URBANA — The man who spearheaded a $2.3 billion fundraising campaign for the University of Illinois Foundation will step down as its president later this year.
Sidney Micek, president and CEO of the UI Foundation, announced to staff Monday morning that he plans to take leave of his position at the end of 2012 and will work on a part-time basis on special projects for the organization.
Micek joined the foundation, the private fundraising arm of the university, in 2000.
His announcement comes at a time when the foundation is wrapping up the university's largest ever fundraising campaign. Brilliant Futures hit its goal of $2.25 billion several months ahead of its target date.
Micek made the announcement Monday at a special breakfast for staff in which he thanked them for their work on the campaign. He characterized the move as not a retirement but "a stepping down."
As a part-time employee, Micek, 69, will still be involved in certain projects, such as a "talent management program" focused on finding, hiring, developing and keeping good staff. But with the transition he also plans to have more time to spend with grandchildren.
A national search for his replacement will be launched and a new president is expected to be announced before Micek steps down at the end of 2012.
"In this business you've got to build relationships. It's critical for the foundation board that they start searching for a successor now. ... We say we're always in a campaign, but we won't really go to a big announcement for the next campaign for several years," Micek said.
That will give the next UI Foundation chief time to build critical relationships.
Micek became president and CEO of the UI Foundation in 2000. He arrived from Syracuse University, where he worked in development.
At the time he joined the UI Foundation, the university was wrapping up Campaign Illinois, a $1 billion fundraising effort.
Over the years, Micek is credited with building a business intelligence unit that generates and analyzes fundraising data, in-house training and education programs, a Principal Gifts program and a program focused on the university's hospitals, clinics and medical college.
The Brilliant Futures campaign launched in June 2007 at Navy Pier in Chicago. On that opening night, the UI announced its largest single donation ever — $100 million from Tom and Stacey Siebel. So far $2.327 billion has been raised. Of that, $341 million has been donated for scholarships, fellowships and student support.
"Sid's extraordinary leadership will yield dividends for generations to come, through the life-changing programs supported by our historic Brilliant Futures Campaign," said UI President Michael Hogan in a written statement. "His passion and tireless work — coupled with the generosity of nearly 250,000 donors — have made the U of I a model for the private giving that is now so critical to advance our rich legacy as a world leader in education and innovation," Hogan said.
Micek counts the $100 million as a highlight of his tenure, as well as working with other donors on smaller gifts and getting to know UI Foundation members and board members.
"There's also nothing like seeing the look on a dean's face when we've closed a major gift that will have transformational effect on the college for students and faculty," Micek said.
Micek also is currently in charge of the Access Illinois Presidential Scholarship Initiative, a three-year effort to raise at least $100 million for scholarships, fellowship and other financial support for students. He's hoping to surpass that goal as well.
Micek has a bachelor's degree in history and master's degree in educational administration from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Washington.
He was a faculty member and administrator at Syracuse University. He was also senior re- search associate and evaluation officer at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in Boulder, Colo.