April 25, 2018
CLEVELAND - #NAADD25th: In honor of NAADD’s 25 years of commitment to the development of collegiate athletics, NAADD will be featuring the full testimonials of Past Presidents throughout 2018.
Here is the full testimonial from April’s Past President feature NAADD President, Lu Merritt (2003-04).
Merritt was a two-time letter winner for the Hokies tennis team and was named captain in 1967. After graduating with a degree in business administration, Merritt went on to serve in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. Upon returning for South East Asia, Merritt began a successful 23-year in banking.
Merritt returned to his alma mater in 1994 as the director of development for intercollegiate athletics, which was the title he held as NAADD’s 12th President. In his leadership role with the Hokie Club, as the senior director of development for intercollegiate athletics. Merritt aided in fundraising efforts for several capital projects, including the South End Zone Expansion and West Side Expansion of Lane Stadium, the Hahn Hurst Basketball Practice Center, the football locker room facility. He also played an integral part in Athletics’ role in the Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future.
Over the course of Merritt’s career at Virginia Tech, the scope of athletics fundraising at the university grew by more than 600 percent (600%), with contributions to the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund averaging just over $3.3 million between fiscal years 1990 and 1994. By comparison, The Hokies averaged nearly $23.7 million in contributions between fiscal years 2010 and 2014.
In 2015, Merritt received NAADD’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his 20+ years overseeing the substantial growth in both number of donors and dollars raised at Virginia Tech. That same year, Merritt retired from his post at Virginia Tech after 21-years of service to his alma mater. During his NAADD Presidency, Merritt used is extensive knowledge of athletics development and the finance sector to implement initiatives that were crucial to the continued growth and success of “the leading athletics educational organization on the planet.”
Here is what Lu had to say about NAADD:
1) Why should someone become a member?
Every person who is in the fundraising business at their school should join NAADD for several reasons: (1) the opportunity to learn from others in the industry across the country. The annual conference presents a wonderful opportunity to not only meet people doing the same things as you, but to develop friendships and relationships that can advance your professional and personal careers. NAADD brings together the very best people and information on Athletic fundraising in the country. I have countless memories and friends from my days in NAADD and would not trade them for anything.
2) What has NAADD meant to you?
My experience was awesome in that I meant real fundraising pros who taught me the key points - capital campaigns, the annual fund process and the importance of growing your endowment. NAADD brings everyone together annually to learn from each other. If you are smart you will participate in as many sessions as you can and make as many friends as possible as they will become resources for you to draw upon. The enthusiasm flowing at the convention is infectious and it carries over into the sessions and later after the convention is over.
3) What impact did your time as NAADD President have on you as a professional?
My time as President was humbling at first because my colleagues had stated their trust in me to lead the organization. It motivated me to want to do the very best that I and our Executive Committee could do to structure and present a meaningful and enjoyable convention. I understood that it was important that we advanced the mission of NAADD and grew as fundraisers during the process. Looking back to those days and what we did and where the organization is now is very impressive. NAADD has come a long way and I was pleased to play a small part in its growth.
4) What is your fondest memory serving as NAADD President?
My fondest memory during my term occurred when the Executive committee traveled to Blacksburg to plan the program for the upcoming convention. While we were excited to "show off" our beautiful campus and new facilities, it was our people who stole the show. Our AD, the late Jim Weaver was involved and hosted a dinner/ reception. Head football coach Frank Beamer invited the group to come out to practice where he personally shook everyone's hand and asked about a coach or administrator at their school. Not only were they blown away by his relationships but with his genuine and personal interest. Many others from the Athletics department went out of their way to make our committee members feel at home. Unfortunately for me I became ill just before leaving for the convention and had to remain at home in bed. Bummer!
5) How do you see NAADD progressing in the next five years?
NAADD will continue to grow and be the leading athletic educational organization on the planet. It seems to me that every year the committee gets stronger and more committed to excellence in not only programming but finding new ways to give back and expand the realm of its outreach. I believe that those individuals involved want to be successful and want to lead the organization to be the very best it can be. It is very impressive to stand and look at NAADD's progress from afar. Join if you are not a member. Your career will benefit from your participation!
Be sure to check back next week, when NAADD will spotlight Bob Madden, major gifts officer at the College of Idaho, who served as NAADD President in 2005-06.
Stay up-to-date on the 25th Anniversary celebration and all things NAADD related by following NAADD on Twitter by using the hashtag #NAADD25th and #PastPresidentTestimonials.
About NAADD: NAADD is the first organization of its kind to provide educational and networking opportunities, enhancement of acceptable operating standards and ethics, and establishment of the overall prestige and understanding of the profession of athletics development and fund raising. For more information about NAADD, please visit www.naadd.com. NAADD is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 53rd year. For more information on NACDA and the 17 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.