Centre College Vice President Richard Trollinger named IU Distinguished Alumnus
Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations at Centre College, was recently honored by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Alumni Association with their Distinguished Alumni Award.
“I was really surprised by it—and honored, of course,” Trollinger says. “It pleased me a great deal, because it recognized my work as an educational fundraiser as well as a student of philanthropy.”
Trollinger earned a master’s in philanthropic studies from the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2002, but he has worked in the field of philanthropy in higher education for over four decades.
“I’ve had a strong sense of calling about what I do,” Trollinger says. “Like many of the good things in my life, my vocation found me instead of me finding it.”
A first-generation college student, Trollinger “depended heavily on the kindness of strangers for the cost of my education,” he says, and was interested in paying it forward for others.
While working in alumni relations for Emory & Henry College, Trollinger experienced an epiphany that cemented philanthropy as his career path after assisting two families in the creation of endowed scholarships in memory of their loved ones.
“I remember well realizing that those two experiences had given me greater personal satisfaction than any work I had ever done,” Trollinger said in his acceptance speech. “Part of the reason for this great sense of satisfaction is that I realized those scholarships would help other young people from backgrounds similar to my own obtain the benefits of a college education. From that moment forward, I knew that educational fundraising was my calling—my vocation.”
“Philanthropy is moral action,” Trollinger continued. “Fundraising, in the words of Hank Rosso, is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving. In my work, I have sought to encourage giving as a way to enable people to touch the good within themselves.”
Trollinger, considered one of the nation’s foremost experts in educational fundraising, is the co-author of Philanthropy and American Higher Education, along with John R. Thelin. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Emory & Henry College. Along with his degree from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Trollinger also has an M.Ed. in higher education administration from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and a Ph.D. in educational policy studies from the University of Kentucky. His thesis at UK, exploring the impact of transformative giving on colleges and universities, was honored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as the top study regarding the role of philanthropy in higher education.
Joining the staff of Centre College in 1994, Trollinger previously served as vice president for development and external affairs at Emory & Henry College, where he played a pivotal role in increasing annual alumni giving from around $53,000 in 1974 to more than $1 million in 1993.
Over his 22 years at Centre, Trollinger has overseen $375 million in fundraising in campaign totals alone, including more than $140 million toward a $200 million goal for Centre’s current “Third Century Campaign.”
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award is given out once annually.
by Elizabeth Trollinger
October 13, 2016