Rodney O. Parks, senior director of major and planned gifts at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Foundation, received the Crystal Apple Award by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in San Francisco on Monday.
The award recognizes Parks’ exemplary record as a speaker and teacher at 10 or more CASE conferences. The award is based on outstanding evaluations submitted by those attending the teaching sessions.
Parks spoke about planned giving, major gifts, annual giving, communications and advancement team development.
“I have learned more by standing up than I did by sitting down,” Parks said about his teaching experience at CASE conferences.
Parks, a 1991 graduate of Arkansas Tech University, had a successful, 20-year career in banking before joining Little Rock’s Philander Smith College in 2008 as director of development. He joined the UAFS Foundation staff in 2015.
Parks is just the second Arkansan to win the prestigious CASE teaching award and one of very few African Americans to win the award.
Fundraising in higher education is a second career for Parks, and he noted supporters who encouraged him including Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard College; Dr. Shannon Fleming, former vice president of advancement at Philander Smith; and Bob Denman former vice chancellor of development at the University of Arkansas – Little Rock.
Parks said he was “joyous” when he learned he won the award. “All I thought about was the attendees who told me my session truly helped them be better fundraisers and relationship managers,” he said.
The self-confidence in his leadership skills that came from knowing he’s earned the award has benefitted his work at UAFS.