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Podcast: Annual Giving With Adam Compton ’09

NC State Philanthropy Podcast lock-up

On this episode of the NC State Philanthropy Podcast, we’re joined by Adam Compton to talk about how Annual Giving helps the university create dynamic new approaches to teaching and learning, fuel industries and breakthroughs, guide our students to impactful post-graduate lives and more. As the executive director of Annual Giving, as well as a longtime employee of the university and an alumnus who graduated in 2009, Compton is uniquely qualified to discuss the impact of this office on NC State’s past, present and future.

Listen to “Annual Giving With Adam Compton“ here via Spotify, or visit the Apple podcast store, the Google podcast store, Stitcher or Podbean.

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Taylor Pardue:

Welcome to the NC State Philanthropy Podcast, telling the world how we Think and Do through the support of our friends, alumni and more. I’m your host, Taylor Pardue. On this episode, we’re joined by Adam Compton, NC state’s executive director of Annual Giving, to learn about the important role this area of private support plays in the university’s extraordinary mission.

Taylor Pardue:

Thanks so much for joining us today, Adam. Tell us a little bit about, just to kick things off, you are an alum here at NC state. Tell us about your life leading up to coming here, what you majored in and everything, and then now, as an alum, coming back as an employee.

Adam Compton:

Yeah, absolutely. So, thank you for having me. You know, I grew up pulling for and going to every single home football and basketball game for UNC-Chapel Hill. I thought I was going to go to Chapel Hill, but they didn’t have an engineering program. Multiple generations before me all went to Chapel Hill. My brother was there, but I wanted to be an engineer. And part of that is, I grew up in rural North Carolina; grew up on a family farm that we had been farming since the 1800s; was highly involved in FFA, which is the Future Farmers of America; and that gave me exposure to NC State. It gave me exposure through the Extension program and our outreach of all the things that we were doing. And so, I was always kind of interested in NC State and wanted to be an engineer.

Adam Compton:

So, I came to NC State as an engineer and did a couple years in engineering and found out the hard way that engineering may not be the best thing for me. There’s a class called Statics, and my advisor said, “Oh, well, everybody fails at least one time.” You know, it’s one of those classes, and I failed it the first time and went through it again. And I think it was a C-wall class, and I got a D plus and, you know, my advisor was like, “Well, you know, after Statics comes Dynamics, and Dynamics is just Statics but in motion.” And that really got me thinking, OK, where do I ultimately want to end up? And I decided, from my agriculture background, that I wanted to move into ag business.

Adam Compton:

And so, I kind of sat in this really interesting degree where it was agriculture business, and all my classes were basically at the Poole College of Management. And then I got a minor in political science. I thought what I was going to do at that point was agriculture policy work and move to D.C. I decided, ultimately, you know what? I don’t want to move to D.C. My brother’s in D.C. I don’t want to follow in his footsteps and, you know, ended up just kind of looking for a job. I was one of those over-involved students here at NC State and, frankly, stumbled into a job in development. You know, I think, somewhat, that is the story of those of us that often work in development is, we just kind of start looking around and OK. You know, for me, it’s been really a rewarding experience to work in development and see the progress the university’s made in the last 10 years.

Adam Compton:

I started as a full-time employee Nov. 15, 2010. So, I pretty much graduated, I did some political work in between and then went straight into working for the university. I did frontline fundraising for a little while, held a special projects role where I worked on a variety of things and then ended up in Annual Giving, which is where I’ve found my passion and really found an opportunity to do what I feel like is giving back. Being here at NC State, it changed my worldview in a lot of ways. It gave me so much insight into kind of how I think about things and, um, really kind of fundamentally altered and changed who I am as a person. And so, having the opportunity to give back through working for the university and helping to raise funds and tell the story events, it’s just, you know, it’s a rewarding experience, but also just a really kind of unique one, I think, and something that, you know, “Hey, I can make a career out of this.” You know, I never thought I would be here as a full-time employee for 12 years now — something like that, 12 years. It’s been a great opportunity, and it’s really fun working in advancement and in Annual Giving because there’s so much constantly changing.

Taylor Pardue:

And in those 12 years, I mean, you’ve seen so much come and go like the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign, and just life in general has changed so much here at NC State with Centennial Campus, the boom that’s going on there, Hunt Library — all the different things that have taken place. Tell us a little bit about, if someone doesn’t know what Annual Giving is, what is sort of that 30,000-foot view of what all’s involved, how people can get involved with that as well.

