Get to Know

Get to Know Joel Agate

Joel Agate holding his white Coton de Tulear, Ethel.

Joel Agate is the Assistant Director of Advancement for the College of Veterinary Medicine.

When did you begin working at the College of Veterinary Medicine?
I moved to Illinois and started working at the College in July of 2023. 

Describe your role at the college.
I am responsible for annual giving, which means that I cultivate relationships with current and potential donors to the College of Veterinary Medicine, specifically donors giving gifts between $1K and $25K. I welcome opportunities, however, to support donors who give smaller or larger gifts and I recognize that every gift, small or large, enables us to achieve the college’s mission of improving animal, human, and environmental health. I work with alumni, community members, corporate donors, grateful clients, and anyone else who wants to support the important work we do at the college. 

I also support awards and scholarships, identifying and soliciting new scholarships and making sure that the funds come in to support the existing scholarships available to our students. Our office ensures funds are in place to support over $1M in awards and scholarships each year. I am excited to see this number continue to grow. 

Have you held any previous titles or responsibilities at the college?
I am a brand-new transplant to Central Illinois and to the University of Illinois. Before joining advancement, I worked in the private sector, taught at universities including SUNY Brockport and Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and I worked in non-profits focused on helping people live healthy and happy lives. I am inspired by the college’s focus on One Health and I believe in our efforts to make lives better. 

What is your favorite part of your job?
I love people! I pursued an opportunity in advancement, specifically because I wanted to connect with people who care about animals, people, and the environment and help them reach their goals. I also love being part of a university—there’s something about the environment where people are discovering new knowledge and people are learning to make a positive impact in the world. 

Complete this sentence: My most memorable day at work was…
… No single experience, but my most memorable days are the ones when I get to hear people talk about the impacts the College of Veterinary Medicine has had in their lives—saving their beloved pets, being here to care for injured wildlife, or giving them the skills to care for other people’s animals. Be it grateful clients, alumni, or community members, I never tire of hearing people share stories of the care and compassion they have gotten from the people at the college. And when they are able to identify something they care deeply about, and they have the resources to support that financially, it is a joy to help them make a gift. 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I mostly follow my kids around. I have 3 wonderful kids and I love to support them in whatever they’re doing. My daughter (who just turned 17 years old!) is an elite lacrosse player, recently committed to continue her lacrosse career and pursue her college degree at Marquette University (because Illinois doesn’t have NCAA lacrosse). Over the past decade, we’ve traveled the country for her lacrosse tournaments, resulting in some great family time and wonderful shared adventures. My boys play soccer, dabble in other sports, and play in band. I enjoy being on the sidelines or in the bleachers for them, and thankfully, their activities tend to occur a bit closer to home. Oh, and my wife is a runner, so I love to cheer her on as she runs marathons, half marathons or other races—especially when she runs in beautiful places—so far The Lake Placid Half Marathon and The Key West Half Marathon have been my favorite ones to watch. Note, my participation in all these events is mostly sedentary and I participate entirely as a cheerleader, but I also love to jump into a backyard soccer game or game of catch.  

What is something your co-workers may be surprised to know about you?
I have my PhD in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, and spent 9 years as a faculty member, ultimately leaving a tenured faculty position for other opportunities. I still miss the classroom, but I do teach as an adjunct instructor when occasion permits.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
My bucket list consists mostly of beaches I want to visit and mountain trails I want to hike. My commitment wanes as my age increases, but I hope to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. 

Do you have a favorite restaurant or place in the Champaign/Urbana area?
I live right by Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, and I spend a lot of evenings walking the trails with my family and enjoying nature. I also love Art Mart! They have so many delightful things—delicious treats, great lunches, fun things for the house, and and and…. I could be a spokesperson for them, I love them so much! 

Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Even if it’s just to take my dog for a short walk, I have to get outside. I am excited to get to know the parks and natural areas that are within reach of Champaign. I have started making a list, but if you have recommendations, please send them my way!  

Do you have any pets?
I have a sweet seven-year-old Coton de Tulear, Ethel, named after Ethel Mertz (my kids watch a lot of I Love Lucy). I am her person and she follows me everywhere when I let her.