When Rivi Frankle retired this past September, U of T lost one of its most passionate promoters. During her 39-year career, Frankle – whose final title was assistant vice-president (alumni and stakeholder relations) – made indelible contributions to the field of university advancement, while acting as a cherished mentor to many in the profession.
A longtime director of the Career Centre, Frankle (BA 1968 UC) switched to alumni affairs in 1988. As assistant vice-president of alumni and development, she played a significant role in the university’s Great Minds campaign, which raised $1.1 billion – an amount that remains unrivalled in Canadian fundraising history. But Frankle didn’t consider herself primarily a fundraiser; her job, she says, was creating relationships. “One of the things I set out to do was to make contact personal for alumni and friends of the university,” says Frankle. “I did that by putting my name on everything, so that everyone knew there was someone here they could get in touch with.”
In the words of President David Naylor, Frankle “made a career out of recognizing and thanking others for their contributions.” This was best exemplified through her creation of the Arbor Awards in 1989, a celebration of alumni volunteers. An enthusiastic volunteer herself, Frankle chaired U of T’s United Way campaign for almost 30 years, supervised U of T Day (the university’s annual open house) throughout the 1990s and supported initiatives related to Pride Toronto and Black History Month.
Frankle also forged links with alumni who might otherwise have felt far from U of T, geographically or otherwise. She opened the Hong Kong office in 1993, which established the university as a pioneer in international advancement. And, in 2007, she brainstormed the perfect event to commemorate Convocation Hall’s 100th anniversary: a special ceremony for 33 veterans who, for reasons of military service, hadn’t been able to receive their degrees during the Second World War. “It was the most amazing ceremony ever,” she recalls. “We were all in tears.”
With creativity and consummate people skills, Frankle made alumni feel consistently valued. “People love her – pure and simple,” says Jon Dellandrea, who worked with her for 11 years in his capacity as U of T vice-president and chief advancement officer. His successor David Palmer echoed that sentiment in a recent message to his staff. “There are very few who can say they have served an institution so faithfully for so long,” he wrote, “and made so many friends.”
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