Adam Compton:

Yeah. So, campus has changed so much in the last 10 years. You look back to the arrival of Chancellor Woodson and the vision that he set for this university. He built a strategic plan. It was a strategic plan that you can really point to and look at and say, “OK, this is where we’re going.” You know, love or hate the U.S. News and World Report rankings, you don’t move up as many slots as we did if you’re not doing something right. You know, I think, and some folks may disagree, ultimately, we used to be an easier campus to get into, but a harder one to get out of. I think we’ve really kind of changed some of that momentum in that we are, frankly, hard to get into and much more built around student success and built around …

Adam Compton:

… “How do we make sure our students are successful in what they’re doing?” But then you also have got, you know, the land-grant mission; you’ve got a tier-one, high-intensive, whatever Carnegie classification they’re calling it these days, research university. And part of the reason why, and I’ll tie this all back to Annual Giving in a second, why I also work for the university are the causes and things that I ultimately believe in that I believe will start in the academy, the solutions. So, you think about things like global climate change, obesity; you think about all of those things, they’re going to, the solutions are going to start in the academy. The students that are coming through here are going to be the ones that solve cancer; are going to be the ones who fix the geopolitical issues that we’re having. And I think NC State is, in a lot of ways, on the forefront of how we’re thinking about things like that; that Think and Do really is applying in everything that we do.

Adam Compton:

And then our students are not only going to leave here and go out and think about things, but they’re going to go out and solve those problems. So, just like our professors are doing groundbreaking research and coming together in these cluster hires, you think about, I think, food insecurity is one of those and global hunger. You think about it. We produce enough food every single day to feed the world, but it’s geopolitical issues. It’s supply-chain issues. It’s shelf life of things. It’s all these things that come together. So, you bring professors together from all of our different disciplines, and that’s ultimately what can solve or start the pathway to solving hunger. And we bring our students together through this in interdisciplinary ways and, I think, to me, that is part of the reason that philanthropy is so important. One of the things that I’ve heard Chancellor Woodson say is we can be a good university on state funding, but it takes philanthropy to make us great.

Adam Compton:

And where that really starts to shine, I think, is in Annual Giving. And what I mean by that is there are things that we want our students to do, or we want professors to do that we need current cash for, to do now. So, a student walks into a dean’s office and says, “I’ve gotten the opportunity to interview for the Goldwater Scholarship, but I have to fly across the country to interview. I can’t afford that flight.” The dean can say, “Well, I’ve got Dean’s Enhancement Fund money that is unrestricted that I can help you do that.” We know that when a student takes part in any of our high-impact learning experiences — so, that’s undergraduate research; it’s a Living and Learning Village; it’s study abroad; it’s all of these things — when a student does one of those, every measure of success goes up.

Adam Compton:

We see it. We see their academics improve. We see their retention rate improve. All these different measures, but it’s oftentimes the difference between philanthropy in a student being able to do those things. So, it’s a similar story. It’s, you know, I want to study abroad; sometimes a thousand-dollar study-abroad scholarship can mean the difference between a student studying abroad or not. You look at it from the lens of recruiting the best and the brightest students: If we have funds that help to support those, when we elevate the conversation in the classroom, it helps everybody. And so, by having the best and the brightest students here on campus, when you think about it, you know, we’re losing students right now to other institutions from the lens of, “They’re offering me more money.” But NC State may be the institution that they’re ultimately better suited to go to; they want to do some of the STEM-focused or some of our specific programs, but they’re going to UNC-Chapel Hill, they’re going to another institution because they’re able to provide more funds and it’s a need-based opportunity.

Adam Compton:

By meeting those needs, we can ensure that we have the best students here. We ensure that they have the greatest experience. And, often, what I argue about with Annual Giving is we’re providing the dollars that do that today. You think about, you know, we’re in a highly intensive, endowment-focused fundraising operation, and we have to be because that’s the long-term stability of these programs. And so, you know, when Chancellor Woodson arrived, our endowment was roughly $450 million. Fast forward to today, it’s over a billion dollars. And so, it’s working; we’re raising money. We’re able to permanently, in perpetuity support these things, but we’re always going to have greater need. We’re always going to have current need for things. When you think about an endowment, you know, somebody donates $50,000 to the university, every single year, that’s going to spin off, you know, a couple thousand dollars to support that scholarship.

