Truman hires Ernie Hughes as new vice president for university advancement

Underlying the daily lives of busy students buying textbooks, finalizing schedules and remembering which class is in which classroom there is an often invisible side of Truman State University that supports and makes possible the education those bustling students are receiving. Ernie Hughes, recently named vice president for university advancement, is one of the individuals in charge of fundraising for the University, which will ultimately provide experiences for students.

“[M]y whole philosophy when I look at people who give to Truman State [University], I want to make people give ‘through’ Truman State [University] rather [than] ‘to,’” said Hughes. “So when you’re saying ‘through,’ it means their gift takes a living form. So if you come here to get a scholarship, it’s a living form of how those donors’ fund dollars or their planned gift or just an annual gift makes a difference in the students’ lives.”

Hughes did similar work at the Southern University System in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as the Morehouse School of Medicine and Winona State University, serving as vice president of both institutions. Hughes graduated from Mississippi State University in 1988 with a finance degree and he finished his MBA in 1991. Hughes worked at Southern University for almost 21 years — 10 of it in the cooperative extension program working with community economic development and the last 10 1/2 in advancement. Concurrently with his work there, Hughes received his Ph.D. in human resources and development from Louisiana State University.

Hughes became familiar with Truman through connections at Winona State. Two of Truman’s former presidents have worked at Hughes’ previous institution.

“Dr. Krueger was a president at Winona State, and matter of fact you have the Krueger Library named after him at Winona, and then [Troy Paino], your previous president, was a dean there,” Hughes explained. “So that’s a very close connection with the two schools.”

The decision for Hughes to fill the vice president of university advancement position came after an extensive search involving a third party search firm to gather applicants, conducting virtual interviews and finally interviewing four of the best candidates on campus.

Janet Gooch, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, was involved in this process. She said interviews were an extended process, involving many different groups across campus.

“They met with the deans, they met with the department chairs, [and] they met with the advancement office,” said Gooch. “And we all had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Hughes and the other candidates, and then we elicit feedback from the Truman community, anybody who had the opportunity to meet the candidates, and they’re asked what are the strengths, what are the weaknesses and things like that.”

University President Sue Thomas had the final say in filling the position, and Gooch said the decision took into consideration the feedback from campus, alumni and other off-campus fundraising partners.

“Dr. Hughes has the expertise and experience to enhance the great work of the advancement team,” Thomas said. “He also has a lot of innovative and engaging ideas that will bring exciting opportunities to our campus. And on top of all of that, he is a cool, interesting person.”

For more, pick up a copy of The Index on Thursday, Aug. 30.