The University of Nevada, Reno has hired Robin Schimandle as the new director of development for the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources to support the College’s various programs that promote student learning, scientific research, and community engagement and programs throughout the state.
Schimandle brings extensive experience and a proven track record in philanthropy, donor stewardship and engagement, having successfully led fundraising campaigns and donor engagement initiatives in previous roles. In her new position, she will collaborate with alumni, businesses, foundations and other key stakeholders to cultivate partnerships and secure financial resources for the College. These funds will support various initiatives, including student scholarships, internships, academic research and community engagement, as part of a diverse range of activities across the College’s units, including its four academic departments, Extension, the Experiment Station and Extended Studies.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the continued success of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources and its various programs," Schimandle said. "I'm pleased to be part of a team dedicated to raising financial resources to sustain the large volume of research and programs at the College that directly impact the lives of Nevadans. The tangible benefits of the work at the College are evident throughout the state, and it is incredibly exciting to be able to further this work through philanthropy."
Schimandle's foray into fundraising began as a volunteer at Sage Ridge School in Reno, where her children were enrolled. Despite having minimal prior experience and lacking access to sophisticated fundraising resources, she managed to raise over $100,000 within one year to enable 20 theatre students and a cast team of five to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, where their theatre program had been nominated to perform in the internationally renowned Fringe Festival.
“I read everything I could get my hands on about fundraising and then put together a plan that included private donors, grants and events, and over the next year, with the help of a fantastic team of volunteers, we were able to reach our financial goal,” she said. “This firsthand experience underscored for me the profound impact of philanthropy and its transformative effect on the lives it touches. It was so inspiring to see the impact it had on those youth.”
It was upon the students’ return to the country that the school's headmaster requested Schimandle to establish a development office for the school. She accepted the challenge, and over the subsequent years she raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that went toward scholarships and funding of a variety of academic programs.
In 2017, Schimandle accepted the position of associate director of development for University Libraries, and later was promoted to the director of development. Over the course of her six-year tenure, she participated in various projects, one of which involved fundraising for honoraria to support Native American basket weavers. This initiative was part of a documentary focused on preserving the artistry and craft of Native American basket weaving. Additionally, she played a crucial role in bringing the Jean and Phillip Earl arborglyphs collection to the library. This collection features wax rubbings featuring sketches and messages that were carved into aspen trees during the late 1800s by Basque sheepherders across remote aspen groves in the American West, specifically in Nevada, California, Wyoming and Idaho.
Schimandle also played a role in establishing connections that resulted in a generous contribution used to establish a dedicated Special Collections instructional space, nicknamed The Vault. This space will enable faculty members to collaborate with the library’s outreach archivist, and incorporate the collections into their courses, allowing students to directly learn from primary resources. As one of just a handful of similar spaces across the nation, The Vault enables faculty to immerse students in a unique experiential learning opportunity.
"We are confident that Robin’s leadership will propel our fundraising efforts to new heights," said Bill Payne, Dean of the College. "Her proven track record and strategic vision will be invaluable assets as we work to support the vital programs and initiatives within the College."
Schimandle earned her bachelor's degree in marketing from the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway. In addition to her experience in philanthropy, she also brings extensive expertise in marketing, advertising, communications and event planning from her tenure in various corporate and nonprofit organizations.