Adam Compton:

There’s still going to be current use needs. There’s going to be priorities that come up. And that’s where Annual Giving is filling that gap and supporting, you know, what those current-use needs are of the chancellor, of the deans, of others in leadership so that they can meet our needs today in coordination with that endowment money that they know that they have guaranteed. And so, that’s why I think it’s so important, the work that we’re doing, because it is elevating our campus. You see the power of philanthropy, you know. One of the things that I’ve been fortunate and able to see over the last 10 years is how philanthropy has just fundamentally changed this campus. It started with leadership, but philanthropy is definitely driving so much of our ability. You look at, you know, the vet school, an incredible vet school, one of the top, you know, five.

Adam Compton:

And I think it shifted around a little bit, but last time I looked at it, every university above us was like a hundred years older in doing their vet school program. But you look at what Randall Terry and others have done for the philanthropy at that school. It’s just changed their trajectory and ability and, yes, great leadership. All these things kind of come together, but philanthropy definitely helped that. And so, I, and you, weave that throughout every part of campus. And that’s why I tie it back to giving back to a certain extent; I can help to see other people; I can help to influence or be part of something that really change my trajectory.

Taylor Pardue:

So, tell us a little bit about how someone can come involved with Annual Giving. It seems like a great open door for someone who may have never given to the university before to start out with a small gift and work their way up and really impact, like you said, areas all across campus, people all across campus. But tell us a little bit about how you get started with Annual Giving.

Adam Compton:

You know, Annual Giving is really about starting to identify your passion and what do you ultimately care about and making an impact in that area, and it’s the collective power. So, you think about, you know, for me, you know, graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, had a minor in political science, was overly involved as a student. What I think about when I’m giving back is what are the programs that had an impact on me and changed my career. And that’s why, you know, I support things like the Libraries. I support things like the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I support different areas. Ultimately, I’m not a major gift donor, but I’m giving to areas that had an impact on me, and I’m able to come together with other donors and have that larger impact. We, you know, have been fortunate enough to visit the vet school and have just amazing experiences.

Adam Compton:

And so, we give back to the vet school, and it’s when those donors really come together, it’s that, you know, everybody giving $10, $100, $1,000 that adds up to have that collective power that meets some of those needs that we’re talking about. And so, I think, you know, when I talk to donors in particular, you know, sometimes you’ll hear, “I’m not Lonnie Poole; I’m not Fred Wilson.” You know, some of these names that have made transformational impacts on our campus. “Why does my $10, $50, $100, $1,000,” whatever it may be, “make an impact?” It’s the combined power of that. You know, sometimes you have those conversations with donors and you say, “Well, you’ve made a gift for 50 years to the university, add that up.”

Adam Compton:

And it’s like, that’s a major gift. And that’s had an incredible impact on our campus. It’s also about educating people about this impact that philanthropy has had and helping to understand the power of philanthropy and what it’s doing on our campus. And so, folks that want to get involved, you know, I encourage them to make that test gift; you know, give to an area, start to learn about the impact of you’re giving and start to identify your passion and pick that area and then learn more and you’ll start to receive more information and get more involved. And it’s just a great, like, entry way into the university to raise your hand and say, “Hey, NC State did this incredible thing for me. I want to pay it forward. I want to get deeper involved with the university.”

Taylor Pardue:

What’s that process look like if someone is exploring the idea of giving? Who do they talk to? How do they get started with that?

Adam Compton:

Our office is always willing to help donors identify where they want to give. We are always running cause-based campaigns and trying to highlight some of these things like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We’re going to do, in this next fiscal year, highlighting more research and some of these different areas. And so, looking at some of the stuff — frankly, email, text messages, direct mail. We’re pushing out a lot of messages, but also, you know, going to give.ncsu.edu, exploring that website that has all those information on it. Each college has, you know, there’s tons of resources for a donor to find; our potential donor to find out about, you know, where to support the university and start to identify their passion.

Adam Compton:

But there’s also my team and other teams across campus; they’re always happy to have that conversation. When I started to make a gift, I called up one of the development offices and was like, “I want to support, but where should I give?” And, you know, they were great to hop on the phone and just quickly talk through and kind of help guide me in a way that was like, “These are your passions; here are some funds that might align with that.” Because we have, what, 7,000 funds that somebody could support at NC State, and that all but guarantees there’s something that aligns with your passion or something that influenced you as an alum or a student or your child, or frankly, the community around us.

