Fundraising and Revenue in College Esports

Collegiate Track

10/09/20, 11:00AM - 12:00PM PT

About the Session

It is easy to see dollar signs when we look at esports. It’s a growing, billion-dollar industry and universities are beginning to see potential revenue and opportunity. This panel will bring together senior campus leaders from major universities to share how they are learning about the interesting world of esports while applying their experience around fundraising and fiscal responsibility.

Tomitha Blake

Assistant Vice Provost for Advancement, Academic & Student Affairs, University of Washington

Tomitha Blake serves as the Assistant Vice Provost for Academic & Student Affairs at the University of Washington. Since 1989, she has championed access to higher education as an antidote to inequities and a pathway to opportunity. Currently, she leads a team of advancement professionals who secure funding for access, diversity and programs to help UW students define and grow their personal leadership in the context of community, research, and future career paths. This year the University of Washington completed a $6.3B comprehensive campaign with the Academic & Student Affairs team driving success for student support through the Division of Student Life, Undergraduate & Academic Affairs, the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, Enrollment Management and the Graduate School.

Anne O'Donnell

Senior Executive Director of Corporate Relations,
UC San Diego

With 19 years of experience building impactful corporate relations programs, Anne leads a team of fundraisers developing central holistic corporate relationships across UC San Diego for industry access to innovation, talent, education and partnerships. She works closely with university leadership, faculty and staff across campus, including research centers, to connect industry needs to university resources. Anne is currently working with UC San Diego Recreation to build the Triton Esports Center to support the highly competitive Triton Esports Team and provide research, entertainment and social impact programs for students and the community around esports and gaming.

Prior to this role, Anne led the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering corporate engagement programs as the director of the Corporate Affiliates Program (CAP), a program providing more than 75 high-tech and life science member companies with access to faculty, research and students. Later, she became the executive director of Corporate Research Partnerships where she built seven of the dean’s agile research centers, multidisciplinary faculty teams focused on industry-relevant technologies. Anne’s industry experience is in business development for 3D interactive, immersive multi-media training and entertainment systems.

An alumna of Mount Holyoke College, Anne earned a master’s in public policy and a master’s in theology at Harvard University. Anne currently serves on the Board of Directors for University-Industry Demonstration Partnerships (UIDP). Anne is an International Coach Federation (ICF)-certified professional leadership coach.

Eric Monday

Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, University of Kentucky

Dr. Eric N. Monday became Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration at the University of Kentucky (UK) in December 2012. In this role, he serves as the chief non-academic administrative officer of the University, which has over 30,000 students, approximately 20,000 full and part-time employees, and a budget of more than $4.4 billion.

Dr. Monday has executive responsibilities for a wide range of business services and auxiliary enterprises that provide the financial, administrative, and operational responsibilities for the University. He directs the development of the budget, provides administrative services, allocates fiscal resources, and manages the elements of fiscal accountability necessary to accomplish the University's mission. Dr. Monday also serves as advisor to the President in his role as Acting Chief of Staff.

His areas of interest include auxiliary and business services at colleges and universities, student retention strategies, public-private university partnerships, and the financial wellness of college students.

A Louisiana native, Monday received his Ph.D., Master of Public Administration, and Bachelor of Science degrees from LSU.

Heidi Woodbury

Vice President for Institutional Advancement,
University of Utah

Heidi has served in various leadership roles in the David Eccles School of Business since 1996— most recently as assistant dean for external relations, guiding all aspects of advancement for the Eccles School. Under her leadership, financial support from private, foundation and industry donors significantly increased; new academic centers and facilities were built to meet the needs of students, faculty and our community’s business professionals; and alumni connections across the nation and world have flourished. She has guided numerous changes in the Eccles School of Business, most notably technology and branding enhancements that promote its visibility and connection throughout the state. Prior to joining the Eccles School, Heidi was the chief advancement officer for KUER-FM, the university’s public radio station.

Among other campus-wide roles, Heidi serves on the Development Operations Committee, which recommends development standards and practices for the university.

Heidi is trusted and respected by her colleagues. She is widely recognized for her collaborative, positive and team-building style, her remarkable ability to build long-standing relationships with external stakeholders, and her impressive work ethic. Heidi is leading a $2 billion campaign, currently at $1.78 billion and on track to meet the total goal. In fiscal year 2020 alone, she raised $301,709,620. Heidi directs a staff of 55 people and a wider advancement staff of over 300.

Kurt Melcher (Mod.)

Executive Director of Gaming & Esports, Intersport
Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University

Kurt manages the Gaming & Esports Group at Intersport, leading a team of esports and gaming industry veterans that delivers innovative marketing solutions, business strategy, investment intelligence and original production services to brands, publishers, leagues, teams, universities and investors. The Intersport Esports Group is the driving force behind notable work for clients that include the NCAA, Warner Bros., Rocket Mortgage, Samsung, Nathan’s, Red Bull and Kraft Heinz.

Kurt rose to prominence in 2014, when he made Robert Morris University (IL) the first college to recognize esports as part of the athletic department and offer athletic scholarships to gamers, helping legitimize the world of college esports. An athletic administrator and coach for more than 15 years, Melcher recognized the core educational elements involved in traditional sports and believes the same holds true in esports.

Melcher’s visionary program has been highlighted in a number of prominent news outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Time Magazine, ESPN, NPR, HBO Real Sports, and in the documentary film, “All Work All Play.” Kurt also became a TED speaker when he presented the TED Talk “Gamers, The Rising Stars of Collegiate Athletics” in 2016.