Vice President for Development & Alumni Affairs

Posted in on 03/15/2013

Merrimack College

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North Andover, MA


North Andover, MA

Description :

Merrimack College invites nominations and applications for the position of Vice President for Development & Alumni Affairs.  Position is available immediately.

Founded in 1947 by the Order of St. Augustine, Merrimack College is a comprehensive, residential, contemporary Catholic college located some 20 miles north of Boston in the historic and scenic Merrimack River Valley.  The College currently enrolls 2,250 undergraduate and graduate students in schools of liberal arts, science and engineering, business, and education.


Still a relatively young college, Merrimack seeks an experienced, energetic, and accomplished fundraising and alumni affairs executive. The Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs, reporting to the President’s Office and the Chief of Staff/External Affairs, will plan and manage the College’s development and alumni affairs functions. The Vice President oversees a growing staff of 12 and a salary and non-salary budget of approximately $1,800,000, it is expected the budget will double over the next 5 years.  Reporting to the Vice President is an Assistant Vice President for Development and a Director of Alumni Relations. The Division annually raises approximately $4.0m in gifts, grants and pledges (FY 2012) and seeks to increase the annual amount to $8.5m by (FY 2017).

Specific responsibilities, opportunities and challenges for this newly created position include:

  • Managing Individual Philanthropic Support & Stewardship – Serve as the College’s chief development officer who, along with the President, Chief of Staff, Assistant Vice President for Development and select members of the Board of Trustees, builds and maintains strong relationships with individual donors and prospects with the greatest philanthropic capacity.  In leadership with the President and using the institution’s new strategic plan, The Agenda for Distinction, as a critical driver, the Vice President will:
    • Plan and manage the broad annual fund-raising strategy for the College including the annual fund and major giving, while providing significant leadership as one of the institution’s chief principal gift officers, cultivating and securing minimum gifts in the $500,000 plus range.
    • Develop goals, strategies and action plans with measurable deliverables for the Division of Development and Alumni Affairs, and each department & employee within the division
    • Lead a systematic communication, identification, cultivation, and recognition process that will resonate with the Merrimack College community and result in a larger and broader pool of donors
    • Manage, coordinate and provide support for the fundraising activities of the college deans, provost and athletic director
    • Provide administrative support to the Advancement Committee of the Board of Trustees, assisting the co-chairs and members with management of the Committee and their roles in prospect identification, qualification, cultivation and solicitation on behalf of the College.
    • Strategy, Planning and Implementation – The Vice President will work with the President, VP/Chief of Staff, Senior Leadership, Deans and the Board to identify, create, prioritize and articulate fundraising ideas and cases for funding that meet current institutional priorities and strengthens the overall fundraising potential of Merrimack College.
    • Reorganize and Build the Development & Alumni Affairs Division – As the college’s structure and needs have grown more complex, the development and alumni affairs division should mirror the comprehensiveness and complexity of Merrimack College. The Vice President will need to assess and build, over the next 5 years, the infrastructure, staff, budget, and systems of the division to ensure it can support a larger, more complex fundraising effort, including a major fundraising campaign in the future.
    • Strengthening Alumni Engagement – As the College explores ways to better connect with graduates, this position will play a crucial role in leading efforts to strengthen those relationships and address the unique interests, expectations and motivations of Merrimack College alumni. He or she should bring relevant experience to bear as well as a keen awareness of best practices in alumni engagement.
    • Managing the Annual Fund and Building a Prospect Pipeline – Through effective management of the College’s annual fund program, build and implement strategies that move donors up and through a structured giving pipeline to major and leadership giving.  Inclusive to this role is an ability to strategically plan integrated and segmented solicitation campaigns that utilize multiple vehicles for outreach and an understanding of messaging and communications strategies that are aligned with key institutional messages.
    • Recruiting, Supervising and Supporting Front-Line and Back Office Staff in the Division of Development & Alumni Affairs – The College will increase its investment over the coming years in the professional staff and operating budgets of the Development & Alumni Affairs Division. The Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations will recruit, supervise and empower an experienced and talented staff, fostering strategic collaboration across the departments within the division and across the College. The Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, benchmarking against peers, will nimbly adapt to ever‐changing economic and external factors. To be most successful, the candidate will work to develop a strong and diverse team, whose members share a clear vision and work to fulfill measurable goals.
    • Preparing for a Major Campaign – The new Vice President will take the lead on planning and leading a new comprehensive and strategically focused fundraising campaign. The campaign will seek support for academic priorities, athletics, expanded facilities and scholarships. The Vice President will take the lead on assessing campaign potential and strategically prioritizing institutional aspirations as outlined in the strategic and long-range plan. In addition to building internal staff and systems, he or she will be responsible for positioning executive and volunteer leadership for their roles, galvanizing the faculty and those in leadership positions, training and developing staff and volunteers, and building the capacity to raise up to $100 million dollars over several years.
    • Serving as Trusted Advisor & Colleague – The Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations will serve as a key member of the College’s leadership team, working closely with the President, Chief of Staff, Trustees, and other senior administrators. The Vice President will need to articulate a bold, well-developed vision for Development and Alumni Relations, while working to advance agreed upon institutional priorities. The Vice President will need to inspire confidence, prompting others to embrace fully the philanthropic objectives of the College.