Taylor Pardue:

I interviewed Vice Chancellor Sischo on our last episode, and he compared it to the Cheesecake Factory: the menu of just, it’s page after page. And it really is; there’s a way to connect anywhere you want to on campus. And absolutely, if there’s not, I mean, we’re always happy to work with someone to start a new fund, something like that. But, so, Annual Giving — obviously, it’s right there in the name — annual giving every year, even if it’s just a little bit. Tell us a little bit about Day of Giving that has become an annual tradition. Now, we’re just coming off another record-breaking event this fall, or this spring. Tell us a little bit about that and how that plays into Annual Giving’s overall impact.

Adam Compton:

Yeah. So, Day of Giving has become one of those times when campus rallies together to talk about philanthropy and the power of philanthropy. And you look at, you know, every social media channel, every piece of marketing communications, our staff — everybody’s coming together to really talk about philanthropy, and it’s become this signature mark of what philanthropy means for NC State. But it’s also become a really great way for donors to raise their hand for a specific area. So, we highlight 300 or 400 of the 7,000 funds on Day of Giving, and it’s a great way for the donors to kind of find, you know, because a lot of times when we’re communicating to people, we’re saying, “Hey, Adam. You graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. We’re making an assumption that you probably want to support the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.”

Adam Compton:

Because we sometimes — it’s how do we get the right thing in front of you, or what’s the thing you’re most passionate about, and Day of Giving really gives donors that opportunity. But then you also have these fun gamification elements that really drive, you know, that we see so many people get excited about, and they want to see their college at the top of the leaderboard; they want to see the program that they were involved with win an extra share of challenge funds, and it’s that competition element that people really respond to, and it’s insane or, you know, amazing or whatever word you want to use to see donors making a hundred gifts on the day. But just as exciting, to me, is, if not more exciting, is that donor that makes their first gift and uses Day of Giving as that entry into philanthropy and says, “Hey, this is something I’m passionate about. This is something I care about. I want to see them succeed through Day of Giving.” And it’s become a great tool and opportunity for people to say, “Hey, this is what I want to support.” It helps us. And you know, it’s, you look at, you know, this is way in the weeds, but you look at the points of the year when we raise the most Annual Giving dollars, and it’s now become December when everybody is thinking about making a gift; there’s that natural kind of tax deadline that a lot of people are giving about, you know? And, but it’s also the season of the, when people are really thinking about, Oh, I want to be charitable. I want to support different causes.

Adam Compton:

Everybody’s asking. So, that’s always been a natural point for us. Day of Giving and March now have become rivals to December, when it used to be like, you know, you have December, and then it’s just kind of, the rest of the year is tough. And so, it’s created this natural peak, and what we see is also, which is, I think will help us more in the long term, as you think about fundraising, is donors identifying more areas that they want to support and really leaning more into that passion side of their philanthropy.

Taylor Pardue:

I think what’s great about having you on to talk about this subject is not just because you’re the executive director of this, but also your longevity. Like you said, you’ve been here for 12 years — an incredible 12 years. I mean, you’ve seen incredible things happen, from the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign and during COVID as well. You know, you’ve really seen the importance of continuous giving and the impact of our One Pack mentality, really rallying around everybody. Talk a little bit about how Day of Giving has, through the Student Emergency Fund and different things like that, has really driven interest into these areas when we really needed it the most.

Adam Compton:

Think about Day of Giving and the impact that it had on some of the thing our most pressing needs. We talk about Annual Giving oftentimes as stepping in to meet those most pressing needs. We had a pressing need. Students’ lives were turned upside down with COVID. You know, some of them were told, during spring break, we’ve got to close our residence halls. We’ve got to do all of these things. A lot of them, you know, were on-campus employees. They were counting on those funds of things like dining halls, like the gymnasium where they worked being open. And we suddenly got a request for student emergency funds. So, we had the Student Emergency Fund; we were one of the few universities that had already established one. So, we weren’t in the process of trying to establish one.

