John C. “Jack” Barner’s accomplished career in education is coming to a close as he celebrates his retirement this month. His tenure began at the University of Evansville in 2002 as the vice president of development and alumni relations His long career is filled with many achievements and successes.
In 2013, Bill Ridgway’s gift to UE was one of the top 50 gifts for anything in the United States that year, and Jack was a part of it.
“Bill Ridgway left us $38 million—that was a career highlight,” Jack says. “I had worked with Bill for 12 years. He had already given us $10 million for Ridgway University Center and another $3 million for the endowment, so we’re talking about over 50 million dollars from one man—that’s astounding!”
Dr. Tom Kazee, UE president, says it’s Jack’s understanding of philanthropy and the critical role it plays in supporting the University that has been instrumental in building a remarkable record of giving to UE.
“Our donors often tell me how much they enjoy working with Jack, and especially how much they enjoy the personal relationships they develop with him,” Kazee says. “He knows that success in fundraising is more than just asking for money—it’s about treating people with respect and sensitivity to their personal circumstances.”
Jack had a long career before coming to the University of Evansville. He received his BA in History from Siena College and Masters in Political Science at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, Jack taught at South Colonie High School for 19 years. While teaching, Jack also served as a member of the Albany County Legislature, chairing the finance committee of that body. He then became director of admission at the College of Saint Rose, later to be hired by Colgate University as the director of the Annual Fund Office. He served at Colgate for over five years where he became the associate director of development. He was then hired by Winthrop University in South Carolina where he was executive director of development. He was then recruited by Elon College in North Carolina to be the vice president of University Advancement in charge of public relations, fundraising, alumni affairs and church relations. Five years later, he became the vice president at Oklahoma City University with similar duties before moving on to UE.
“I’ve worked for UE longer than I’ve ever worked for another university, and I’ve worked for a number of them,” says Jack. “Evansville has been a wonderful place to work. I’m literally excited every day I go into the office. I’ve been fortunate to have two very good bosses here; both Steve Jennings and Tom Kazee have been wonderful people to work with.”
Other highlights of his time at UE included his involvement in the McCarthy Greenhouse, the expansion of the Schroeder Family School of Business, and the Bower Suhrheinrich library renovations, which have recently begun.
“Jack has played a key role in just about every major project the University has undertaken, and every gift we’ve received, in the last decade,” says president Kazee.
Though he was involved in many projects during his time here, it’s the people that Jack says he’ll miss the most about the University of Evansville. “I’ll miss working with the team I’ve trained and mentored and coached. I’ll miss the donors, too. Some of these people have become close personal friends and I will work hard to keep all them as close as possible.”
Jack will still be around campus, though. He is staying involved with the office of development as the planned giving officer. He will work with people on estate planning to help donors figure out how best to help the university through bequests, shareable remainder trusts, annuities, lead trusts, and other options.