Jim Caskey, vice president for institutional development, will be leaving the college to pursue a career in the Goshen Health leadership team.Caskey was hired in 1997 as regional director of development. He was in charge of working to build relationships with people in eastern states like Ohio, Virginia and New York. He became vice president for institutional development in 2010 and has worked at the college for almost 21 years.
Caskey’s current role as vice president for institutional advancement allowed him to oversee the development office, alumni, church and parent relations along with other groups. He also served on the President’s Council.
“The unique thing about the work that I’ve done is developing relationships with those people all over the country, and in some cases, the world,” said Caskey. “People who care so deeply about Goshen College, almost no matter what’s going on here on the campus, but who think and care for and love the place and provide financial support.”
Caskey has many stories from working to build relationships, but his favorite story is about a widower whose wife was an alum of GC.
“He was a Jewish gentleman and she was in the publishing business. He set up a scholarship for women in publishing,” said Caskey.
“It’s one of my favorite stories because here was this grieving husband who wanted to do something to memorialize [his wife]. They had this thatch-roof cottage in England, and he couldn’t imagine going back without her, so he gave us the cottage,” said Caskey.
Goshen College sold the cottage for $600,000. That money became the Sara Ann Freed Scholarship.
Caskey also worked a bit with enrollment levels at GC. Recently, the enrollment rates have been on an upward trajectory.
“I do believe that part of that is a transformation that we’ve gone through from being seen as a school for Mennonites to becoming more of a school with Mennonite heritage and connections for the world, for everyone,” said Caskey. “And it happens to be on a parallel track with the denomination, Mennonite Church USA, that is going through a similar kind of transformation to go from the denomination that is so tied into heritage to a message that is there for everyone.”
Caskey also serves on the Mennonite Church USA executive board, so he has been able to watch these parallel transformations as they happen. He also notes that while some might think that the college and church are moving farther apart, he sees them as being intertwined.
“A denomination without its educational institutions is a denomination adrift,” said Caskey.
So what does the upward enrollment mean for the college?
“It means financial stability, because regardless of the fundraising we’ve done through the years, it pales in comparison to enrollment. Enrollment is the driving economic engine for a college,” said Caskey.
To him, funding and enrollment are tied together.
“If enrollment is down then we are not as attractive to funders,” said Caskey. “Funders aren’t looking to fix your problems. Success attracts resources.”
Caskey’s new position is part of a small foundation, the Goshen Health Foundation, that works with fundraising. He will be joining the leadership team there, adding to his professional portfolio.
This new position will allow Caskey to lead fundraising and development of the foundation, while also working as an ambassador for Goshen Health’s mission. Caskey will be replacing Mark Lindemood, who worked in the leadership role for the past seven years.
“Perhaps most importantly, they are beginning a campaign and the project has been identified. They’ve done some feasibility study, to see if there are folks interested in supporting that project, and it’s ready to go. That’s one of the things that really attracted me to it.”
Caskey is excited to be working with the project
“It’s going to be a legacy building project and I’m really delighted to be a part of it,” said Caskey.
Caskey’s last day at GC will be March 31. He will begin working at the Goshen Health Foundation on April 30.