Adam Compton:

We already had a great process set up to do grants out of the Student Emergency Fund. And I don’t, I I’m never going to get the numbers right, and maybe on a future episode, you can bring Mike Jean Cole in to talk a little bit about this, but the grants and the ability and the number of students that needed support and said, “Hey, I could use support for this reason. I’ve got to move. I got to find a new job. I need something to bridge that gap.” And wow, did our alumni respond? You and I, again, it’s, you know, we had a ton of requests come in, and we were able to fill all those grants. We weren’t like some universities that were in a situation that had Student Emergency Funds that were then saying, “We’ve got a wait list.”

Adam Compton:

“We can’t support you.” We were able to answer that call and provide for those students. I think we even went into a second round because COVID went on — continues to go on to this day of — where students were still trying to figure things out. They had found short term … you know, we all thought, Oh, we’re going to go home for a couple weeks, and then we’re going to be back. Fast forward two years later, and we’re still coping with COVID and its impact on campus. And so, you know, we had a September Day of Giving, which was, you know, extraordinary for us. It was a rescheduled one from March, and we didn’t really know what to expect going into it. And, you know, we raised a lot of funds for some of our most critical needs like the Student Emergency Fund; like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and everything that’s going on in the world, that was going on in the world, not only today, but at that time in particular and our need to make sure we’re meeting that need and then do Day of Giving in September, and then we turn around and did it again in March.

Adam Compton:

And then, in March, we raised, $58 million, which was, at that time, the record-breaking Day of Giving in the country for a higher ed institution. And that’s just speaks to how our alumni respond. That when there’s a need and there’s an opportunity, they just respond in extraordinary ways. And you look at the campaign. We raised $2.1 billion. In a lot of ways, if you look at NC State’s history and fundraising, I would argue in the last 15 years, maybe less than that now, that we’ve professionalized our fundraising operation. We knew that, like Chancellor Woodson says, we could be a good university on state funds, but really, to make us great one, we had to go out and start raising money. And so, to go and raise $2.1 billion … we launched with a public, we launched at $1 billion.

Adam Compton:

That was an extraordinary milestone. And then we came back around, our goal being $1.6 billion and raised $2.1 billion. And that puts us in, I think, as our athletic director said, “rarefied air” of other public universities that have hit that level of fundraising, but it speaks to what’s going on at NC State. And it starts with our students, our faculty members, our leadership, and just, as all boats rise or as tides rise, whatever analogy you want to use, we’re firing on all cylinders, whatever that analogy is. Like, that’s what’s happening at NC State. And you look at the impact that that’s having today, and the impact that it will have tomorrow is going to pay, often, 10 times the dividends. And, you know, it’s incredible to have Day of Giving, to play a role in that and to meet those needs today, to start to build and get people thinking about philanthropy for NC State. We see people that come in through Day of Giving that make their first gift and then go on to make major gifts. That go on to say, “Hey, I want to go deeper with my investment.” And so, just those pieces of that puzzle and just how, you know, I think a lot of universities saw a downturn in fundraising during COVID, but we really didn’t. And that’s because of not only the need, but the impact that we’re having and how our alumni and friends and parents responded.

Taylor Pardue:

I think you mentioned something to this note earlier, and I think this is my favorite part about Day of Giving, and just Annual Giving in general, is the fact that it’s brought people on campus together to talk about philanthropy, where, you know, thankfully, I was able to come to State without having to worry about financial assistance or anything like that. I understood that scholarships and different things were part of other students’ lives, but it was kind of out of sight, out of mind. I didn’t have to worry about it, and I wasn’t plugged in so much with what I should have known, but now with Day of Giving, now with Annual Giving and just with the campaign and all, we’re really talking about that One Pack mentality of, here is how you can be part of helping all ships rise together and that sort of thing, and really just rallying around each other during COVID and, now, sort of the post-COVID time that we’re in.

Taylor Pardue:

Tell us a little bit about the importance of Annual Giving moving forward. Vice Chancellor Sischo mentioned it in the last episode, how people think we have this big pot of money now, and it’s in a safe somewhere. We just go draw out cash, dollar bills whenever we want, but talk about how … well, he mentioned earlier that that was not the case, obviously, and it goes towards our larger budget and we still have so many needs. Talk about the importance of Annual Giving going forward; how that will remain an important part of philanthropy here at NC State and just the Annual Giving department in general. You know, what the future looks like for us.

