May 12, 2004

Texas' Ray hired as IA senior VP


By Michael Terrazas

Johnnie Ray, vice president for resource development at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, will join Emory on July 1 as senior vice president for Institutional Advancement, President Jim Wagner announced May 11. The appointment is pending approval by the University's Board of Trustees.

Ray, 52, will be charged with leading Emory's upcoming comprehensive campaign, and he is well suited for the job, having led UT's $1.5 billion, "We're Texas" campaign since 1997. The Texas campaign originally set a goal of $1 billion, but that mark was reached five years into the seven-year effort.

"Johnnie brings to Emory demonstrated leadership in development along with a deep sense of what is at the heart of higher education," Ray said. "He is eager to learn more of Emory and to use his office aggressively to help the components of our University advance toward their goals."

"In my view, Emory is one of America's indispensable universities with a powerful story to tell," Ray said. "In my 28 years in higher education, I have never felt quite so moved by the combination of quality and values expressed there. I saw a rich, textured undergraduate experience overlaid with professional graduate programs of the first order. Then, when you fold in the enormous medical research and health care enterprise, there is no question of Emory's value proposition. In many ways, it is a prestigious private institution with a very public mission--a compelling combination, to say the least. I am honored beyond words to have been chosen for this position.

"I just saw a great opportunity," he continued. "Sometimes you feel it in your heart, in your gut, when you know it's the right thing to do. This was it, no doubt about it."

Ray has been at Austin since 1996, starting as associate vice president for development before being promoted to his current post in October 1997. Previously he served for more than six years as director of development for the sciences at Pennsylvania State University, raising some $30 million and annually exceeding unit fund raising goals over that period.

As he prepares to lead Emory's comprehensive campaign, Ray said the first task is to establish a strong case and craft a unifying message. He said Emory's "public orientation," supplied by the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, along with direction provided by the University's vision statement, will help form the campaign's message.

"A campaign is two parts: It's the fund raising side, but it's also creating an atmosphere where philanthropy can occur naturally.The ability to present the university as being of great value to society is a winning proposition," Ray said. "So you start with a great product, you build a strong and outwardly focused case, you demonstrate the overall value proposition, and you get to work."

Though he will be moving from a public university at Texas of 50,000 students and 350,000 alumni to a private institution of 12,000 students and 80,000 alumni, Ray said he will carry over many of the same development principles.

"Though private universities are generally more nimble, the message is really not that different," he said. "A great research university, whether it's public or private, has a big impact on the society it serves, so the message can be shaped in somewhat similar fashion. If you look across the country at universities that have conducted successful campaigns, public and private, the one ingredient that is present in every case is the presence of a great research faculty--people who are really driving the new knowledge in their disciplines. Emory has that in abundance."

 Ray's soon-to-be former colleagues at Texas said Emory is getting an individual highly qualified to run its campaign. "We couldn't have asked for a more capable and visionary leader to direct the university's development efforts," UT President Larry Faulkner said. "Johnnie Ray's creativity and tireless dedication will be greatly missed. I am pleased that he has the chance to pursue such a prestigious opportunity."

Ray earned his bachelor's in political science and did graduate work at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He worked for 13 years at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, leaving in 1989 as associate vice president for development and university relations. Ray also has worked in television production and spent a year as owner and publisher of a weekly newspaper in Abilene. He has a son, Kevin, age 22 and a recent graduate of UT in linguistics.

Ray said he will try to visit campus a few times before July 1 to get to know his colleagues in Institutional Advancement, and he is relishing the opportunity to work on Emory's campaign.

"The whole campus community will play a role in shaping the case, but I do have some ideas that are beginning to take form," he said. "It's a lot of work, but it's enjoyable work, and I think everyone associated with Emory will get behind this thing and be part of it the way they need to be. We'll speak with one voice, and we'll be very successful, no question about it."