By: Jenny Cifelli
University Libraries Director of Development Bob Darrah recently received the 2019 Esprit de Corps Award from Penn State’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations (DDAR). The award — in recognition of a colleague whose loyalty, leadership and dedication to Penn State goes above and beyond expectations — is an honor that the committee bestows upon an individual who improves morale and leads by example.
“In short, the winner of the Esprit de Corps award lives by the philosophy that we must be ‘good colleagues first’,” said award presenter Toni Feret, Associate Director of Development, Development and Alumni Relations for Penn State Altoona during the May 13 awards ceremony at the Nittany Lion Inn, on the University Park campus.
“Bob exemplifies the type of leader we should recognize at Penn State,” said Tina Hennessey, executive director of Development for Penn State University, who nominated Bob for the award. “He puts others first in the course of his work, including his team members, coworkers, volunteers and donors. He has an incredible commitment to teamwork and is a model for how we want our leaders to treat others.”
Bob holds a B.A. in classics from the University of Oregon and a post-baccalaureate certificate in ancient languages from Penn State, where he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature. His enrollment in a graduate program at Penn State has been beneficial to his work in development, said Hennessey, in her nomination.
“[Bob’s] school work is about his intellectual growth, but it also positions him to talk about the depth of our academic research enterprise in the humanities in great detail and with credibility,” said Hennessey. “His commitment to being a lifelong learner and his passion for the arts and humanities at Penn State in particular is what has made him such a powerful advocate for the University Libraries.”
Bob’s career in development spans close to 20 years, having held prominent positions at the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon; The Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon; and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In 2010, he began his career at Penn State with the College of Arts and Architecture as associate director of development and later as interim director of development, then as director of major gifts in the College of the Liberal Arts before joining the Libraries Development and Alumni Relations team in 2017.
“Bob uses every possible opportunity to learn and share knowledge,” said Caridad Clark, associate director of Major Gifts for the University Libraries. “Yet despite his brilliance he is humble and for me that imparts its own teachable experience, to never be too smart to learn or too selfish to teach. Bob is an exceptional leader and he is brilliant!”