Adam Compton:

Yeah, absolutely. I think Annual Giving is going to be an important part of this university in perpetuity because there’s always going to be needs to meet that are our most pressing needs. There are always going to be opportunities to fund things; to, frankly, sometimes, experiment with things and understand, like, is this something that wants to be a fundraising priority for the university going forward? Okay. Are there opportunities to test it? You think about something, like, to meet all of our needs for our need-based students. If we said, you know, we want to meet 100% of the need, it would take over $1 billion in cash to do that in an endowment. And so, we’ve got a long way to go to raise those funds, and how can we meet those needs now?

Adam Compton:

I think things like that are what Annual Giving’s going to help with. But also, you think about, you know, a professor has an idea. They go to their dean. We’re going to have those opportunities where we just need to continue to fundraise for. And as we think about going forward as a program, we want to get more effective at personalization and speaking to people who they are and where their passions are. We, as I mentioned earlier, make some assumptions right now, and how do we get better at that? How do we get better at communicating to Adam, the individual? How do we understand, you know, what are the ways in which Adam responds to people? And maybe it’s not that phone call from the call center. Maybe it’s that email; maybe it’s that text message. Really starting to kind of lean into more of that.

Adam Compton:

One of the exciting opportunities as well is this merger between Alumni and Annual Giving and how that’s really going to allow us to have one strategic plan and one goal going forward of what does it look like to engage with the university? I look at it in some ways like a funnel, and at the top of the funnel sets these two departments. And if we’re working with one strategy, bringing people in and helping them to engage deeper with the university, the impact that’s going to have and the ability we’re going to have to reach more people and the ability we’re going to have to talk about philanthropy and share that message. Like yourself, when I was a student here, I didn’t really know about philanthropy, and how do we change that narrative? Our students are extremely philanthropic.

Adam Compton:

You look at the Krispy Kreme Challenge. You look at Shackathon in the Brickyard. All these things that they raise money for, and how do we help them see the NC States of philanthropy? How do we help them see that there’s tuition, there’s other revenues through money licensing, those kind of things. There’s state funding, and then there’s philanthropy. And the one that, frankly, in a lot of ways that we can have the most control over our ability to grow is philanthropy. And, as you know, you, we’ve seen the writing on the wall around the country of the universities that have invested in this and their ability to kind of continue to excel and meet those needs. And to be great, I think those are the opportunities to combine, you know, Annual Giving. And really, as we start to think about these pieces of our fundraising operation and our ability to really meet our donors where they are, to meet our donors where they’re most passionate about and meet our alumni constituents, that, you know, there are ways to engage in the university that doesn’t necessarily mean — I say this as an Annual Giving person — that doesn’t necessarily mean philanthropy.

Adam Compton:

You know, that there are opportunities to give back and get involved and be a connected alum without just writing a check or going online and giving.CI don’t know who has a checkbook anymore. But what we see is, oftentimes, when people engage with us, they become advocates for us. Whenever I met with an alum and when I did major gift frontline fundraising work, I kind of always said three things to them: One, your philanthropy makes an impact. If it’s giving $10 or $1 million, it has an incredible impact on this university. That we have ways in which you can volunteer and engage with this place and it is impactful.

Adam Compton:

And if you are interested in learning more about that, there are, it’s the Alumni Association; there are ways to get engaged and reconnect with alumni and those type of things. And the last one is that ability to share the message about what’s going on at NC State; that we can spend what we want to spend on our brand and marketing and all those different advertising strategies, but just as powerful, sometimes, is that alum talking to a student about why they should attend NC State, mm-hmm, talking in their community about the impact that Extension has. We’re the only school in the state that has a reach in every single county within North Carolina. That impact I saw that NC State had on my dad as a farmer and the support and the research that was being done through the Extension office, those are ways in which we go out and reach the community.

Adam Compton:

But also, how we’re changing the world and those things that we’ve already talked about that are going to start in the academy. And the NC States of the world are going to be the ones that push it out and actually solve those problems. And so, that’s the really unique thing and the thing that I get most excited about and philanthropy’s influence on all those. And it starts with Annual Giving. And, you know, that provides the funding for today, and endowments help to offset and, you know, support those things.

