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Vice President for University Advancement Rohnert Park, CA

Sonoma State University (SSU or Sonoma State), a comprehensive residential public institution in Rohnert Park, California, seeks a visionary and collaborative leader to serve as vice president for university advancement (vice president). This is an exciting opportunity to provide essential advancement leadership at one of California’s most popular institutions, unique in its liberal arts and sciences mission and located less than an hour away from the economically booming San Francisco Bay Area amidst the natural beauty of Sonoma County. The vice president will work closely with SSU’s dynamic president, Judy Sakaki, the president’s cabinet, and other campus leaders.

Sonoma State has a longstanding tradition of promoting intellectual and personal growth, leadership opportunity, and technological proficiency. The arrival of President Judy Sakaki in 2016 brought tremendous excitement and energy to the campus, and she immediately set to work building upon this tradition and refocusing attention on student success and the academic mission of the university. The vice president for university advancement will play a pivotal role in this shift, overseeing fundraising and alumni relations that enables and supports the university’s mission by setting a vision and direction for the advancement division. The university recently completed a strategic planning process that articulated priorities and set the course for SSU through 2025.

In support of the enduring legacy and mission of Sonoma State, the vice president will address key opportunities and challenges:

  • Build and coalesce a team of dedicated advancement professionals around shared goals and mutual understanding of best practices; establish a data- and metrics-driven environment, coaching and mentoring staff while fostering a culture of accountability.

The incoming vice president for university advancement will have the opportunity to strategize and shape the advancement division toward a common purpose, building camaraderie and aligning team members to a shared vision, strengthened by a data-driven approach to performance and success.

  • Increase the productivity of fundraising activities for individual, corporate, and foundation gifts; strengthen the culture of philanthropy within the SSU community; partner with SSU leaders and board members to elevate the profile of SSU and secure philanthropic gifts.

The vice president for university advancement will guide and support the president in her role as chief spokesperson and fundraiser, serving as co-strategist on cultivating and soliciting transformative gifts, and ensuring that the president is well briefed and that her time spent is highly productive. The vice president will similarly guide and support the Foundation board, senior staff, and other volunteers in development and alumni relations activities. This is a highly visible external position and the vice president will be expected to maintain an active role in the local community, building relationships and advocating for the university and its mission.

  • Create an atmosphere of trust; build collaborative relationships with campus leadership, faculty, staff, and students; and convey a commitment to shared governance.

The next vice president will join a university that is more student-centric, academically focused, and forward-looking than ever before. It is a time of tremendous optimism, vision, and growth under the leadership of President Judy Sakaki, as well as one of change led by a new team in the cabinet. The vice president will play a key role in building a culture of trust in an environment of shared governance, developing collaborative and solution-oriented relationships with all campus constituents in support of SSU’s academic mission and the vision of the president and provost. An important part of this effort will be establishing transparent communication and data-informed accountability in the advancement division.

Rachel Ellenport is leading this search with Rachel Partin and Amelia Ariel.

Sonoma State University is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer, and does not discriminate against employees or applicants because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, gender, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or disability.


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