CSUB's Mike Chertok retiring

February 27, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

W. Michael Chertok, the founding vice president for advancement at California State University, Bakersfield, today announced his retirement, effective Sept. 1.

He will be leaving the university after 14 years, and after 42 years in university advancement at seven universities around the United States.

"The timing is right, both for the university and for me," Chertok said. "We've just completed some important fundraising efforts, and we have more on the horizon. It's best not to change coaches in the middle of a game, so to speak, and this window, before our next campaign gets under way, provides me the opportunity to retire.

"This summer I'll be 69, and I've been at it 42 years, so the timing is right. President (Horace) Mitchell has brought new vision to the university and made much progress, and he will have been here three years this summer. I have enjoyed working with him very much, and know that I will be leaving with the university in very capable hands. University Advancement has a complete and capable staff that can make a transition very easy."

Mitchell accepted Chertok's retirement reluctantly. "I understand Mike's desire to retire after more than 40 years of service in higher education," he said. "Over the past 13 years he has built our University Advancement division from the ground up to being one of the most productive within the CSU. I'm glad I've had the benefit of his wise counsel over the past two-and-a-half years. He has been invaluable in assisting me in becoming acquainted with the community and with community and corporate leaders since my arrival as president of CSUB in July 2004.

"Mike had talked to me about retiring at the end of 2005-06, but I encouraged him to stay on for at least one more year. Recently I asked him if he was certain he wanted to retire at the end of this year, and he said 'Yes.'

"Mike has done an exceptional job in advancing CSUB," Mitchell continued. "Under his leadership, our endowment fund has more than doubled from $7.29 million to more than $15 million within the last 19 months. We surpassed the $6 million fundraising goal for our athletics Division I campaign in only 16 months. He was instrumental in securing the recent Chevron gift of $1 million for our math and science initiative. These are just recent examples.

"Mike's commitment to advancement is more than just raising dollars. He is concerned about the educational experience of our students and the growth and development of our faculty and staff, and how gifts are used in the pursuit of excellence. In addition, he has been very effective in community engagement, legislative relations, and providing support for the CSUB Foundation.

"I congratulate him on his outstanding career, and I know he will enjoy his retirement. Mike will assist me, along with a search committee, in the national recruitment for his successor. Our plan is to conclude that search before Mike leaves in August."

When Chertok arrived at CSUB in August 1993 as director of development and public affairs he found that he was essentially the entire department rolled into one.

The small staff consisted of a graphic artist, a public information officer, an alumni relations director and a receptionist. There was little or no infrastructure and few if any programs of cultivation and solicitation. At that time the campus was completing a capital campaign to enhance the construction and equipment of the Walter Stiern Library. That project undertaken by the CSUB Foundation and a contract employee managed to raise $1.3 million.

There was no annual fund, and no year-end solicitation. Other than the Athletic Department booster club, the two major fundraising activities were the John Brock Dinner in September, which was raises money for the School of Business and Public Administration, and the President's Associates Dinner in the spring, which raises money for the president's discretionary fund.

It was during that time, following a severe economic crisis in the state, that the CSU Board of Trustees embraced advancement as a concept and made it a matter of policy for the 23 campuses in the system. As a result, not long after Chertok's arrival at CSUB he became vice president for university advancement, which is the combination and interaction of development (fundraising), public affairs and alumni relations. He began organizing and assembling a staff.

Today, CSUB's University Advancement division has a four-person development staff, an alumni relations director, a two-person public affairs staff, a three-person support staff, not to mention the resized CSUB Foundation staff. The division has gone from a near invisible operation to one with organized development activities and professionals who have raised millions for the university, an alumni relations operation that engages the far-flung university alumni, and a two-person public relations and marketing program that provides news and information about the university.

In the past two years alone the division has dramatically increased the level of fundraising at the university, going from $5.8 million raised in 2004-05, to $7 million in 2005-06, to $6.7 million in the first six months of 2006-07.

A native of South Carolina, Chertok received a bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina in 1960. He went on to earn both a bachelor's and master's in divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., completed his classroom requirements for a master's degree in public relations and communications from Boston University.

He began his career at Furman University in 1965 before moving to his alma mater, the University of South Carolina, in 1969 as director of development. In 1971 he went to Stetson University in Deland, Fla., as vice president for development. He left Stetson in 1978 for the University of Louisville. In 1981 he joined the development staff at the University of Houston, where he remained until 1989 when he moved to Xavier University in Cincinnati. He served briefly as director of fund development for Jewish Family Service in Cincinnati before coming to CSUB.

His community service has been varied. He serves on the boards of directors of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and the Center for Living and Learning at CSUB. He served previously on the boards of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield and the American Heart Association. He is also involved with the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, where he is a member of the Governmental Relations Council and the Leadership Bakersfield Advisory Council, which he previously chaired; and the Vision 20/20 education task force.

He and his wife, Dona (cq), plan to remain in Bakersfield following his retirement.