"Consummate professional" bids farewell

Published: 30 November 2017

Cathy Bell, Director of Development and Alumni, said her goodbyes last week after a thirty-year, distinguished career at the University of Glasgow.

Cathy Bell, Director of Development and Alumni, said her goodbyes last week after a thirty-year, distinguished career at the University of Glasgow.

Many of her colleagues from across the disciplines at the UofG gathered last Wednesday to wish her well.  David Duncan, Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary, said, "Cathy has made a tremendous contribution to the University and to the service it offers students, alumni and staff, and to fundraising in the Higher Education sector. We will be sorry to see her go."

The Principal, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, paid his tribute at the informal gathering in the Gilbert Scott Conference Suite. Sir Anton said, "As you all know, Cathy is University of Glasgow through and through. Not only has she dedicated thirty years of her life to this University...she studied here too." The Principal said that a dig through the University Archives had revealed that Cathy had been an actively engaged student, raising funds for the Glasgow University Athletic Club, playing hockey for the UofG and a member of the editorial board of the Glasgow Guardian.

Amazing achievement

Turning to her professional career at the University, Sir Anton said, "Her career has been nothing short of remarkable. She started development work in 1987 as an administrative assistant when there were no other staff and the graduate register and donor information were held on a series of index cards.  Now we have more than fifty staff in the Development and Alumni Office raising millions of pounds each year with a £110 million campaign on the way which Cathy has helped to launch.

“There has also been a whole series of capital projects over a period of time and under Cathy's leadership, DAO has raised just over £100 million already."  The projects included the Paul O'Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre, the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, the Wolfson Medical School and the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment. Cathy had also served five Vice-Chancellors.

The Principal continued: "Cathy is the consummate professional who does not believe in exaggerated claims about fundraising; she always sets out plans that are rooted in reality and based on underplaying - not overplaying - her own talents and experience. I was really delighted that in recognition of her abilities she was given a CASE Europe Distinguished Service award this year...an amazing achievement.

"In conclusion, Cathy, from all your colleagues in DAO, in wider External Relations and in the wider University, thank-you for your distinguished and selfless service to the University."

Great fun

In her farewell remarks, Cathy said the gathering was like having her life flash in front of her. She thanked all those who had contributed to her leaving gifts and those who had been able to attend the gathering.

Cathy spent some moments looking back at her career, remarking that when she started work at the UofG, Ronald Reagan was President of the USA and Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. She had initially worked for Sir Professor Hugh Sutherland who was tasked with initiating development and alumni work at the University. "The day I started I was handed seven donor files of people who had gifted deeds of covenant - and that was it!"

"The Development and Alumni Office expanded dramatically in 2001 when we had the 550th anniversary of the founding of the University of Glasgow. This was when many of the current DAO stalwarts joined us.

“Between those who served then, we now have nearly 120 years of experience of fund raising!  We also have wonderful new people too who have joined us and enhanced the team. As long as you can embrace new ideas, it does not really matter how long you have been somewhere”.

Cathy paid tribute to all University staff she had worked with over her UofG career, saying what a privilege it had been work with them. "I would like to thank everyone and to emphasise that this was not a 'one-woman-show'! This has been all about the DAO team, which will now be led by Fran Shepherd, who has already been with us four years”.

In summing up the heart of her years of experience, Cathy said

"Leading a successful development team is all about building relationships with people. And that has been great fun. "

Image of Cathy Bell, the Director of DAO at her retiral function with Sir Anton Muscatelli and Sir Kenneth Calman



First published: 30 November 2017