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Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations Pasadena, CA

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) seeks a strategic, collaborative, and experienced fundraising professional to serve in the role of vice president for advancement and alumni relations (VP). The VP will join Caltech at a pivotal time as the Institute strives to reach and exceed the $2 billion goal of Break Through: The Caltech Campaign, an historic fundraising initiative to spur the most innovative and promising research, prepare students to become leaders in science and society, and help secure Caltech’s place as an engine of discovery for generations to come.

Throughout its history, Caltech has ventured into unexplored realms, defining new fields in science and engineering, and pushing interdisciplinary boundaries in the service of discovery. Caltech's commitment to the absolute excellence of its faculty, students, and staff—building a great university one outstanding individual at a time—has created an international presence that magnifies the Institute's size. Fearlessness in attacking large and important problems at scale, from the nature of the chemical bond to quarks and quasars to the structure of the brain, marks the cultural capital that aligns and knits together Caltech's intellectual community. Caltech's unflinching commitment to scientific leadership is notably expressed in the fabrication and operation of instrumentation that reveals nature in unexpected dimensions, whether through the world's largest and most productive telescopes, a seismological network of unprecedented scale, or the development of implantable medical devices to improve human well-being. As a small community of remarkable scientists, engineers, and students, Caltech is a hub of fundamental discovery and technological innovation because its scientific enterprise focuses on key strengths and collaborations across disciplines.

Caltech remains committed to setting the example of what the intertwined missions of research and education can accomplish. The operation of this educational model requires significant resources and in order to secure the Institute’s long-term sustainability, relevancy, and competitive advancement, Caltech aspires in this campaign to double the size of its endowment, which is comparatively smaller than that of its peers. To date, 64 percent of campaign gifts have been designated for the endowment; endowment support will continue to be a critical and leading short- and long-term priority for the Institute.

Caltech’s leadership is clear that an effective and productive advancement program is critical to the Institute’s ability to garner the financial resources necessary to secure its future. To this end, President Rosenbaum and Caltech’s trustees have demonstrated a strong commitment to building a world-class advancement enterprise, increasing the advancement budget and growing advancement staff over the past six years. Furthermore, dramatic enhancements were made to the infrastructure and organization of the advancement program in preparation for the current campaign, more than doubling annual philanthropic contributions to the Institute in the same time period. Philanthropy at Caltech continues to mature, and the Institute has been especially successful in securing principal gifts over the past few years, including a number of nine-figure commitments.

While the trajectory and progress of the advancement program at Caltech is impressive, there remains much work ahead in order to unlock the full potential and ensure the success of the current and future fundraising campaigns. This is an exceptional opportunity for a high-performing and accomplished leader to strengthen Caltech’s advancement program through the implementation of best practices, team and capacity building, and the application of data-driven strategies that will create a philanthropic enterprise of unsurpassed effectiveness. Success for the next VP will, in part, be defined by an ability to educate and engage all members of the Caltech community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and senior administrators—in advancement efforts in ways that reflect the collaborative and collegial culture of the Institute. As an active participant on the president’s senior leadership team, the VP will play a key role in building a culture of trust in an environment of shared governance, developing collaborative and solution-oriented relationships with campus leadership and all campus constituents in support of Caltech’s academic mission and the vision of the president, provost, and division chairs. An important part of this effort will be establishing transparent communication and data-informed accountability in the advancement division.

The VP will benefit from President Rosenbaum’s personal experience with and commitment to advancement-related activities. Reporting directly to President Rosenbaum and serving as his chief strategist on all fundraising matters, the VP will develop and refine the overall strategy and funding priorities for development at Caltech and guide Institute leadership toward the successful completion of Break Through: The Caltech Campaign. The VP will build upon Caltech’s strong principal gifts culture to create a program that contributes to a holistic culture of philanthropy, with a focus on broadening the donor base to reflect the Institute’s vast and global footprint. The next VP will bring a thoughtful, energetic, and entrepreneurial approach to leveraging Caltech’s existing relationships in the Southern California region to philanthropic gain and to positioning the president to connect with philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders who are not currently engaged with the Institute. Additionally, the VP will personally and successfully engage a select portfolio of major and principal gift prospects and donors; will partner with gift officers to determine appropriate strategies and define mutually acceptable annual and multi-year performance goals; and ensure that the advancement operation effectively maximizes the personal and financial engagement of Caltech’s 24,000 living alumni, parents, industry partners, and friends in the life of the Institute.

The VP will play a central role in enhancing the visibility and profile of Caltech, partnering closely with key teams, including strategic communications, to help devise and disseminate a strong and consistent message about the Institute to its internal and external constituencies. Specifically, the VP will be expected to immediately address the below challenges, and a broad set of responsibilities as outlined at the end of this document.

  • Caltech aspires to increase sustainable annual philanthropic support to $300 million or more, and meet and exceed the $2 billion campaign goal in the coming years. To do so, the VP will build upon and further refine the organizational structure to maximize efficiencies and enhance coordination between the various functions of the advancement division. The VP will inspire and mobilize 114 advancement staff members to meet aggressive goals that include enhancing donor discovery efforts; expanding the major gift pipeline; better leveraging international giving opportunities; elevating the importance of stewardship; and broadening the reach of alumni relations activities as well as more fully integrating alumni relations into advancement efforts.
  • Publicly launched in April 2016, Break Through: The Caltech Campaign has secured $1.75 billion of the $2 billion goal to date; the Institute is well-positioned to meet the dollar goal in advance of the scheduled 2022 campaign conclusion. Working closely with the president, board leadership, and campaign steering committee, the next VP will thoroughly assess the gains made to date within the campaign and determine appropriate strategies for continuing to harness the campaign’s momentum through extended and/or future efforts.

Caltech seeks a VP who is imaginative and well-organized, and capable of articulating an overarching strategy while recognizing the importance of the details that are often the difference between success and failure. With at least fifteen years of leadership experience in advancement, the ideal candidate must possess strong managerial, strategic planning, and motivational skills; a keen understanding of best practices in higher education fundraising and a comprehensive knowledge of all major development and alumni functions, including a depth of campaign experience; and a track record of significant personal success in donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship at major and principal gift levels. The ideal candidate will be a seasoned team leader adept at maximizing, leveraging, and advocating for a talented staff, and facilitating team success.

The next VP must be an integral member of the Caltech community. S/he will reflect and embody the values of Caltech, leading advancement efforts and serving the Institute with authenticity, warmth, humility, grace, and humor. The candidate must demonstrate a high level of integrity and trust; and exhibit the credibility, diplomacy, emotional intelligence, maturity, judgment, and sophistication to effectively engage and partner with key internal and external stakeholders. The candidate must possess extraordinary communication and negotiation skills, and the ability to build bridges and strong collaborative relationships across the Institute. The ideal candidate will be a self-assured, results-oriented development professional with a collegial and accessible leadership style and a deep appreciation and passion for the mission, goals, and unique culture of Caltech. A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree is preferred.

Jack Gorman and Rachel Ellenport are leading this search with Becky Piper and Devon Benjamin.

Caltech is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer and will, whenever possible, actively recruit and include for employment members of underrepresented minority groups, females, disabled veterans, other eligible veterans, and otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. Caltech will hire, transfer, and promote based on the qualifications of the individual to ensure equal consideration and fair treatment of all.


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