to be optimistic. And why not? You get the chance to participate with smart and wonderful people for great causes. I want to encourage that feeling as I build the program."
A graduate of the University of Minnesota and George Washington University, Asp is a colleague of UCSF Nobel laureate Harold Varmus, former director of the National Institutes of Health and now President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Sloan-Kettering. "Harold Varmus continues to be a big fan of UCSF" and an advocate for its culture of collaboration, Asp says. "Even though I was prepared for it, the depth of the cohesion among UCSF leaders has been a welcome surprise."
The challenge now, he acknowledges, is to showcase this esprit - and the health discoveries it engenders -- to those who benefit most, but who know the institution least.