Foundation board changes leadership

Rob E. Manning
Rob E. Manning

Robin (Rob) E. Manning, who holds a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from NC State and a master’s in business administration from Queens College in Charlotte, took over as president of the NC State Engineering Foundation, Inc.’s board of directors in January. He replaces Thomas R. McPherson Jr., who has two degrees in electrical engineering from NC State and is a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus.

Thomas R. McPherson Jr.
Thomas R. McPherson Jr.

McPherson, who remains on the board, completed his two-year term as president in fall 2014. He is most proud of two accomplishments: the board’s focus on stewardship and the development and implementation of the Foundation’s strategic planning process. In addition, the value of the endowment assets that benefit the College crossed the $100 million threshold.

As incoming president, Manning chaired the strategic planning committee. The strategic plan identified key initiatives:

– Major gift fundraising strategies, benchmarking and staffing

– Business of the Foundation: funding operations and stewardship

– Broadening the base: engagement, participation and the annual fund

– Tools-technology-data science

– Staying the course

Those key initiatives were assigned to committees.

“I think Rob did an outstanding job leading the strategic plan process,” McPherson said. “I think the whole board was engaged and very impressed with the work.”

As president, Manning has three main objectives, which are part of the strategic plan.

One is making sure people understand the importance of what the Foundation does through better communication. Many do not know that the Foundation secures private financial contributions to improve the College and that those contributions support scholarships, fellowships, professorships, academic programs, faculty research and other important initiatives that enable the College to recruit top students and faculty.

His first objective dovetails with his second objective of reaching more faculty members, students and alumni.

“People need to know that they have a way of staying engaged with NC State that goes beyond graduation, even beyond their careers, but we have got to do more to get that word out,” Manning said.

His third objective is to support College priorities such as rankings and completing the College’s move to Centennial Campus.

Both Manning and McPherson credit their education at NC State for their successful careers. Manning is vice president of transmission for EPRI’s Power Delivery and Utilization research sector. Prior to that, he served as executive vice president and chief external relations officer for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and before joining TVA, he enjoyed a long career at Duke Energy. McPherson led the founding and building of several successful high-tech companies, including Network Equipment Technologies, Rapid City Communications and Cognio, Inc. He now serves on several non-profit boards, including the advisory board for NC State’s Engineering Entrepreneurs Program.

Both men have been generous donors and have established endowments in the College, and both have enjoyed their time on the Foundation board and are pleased to advocate for and support the College.

Referring to board meetings, Manning said, “Under Tom’s leadership, we expanded them to include a presentation from a professor or a department head, sometimes even from students. And each of those board members connected. It kind of stirs those passions you remember from your college days. It gets people excited about what NC State is still doing. It reminds you that it is important to support those folks who are experiencing what some of us experienced many, many years ago.”


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