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Press Release for Wednesday, October 15, 2014

UNF Announces New Assistant VP for Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

After a national search, the University of North Florida has hired Christopher Decent as the new assistant vice president for Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving. He began his new position October 13.

“Chris brings a myriad of skills to the position we were seeking to fill. His experience and understanding of volunteer engagement, programming and fundraising make him extremely suited to lead our alumni engagement and annual giving programs,” said Dr. Joshua Merchant, vice president for Development and Alumni Affairs at UNF.

Decent, a Ponte Vedra Beach resident, will oversee the UNF Fund, the University’s special and annual giving programs, annual leadership giving/alumni engagement programs and will be responsible for the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan for the growth of annual giving support, in a collaborative fundraising environment, through work with alumni, current donors, leadership level donors, prospective donors, foundation board members and University trustees.

Additionally, he will be responsible for overseeing alumni engagement activities and linking annual giving strategies with alumni engagement programming to increase overall giving and donor participation.

“I am very excited about Chris joining the UNF family. I think he will bring an enthusiasm and energy to the area of alumni engagement,” said Debbie Johnson, UNF interim Alumni Services director. “As a graduate of UNF and a longtime member of the Alumni Association’s board of directors, I look forward to experiencing the new and engaging ideas he will bring that will reconnect our alums to this wonderful University.”

Decent comes to UNF with 11 years of engagement and fundraising experience. Before coming to the University, Decent served as associate director of Leadership Gifts at The First Tee, where he created the annual fund program, Core Values Fund, which generates more than $150,000 annually; created The First Tee Legacy Society, a planned giving society that is co-chaired by World Golf Hall of Fame members Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus; and developed the “Beyond the Fairway,” an annual giving program that local chapters can implement and will generate more than $1 million dollars in gifts and future commitments for The First Tee chapter network.

Prior to his role at The First Tee, he served as unit executive director (First Coast Beaches) for the American Cancer Society, director of development for the Children’s Home Society and vice president/director of development for the United Cerebral Palsy of the Mid-South. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Memphis.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.


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