Meet a Vanderbilt USAC Member: Geoff Little
What department do you work in and what is your job title?
I work in Vanderbilt University’s fundraising area, officially called “Development and Alumni Relations” or “DAR.” My specialty in this group is called Prospect Research and I work with a handful of leaders — there are about 11 of us total. My title is Assistant Director of Prospect Research in Research and Prospect Development (RPD). I am constantly looking at public information online (and in a giant database) for Vanderbilt alumni and friends who might (or already are) be able to partner with Vanderbilt in the present or future in some way — financially or otherwise.
A new friend at VU (a USAC friend I might add) recently noted “I get it, in Spanish, the word dar means, to give. You guys are soooo smooth!”
But I must admit, after over 14 years here — (gulp) the light bulb is JUST going on in this way — I’d never thought of DAR as “dar.” Wow. It takes a village. I thought it was just an abbreviation.
How long have you been a Vanderbilt employee?
It will be 15 years come April 2019! I have been in the same department of prospect research within Development and Alumni Relations the whole time. Weird, I know, but we go where we are appreciated! Things I like: the Internet (conceptually, business-wise, evolutionarily, social-media-ey) and I lean on all of this regularly with my job. I also work with the BEST colleagues. We are ready to help each other in whatever way. There is a lot of trust and goodwill in my immediate group and in the overall fundraising area.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
When there is unknown information on a friend, alumni, faculty and/or staff relationship Vanderbilt keeps past or present and it comes up via a news story, web alert or some other way via information being transferred, I enjoy assisting the institution to organize this information. We use publicly available news updates. There is so much content online in today’s world but it takes a human brain to organize and strategize with all of this. At least, until the robots take over — haha.
Are you a part of any other committees at VU?
I participate in the Vanderbilt Blue Sky energy initiative, looking institutionally at current energy use at Vanderbilt University and how — campus-wide, including students, faculty, and staff — we could create the cleanest energy use possible in the years to come. Could we even be a net-positive energy campus where we supply energy and/or fuel in some way to our neighbors? Haha. Sometimes our conversations approach science fiction (I was recently guilty of a Mad Max reference), but we know, as a global society, what energies are most renewable, and those that are not. Our varied job expertise and then, also, our unique sense(s) of culture and trends in the world — including what is going on with other institutions — have guided our conversations. (A resolution is expected from the committee by early 2019 and — if it sounds good — I will take tons of credit! Haha. Joking. There are plenty of REAL experts in there). But this committee has highlighted the best of Vanderbilt — a real sense of collaboration.
I also was accepted into the Business of VU leadership program earlier this summer. I am one of about 30 from across the campus who, about every other week, meet and learn from Vanderbilt senior leaders how Vanderbilt University generates revenue and then spends out for services, salaries and assets — whether through the endowment fund yield, tuition revenues, grants, gifts or otherwise. Essentially, how does our beloved institution “keep it real.” 🙂
This has been one of the great “sneak peeks” into how VU is and does what it does. I recommend anyone apply and attend if it sounds interesting to them! This year was the group’s second time and I believe they will offer it again in 2019. It’s not like it is a bunch of secrets. The best thing is the wonderful roster of senior leaders from across campus who share their perspective on how Vanderbilt makes decisions financially (always wisely, of course!) The stories I have heard over the last several weeks of challenging decisions made in the short term, knowing the Vanderbilt way is to aim for solid long-term gain, oh man, has been incredibly inspirational.
Do you have any pets? If so, explain!
My wife and I have a tabby cat, about four years old, whose name is “Cordelia.” We call her “Poopie,” however, but not for reasons that you might think. She is a wonderful part of our family and has the most modest diet of the three of us.
What is a favorite TV show, movie, podcast, etc.?
I enjoy a variety of stimulating media outlets — oh man, how is it possible to even keep up with how much “content” is out there anymore. I dabble in dramatic writing, creative pursuits and a truly excellent literary podcast that I came across in 2012, Other People with Brad Listi. He is a fantastic interviewer and many of the authors are unknown because they are up-and-coming. The whole feel is pretty “indie.” Not that many people know about it so I will give a shout-out.
What are you most proud of in your life thus far?
I met a female colleague in July 2012 at Vanderbilt and, as a leader in my group, was of course, an exemplary employee. I was never her boss, I might add. After a year of working together, always strictly professional, I asked her if she had any interest in attending a One Republic (a pop music band) concert that I “happened” to have an extra ticket for on a weekend occasion. This was August 2013.
We married in the summer of 2016. She no longer works at Vanderbilt University, but is a part of leading fundraising for the Nashville Symphony. Thank you EVERYONE for getting me through a somewhat weird time and across the finish line! You never know what this institution might bring to you.
One last thing. I lead a pub sing experience called Beer & Hymns with a local brewery, The Black Abbey Brewing Company. More information is here at beerhymns.com.