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Tara Gallagher hired as director of student philanthropy and donor relations

Tara Gallagher is a Gator through and through. Since frequenting football games at the University of Florida with her brother growing up, she knew wanted to be part of the Gator community. Now, two UF degrees and eight years working on campus later, Gallagher has been hired as director of student philanthropy and donor relations for the Division of Student Life.

Gallagher said her primary goal is to establish a university-wide understanding of philanthropy, as well as how individuals can give back to their peers. She plans to accomplish this by focusing on relationship building, education and fundraising.

Many UF students and organizations are already highly engaged in giving back to the university, Gallagher said, and it is this existing philanthropic spirit that she hopes to build upon.

“There’s going to be a focus on having peers lead those conversations and getting students highly engaged in this idea of giving back to the institution even while they’re here,” Gallagher said. “Hopefully, it will keep this relationship going once they become alumni.”

After transferring to UF from Santa Fe College, Gallagher earned her bachelor’s degree in art history and classical studies. Post-graduation, she helped manage local apartment properties before accepting her first full-time role at UF’s Department of Housing and Residence Life in 2013.

“I’ve always been a Gator — I bleed orange and blue,” Gallagher said. “I’m really passionate about this university and what it does, not only for the state, but internationally. The Gator Nation truly is everywhere.”

Until June 2021, Gallagher worked in housing operations with a focus on occupancy management and family outreach, creating UF’s first housing tour program and organizing recruitment events for students. At the same time, she earned her master’s degree in student personnel in higher education from UF.

In addition to her position in housing, Gallagher worked closely with leaders at Student Life to cultivate membership and engagement. For two years, she maintained a part-time role working with Gator Too, UF Student Life’s family annual giving program. This experience, Gallagher said, is what sparked her interest in philanthropy and inspired her to pursue her current role.

As director of student philanthropy and donor relations, Gallagher will build on current programs such as Gator Too and My Gift. Our Legacy, an initiative that encourages graduating Gators to support UF through a class gift.

In addition to creating new initiatives aimed at giving back to UF, Gallagher also said she plans to forge and maintain relationships between UF alumni and the current student body. Identifying what former student leaders are doing post-graduation and working to keep them involved in current student life initiatives, she said, is an integral part of donor relations.

Ultimately, Gallagher said she’s looking forward to engaging students in philanthropy by acknowledging current Gators striving to give back to UF and encouraging others to share that passion.

“What I’m really excited about is helping them see how their time is just as important, if not more, as their treasure,” she said. “How we highlight that and celebrate them for that — that’s part of our philanthropic efforts, too.”

Learn more about the Division of Student Life.

Source: Tara Gallagher, tgallagher@ufsa.ufl.edu

Writer: Veronica Nocera, vnocera@ufsa.ufl.edu