Just more than a week after the sudden passing of Andrew Sorensen, Ohio State has filled the void with Jeff Kaplan stepping in as senior vice president for university development, president of The Ohio State University Foundation and special assistant to the president for advancement.
Sorensen died suddenly at his home on April 17. The cause of his death remains unknown.
Kaplan will leave his position as senior vice president for administration and planning. His new duties will include leading OSU’s fundraising efforts, including an upcoming university-wide campaign aiming to raise $2.5 billion, serving as president of The Ohio State University Foundation and as special assistant to the president for advancement. He said he looks forward to helping the university in any way he can.
“Any time I can do something that could positively impact the people at Ohio State, I consider it a great opportunity and a wonderful chance to have fun myself and still do some good for people,” Kaplan told The Lantern. “This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you get to try to fulfill people’s dreams and do good for a wonderful organization.”
Kaplan earned his juris doctorate from OSU’s Moritz College of Law in 1976 and graduated cum laude in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
No stranger to leadership roles, Kaplan’s OSU career began in the 1970s working in athletics, admissions and business administration. In 2007, he returned to OSU to serve as vice president for business development and collaborative advancement at OSU’s Medical Center, and as interim vice president for University Development.
“I think Jeff is a great choice to lead University Development,” said Steve Proctor, vice president of communications and advocacy with the OSU Alumni Association. “He’s certainly one of the most experienced leaders at the university right now. He’s familiar with the territory and he’s a fantastic choice and will accomplish great things.”
Before returning to OSU, Kaplan held various senior posts at hospitals in Nashville and Columbus and served as director of admissions and assistant to the president at the University of Vermont. He also served for seven years as associate vice chancellor and chief administrative officer at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he worked with President E. Gordon Gee, who was then chancellor at Vanderbilt.
“I’ve worked with Gordon for a long time,” he said. “In this case he knew that I had some background in development and communications and alumni relations, so he asked whether I would consider jumping in there given the terrible thing that happened with Dr. Sorensen.”
Gee said in a statement that Kaplan is exactly the right person for the position at this time.
“Jeff is among my most capable, creative and trusted colleagues, and I am deeply grateful to him for agreeing to lead Ohio State’s development and advancement work,” he said. “In assuming this new role, I know that he will continue to build upon the efforts begun by Andy Sorensen without any loss of momentum.”
Kaplan said he plans on making the best out of an awful situation.
“The best way really to honor somebody’s memory like Dr. Sorensen is to try to put some good touches on the work that he started and make sure it succeeds,” Kaplan said. “When something terrible like that happens, the best way that you can honor somebody is to make sure that their legacy is outstanding.”