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Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Grinnell, IA


Grinnell College, one of the nation’s preeminent, liberal-arts institutions, seeks an exceptional vice president for development and alumni relations to provide strategic vision, leadership, and direction for all fundraising, alumni relations, and stewardship activities. Reporting directly to the president of the College, this position is responsible for designing and implementing policy and programs that maximize personal engagement and yields increasing levels of support for Grinnell College. The successful candidate will have the unique opportunity to partner with a dynamic and ambitious president and will play a central role in enhancing the visibility and fundraising capabilities of the institution, ensuring Grinnell’s position at the forefront of liberal-arts education.

Grinnell College is a highly selective, private, residential, liberal-arts college widely recognized for its academic rigor and a strong tradition of social engagement. Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls approximately 1,600 students from almost all 50 states and from approximately 50 other countries in 27 major fields and 12 interdisciplinary concentrations. Among the nation’s liberal-arts colleges, Grinnell is widely viewed as an institution of the first rank, with an excellent faculty, a consistently strong and increasingly diverse student body (18% international, 26% people of color, 16% first-generation), a well-equipped and memorably beautiful campus, and a formidable financial position.

In 2010, Grinnell welcomed Dr. Raynard S. Kington as its 13th president. Now in his seventh year, President Kington has established a strong and highly collaborative senior team. He has raised the profile of Grinnell College through his active participation in the national conversation around higher education, the value of a liberal-arts education, access, and bridging the inequality gap. He has married the vitality of the surrounding town and the College through a robust economic development partnership. President Kington’s management style is inclusive, and he is committed to thoughtful and transparent decision-making. The vice president will partner with a president committed to preserving Grinnell College’s enduring values while forging a new, innovative, and exciting future.

President Kington initiated a strategic planning process in fall 2011 that has developed substantive strategies, including building a humanities and social studies complex; a data-driven and successful enrollment program; and establishing the Center for Careers, Life and Service; the Center for Teaching, Learning and Assessment; and the Institute for Global Engagement. Grinnell has identified ambitious goals for the years ahead as it seeks to achieve its highest potential as one of the country’s very best liberal-arts colleges. In the area of development and alumni relations, these goals include increasing the quality and frequency of alumni engagement activities and creating opportunities to engage alumni in the academic program. The College also seeks to foster a culture of philanthropy that recognizes the crucial role of alumni giving and provides meaningful opportunities for alumni to give back to the Grinnell community through their time, energy, expertise, and money.

The vice president for development and alumni relations will report directly to President Kington, serving as his principal advisor on all development matters and as an active participant in his senior cabinet. He or she will work closely with the president in all of his philanthropic work and will partner with the president and senior staff in cultivating donors at the highest levels. The vice president will develop a program that maximizes the engagement of the College’s past and present trustees, alumni, parents, and other constituencies. He or she will conduct a strategic assessment of existing philanthropic strengths and opportunities, creating a road map for long-term growth. This will entail setting clear, achievable goals; promoting and strengthening alumni involvement through creative, relevant programming; implementing accountability measures; and inspiring the staff to exceed expectations.

In addition to managing a staff of 40, the vice president will personally participate in the identification, cultivation, and solicitation of principal and major gifts, and will become an active and visible member in the local and college community. He or she will launch systematic initiatives to identify and cultivate the next generation of donors to Grinnell while maintaining and strengthening ties to existing donors. The vice president will also seek out new philanthropic opportunities and will work with others across the institution to create a strong and consistent message about the College to its constituencies. Grinnell College is in the beginning phase of a fundraising campaign, the first in 20 years. The new vice president will be shepherding the College from the initial, quiet phase of the campaign, which has already raised over $90 million, to the public and active phase.

The vice president will have a deep understanding of and passion for the mission and goals of an outstanding liberal-arts college. The ideal candidate will be a dynamic and accomplished individual with 10 to 15 years of leadership experience in development, campaign management, and constituency engagement. His or her experience should also include a comprehensive knowledge of strategies employed in all major development and alumni functions, as well as a track record of significant personal success in donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship at principal gift levels. He or she should have a demonstrated ability to craft engagement and fundraising strategies tied to a broader institutional vision and educational objectives. The successful candidate will also be able to succinctly communicate his or her vision and process to the president and other key players, utilizing data and metrics as appropriate as a foundation for advancement programs. The vice president must be able to create a results-oriented work environment that promotes collaboration and achievement. He or she will lead by example, motivating the office to foster relationships with alumni, parents, donors, and volunteers.

Jack Gorman is leading this search with Jonathan Richardson and Nicole Poe.

Grinnell College is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to attracting and retaining highly qualified individuals who collectively reflect the diversity of the nation. No applicant shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital status, religion, creed, or disability.

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