|Jane Reuter Hitzeman, B.F.A. ’66, M.A. ’72, and
Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr., B.F.A. ’53
During a 24-year career at Washington University, Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr. became the chief architect of advancement programs in fundraising, alumni relations, and public relations that dramatically raised the University’s national and international profile. Jane Reuter Hitzeman became an award-winning teacher whose career spanned three decades.
The Hitzemans’ shared life journey began when they met in 1950 as students at the School of Fine Arts. Washington University has been a central part of their lives for almost 60 years.
Jane and Herb believe their education prepared them for the future by combining the fine arts with the liberal arts. The University has a strong commitment to educating art students, as stated in the Undergraduate Bulletin of 1906: “...the study of art is on a broader plane than may at first be supposed. The mind, as well as the eye and hand, must be trained, and the broader the general education of the student, the more probable becomes his or her success in later years.”
Transforming the University
Herb graduated with a B.F.A. in 1953 and went to work in the merchandising department of Anheuser-Busch, where he designed innovative product displays that won a Sylvania Award for Showmanship in Advertising. He joined the family contracting business in 1956, but 10 years later he returned to Washington University to work on the “Seventy by ’Seventy” campaign. Its goal was to raise $70 million by 1970.
“The University had never mounted a fundraising effort of this magnitude,” Herb says. “They were having limited success, because until that time little had been done to build strong relationships with the alumni and the public.” He was put in charge of raising funds for the medical school and the dental school and was so successful that Chancellor Thomas H. Eliot appointed Herb director of the Seventy by ’Seventy campaign in 1968.
In 1969 the campaign met its $70 million goal a year ahead of schedule, and Herb was named director of development for the University. A year later he was elevated to associate vice chancellor in charge of all alumni and development programs, and in 1973 he launched a $120 million campaign that was completed two years ahead of schedule. In 1975 he was named vice chancellor for university relations by Chancellor William H. Danforth.
Recognizing the importance of building mutually beneficial relationships between the University and its alumni, parents, and other constituents, Herb spearheaded a variety of initiatives, including a network of alumni chapters, the Parents Council, the Alumni Board of Governors, the Commission on the Future of Washington University, and the National Council advisory system. In 1983 Herb, then senior vice chancellor, launched the ALLIANCE FOR WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY campaign, which raised $630.5 million—more than twice its original goal and a record for an American university at that time.
When Herb retired in 1990, Chancellor Danforth said, “The role Herb Hitzeman has played during the past 24 years in shaping the future and the national image of Washington University is immeasurable. Without Herb, Washington University would be a lesser institution.” The University named the Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr. Residence Hall in his honor.
When Herb retired in 1990, Chancellor Danforth said, “The role Herb Hitzeman has played during the past 24 years in shaping the future and the national image of Washington University is immeasurable…”
Herb’s legacy includes $1 billion raised and one of the nation’s most successful and respected development programs. It is a measure of his achievement that his responsibilities were divided between two successors—David T. Blasingame for Alumni and Development Programs and M. Fredric Volkmann for University Relations and Public Affairs. Blasingame says, “Herb was a great mentor and helped prepare me for what I’m doing today. Working first with Tom Eliot and later with Bill Danforth, Herb marshaled the financial and volunteer resources that began the transformation of Washington University. He also laid the foundation for our modern-day Alumni and Development Programs.”
Herb received a Distinguished Alumni Award at Founders Day in 1991. In 1995 the William Greenleaf Eliot Society presented him with the “Search” Award, its highest honor. In 2005 the University established the Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr. Leadership Award, presented annually to a resident of the HIGE Residential College.
Training the Eye, Mind, and Hand
Jane Hitzeman worked tirelessly with Herb to help build relations with alumni and friends in all schools at the University. In addition, she taught kindergarten and art to grades one through six while completing her B.F.A. In 1966 she joined the Parkway School District, where she taught art in the elementary and secondary schools. She received an Exceptional Teacher Award each year and later was appointed art supervisor for the district. There, she developed innovative methods for teaching art based on the five basic elements of design—line, shape, color, texture, and form—the essential language for all art instruction.
Jane earned a master’s degree in education at Washington University in 1972 and began teaching there in the Graduate Institute of Education. She enjoyed helping students discover that “teaching art is a creative process that enables them to become more aware of their surroundings and to express themselves in their own way.” She also began conducting workshops and seminars for many community organizations and developed a curriculum for the Saint Louis Art Museum’s education department.
Jane retired from teaching in 1985 but continues producing art. She has worked extensively in ceramics, sculpture, and fabrics, designing and making her clothes. More recently she has been working with paper, both as a two-dimensional and three-dimensional medium. Jeff Pike, dean of the College and Graduate School of Art, says, “Many of these pieces are quite experimental and, I think, embody Jane’s artistic ability and sense of humor. She has produced literally thousands of such works. Her productivity is an inspiration to us all.”
The artistic disposition seems to be genetic. Jane and Herb’s son, John, is a nationally recognized model maker. His company, American Model Builders, Inc., creates scale models and prototypes for national corporations and other clients and produces products for the hobby industry.
A Lasting Legacy
The Hitzemans have been active in the community and continue to give back to their alma mater. In 2006 they made a gift commitment to establish and endow the Jane Reuter Hitzeman and Herbert F. Hitzeman, Jr. Professorship for the Dean of the College and Graduate School of Art. The Hitzemans also sponsor the Jane Reuter Hitzeman Scholarship in Art as Fellows of the Eliot Society.
In February 2007, at the installation of Dean Pike as the first Hitzeman Professor, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said of Jane and Herb, “Their strong support and dedication to the University throughout the years have touched every person here. Their commitment to our teaching and research mission will have an impact for generations to come.”
The Hitzemans are grateful for their education. They believe that an understanding of art helps one to see that there are no boundaries—no limits to what can be achieved in any endeavor.