While working for his degree in economics at the University of Chicago, Terry Sykora got a part-time job with the American Bar Association doing development work. It was the late 1970s and by the time he graduated in 1980, the position turned into full-time work.
The program he was responsible for—involving a capital campaign to increase awareness of free legal services to the poor and educating the public about the legal profession—later won an award from the Direct Mail Marketing Association.
“It was a nice way to start a career,” said Sykora, who joined DWC in July as vice-president for Development. “I have the full portfolio of experience needed to help Divine Word College step up to the next level of achievement in fundraising, public affairs and marketing.”
Sykora brings experience from several years of major fundraising at Catholic and other private colleges and universities, according to Fr. Mike Hutchins, SVD, president of Divine Word. Over the course of his career, he has held positions at top institutions including Regis University (Denver, Colorado), Loyola University in Chicago, and Illinois Institute of Technology. Over his career, he has also raised money to advance private ventures and worked with a foundation connected to a Chicago-area retirement community.
“Terry comes to Divine Word College to help intensify our Development outreach to friends and benefactors,” Fr. Mike said. “As part of his coordination of our overall outreach program, Terry will give special attention to our programs for major and planned giving.”
Sykora said his focus will be on building current programs and adding new ones that significantly increase the college’s financial resources and helps to advance its mission—an approach that is quite timely.
DWC is growing. Its expanded study body has welcomed religious Sisters and seminarians from other orders to join those studying to be priests and Brothers in the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). This fall, DWC will welcome its first lay students, who come to the college from Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Morant Bay, Jamaica. With the increased demand to accommodate more students comes an increased demand for financial resources.
“Divine Word is a different kind of place and a new kind of challenge for somebody like me. I’m looking forward to that,” Sykora said. “It’s going be a lot of fun creating some new programs and perhaps reshaping some things that we already have.”
In a way, Sykora is returning to his roots. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, his family moved to a farm near Windom, in southwestern Minnesota where he spent his formative years before heading off to college. Those early years were good ones, a time when he was active in 4-H, music and speech. Leaving the suburbs of Chicago for a job in Epworth, Iowa is like “going home,” to rural America.
“It’s a more balanced kind of life and a healthier way to live. You aren’t spending three hours on the expressway,” he said. “If I could have, I would have made a change like this a long time ago.”