Taylor Pardue:

I always think of it like the Marines: Once a Marine, always a Marine. When you graduate from here, you’re always a member of the Pack, but, and I think we’ve seen it a lot in Day of Giving with not just people coming from all 100 counties to give, numerous states all across the country, you know, all around the world, different countries that we see rally around us at that time. But, you know, when you have really helped a fellow student, helped your professors, through giving, however you do it, you’re even more so a member of the Pack. You really feel a connection to this university long after you walk off the Brickyard and everything. And it’s just really great to see, like I said, that One Pack mentality. We are always, still, in this together, and I think Annual Giving’s a great way to show that. I always try to ask everyone … I actually have a two-parter for you, now. So, I always try to ask guests, what’s your favorite thing about NC State, and you are so uniquely qualified for this because of, again, that longevity, that being an alum, being an employee now, but I’ll make it easy and say favorite “things” about NC State.

Adam Compton:

You know, to me, it’s really that Think and Do mindset and everything that we do. I would not be as passionate about NC State if it weren’t for the way in which we do things. Like I’ve said, there are things that I care deeply about, and I believe those solutions are going to start at NC State, and the way in which we’re going to solve them is going to start here. And to me, that’s one of the most unique things about NC State: our ability. It’s not just, you know, you think about some areas of the academy; you hear about the ivory tower, and it’s just gonna sit in the ivory tower and never really leave. Well, we have the academy, we have this amazing thought leadership that’s happening. And then we have the ability to take it and move it out.

Adam Compton:

It’s that Think and Do. It’s what we see in our alums. It’s what we see in our students. And, to me, that’s the best thing about this place. The other thing I will say is that I’m extremely jealous of the students and what they have today, you know? I graduated, you know, so we had the bond referendum of the ’90s. And so, what that resulted in was a period of construction. And so, NC State was in this, like, constant stage of construction. Hunt Library came online after we left. We had Tally come online. Now, they’ve got new Carmichael Gym. They’ve got renovations, athletics facilities. You’ve got D.H. Hill Library that, as I was walking in today, I’m like, this place has changed so much. It’s changed so much and is, you know, it had really great things when we were students, and now, it just continues to grow and evolve. And you hear about the other things that are happening. I think that’s the other cool thing about our job is to continue to see what’s going on on this campus and be a little jealous of those students who are getting to walk these bricks and trip on these bricks and all that kind of fun stuff.

Taylor Pardue:

I graduated in 2012 and, yeah, I think I was the last class to graduate before the new Tally center came online, and I tell people all the time, “I’m so glad I’m an employee, to get to come back and see how much it’s changed,” because, yeah, private support, largely, has helped this university really transform into just the cutting-edge research area that it is now. And just, yeah, it’s great to be back on campus.

Adam Compton:

Yeah, for sure.

Taylor Pardue:

So, the other part of this question is, just as a personal anecdote for you, I have been told that you are a very big barbecue connoisseur. Tell us a little bit about that. I think you have your own barbecue sauce.

Adam Compton:

So, my roommate and I, when we were in college, we’re doing some catering and cooking for different things. And he was from one part of the state, I’m from the middle of the state, and we just got together one night in the kitchen and developed our own barbecue sauce. And we, at one point, we’re selling it and doing those kinds of things, you know, and we could have an entirely separate podcast talking about barbecue and passion for barbecue, you know? And now it’s just kind of become this kind of friends and family thing that we produce and give out occasionally and that type of stuff. But it’s just a, you know, that’s part of that melting pot of North Carolina. You’ve got this East versus West in terms of what is barbecue, what part of the pig, but then you take it, you know, barbecue outside of just North Carolina and you go to Texas and it’s brisket.

Adam Compton:

You go to other places it’s chicken or whatever part. And it’s like, you know, it’s some of that melting pot of America. And, you know, one of those things that I love about barbecue is the, you know, wherever you go, it’s part of the DNA of who people are and the history of that area. It’s just unique. You know, I know there are some very traditionalists that are like, “I only eat the shoulder with whatever sauce.” And I’m like, “Nope, I want to know what is the barbecue for your region and your area.”

Taylor Pardue:

Adam, thank you so much for taking the time out. I know you’re incredibly busy, but this has been great to talk to you about and looking forward to hopefully having you back on in a future episode to hear more about what all we’ve been able to Think and Do together as a university, but thank you again for your time.

Adam Compton:

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a lot of fun.

Taylor Pardue:

To learn more about how you can support NC State through Annual Giving, visit giving.ncsu.edu. If you’d like to hear even more stories of Wolfpack success, please subscribe to the NC State Philanthropy Podcast today in the Apple or Google podcast stores, on Spotify or through Stitcher. Be sure to leave us a comment and rating as well to let us know how we’re doing. Thanks for listening, and as always, go Pack.