The successful candidate will be an accomplished and articulate person of substance with a track record of success as a senior development professional, preferably in a higher education institution. The new Vice President will understand complex organizations, have experience with different models, and bring leadership and proven management skills to the reorganization of development & alumni affairs. The expansion of comprehensive planning efforts will be most important, with an emphasis on metrics, accountability and stewardship.

Key qualifications include:

  • superb skills and demonstrated success in major gift cultivation and individual donor solicitation;
  • successful experience in larger institution of higher education or a large non-profit and a senior member of a fundraising team that developed, executed and successfully completed a major fundraising campaign;
  • upper level experience supervising staff and programs within a sophisticated development and alumni relations operation;
  • demonstrated ability to build and lead diverse teams;
  • proven ability to work effectively in a collaborative environment with peers, subordinates and hierarchy.
  • ability to engineer and design work flow processes, teams and plans;
  • experience in setting fundraising targets and managing fundraising goals;
  • bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 10+ years of relevant experience; and
  • an ability to embrace the culture and values of Merrimack College.


To be a successful Vice President of Development and Alumni Affairs he or she must be:

  • a clear and persuasive communicator and patient listener, able to relate to and inspire confidence of all constituencies of the College—faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, parents, board members, etc;
  • a seasoned individual fundraiser who is experienced with systematically communicating, identifying, cultivating, and recognizing major and principled gift prospects and donors
  • a high energy, results oriented leader, willing to travel domestically and internationally and entertain regularly;
  • deeply knowledgeable about best practices and new trends in development and alumni relations, including a keen interest in technology and social media;
  • creative and determined, willing to take measured risks to accomplish goals;
  • an out of the box thinker, able to approach issues with intellectual rigor, curiosity, and critical thinking;
  • able to demonstrate the highest degree of personal integrity and ethical standards; and
  • able to thrive in a residential college environment, participating fully as a member of the community. The ideal candidate will be able to articulate passionately and convincingly the mission and aspirations of Merrimack College and the value of a Catholic and Augustinian education that we live by.
  • Able to be flexible and adaptable, work with limited resources, and deal with adversity, change and competing priorities.



College History

Merrimack College was founded by the Friars of the Order of St. Augustine at the behest of then Archbishop Richard Cushing of Boston and local business and community leaders who were looking for a private school to serve the higher education needs of the growing Merrimack Valley population, especially GI’s returning from World War II. Originally called the “Augustinian College of the Merrimack Valley,” the College was built on farmland at Wilson’s Corner, in North Andover, Massachusetts. The first entering class in 1947 consisted of 165 men taught by a full-time faculty of 13. In 1950 the College became coeducational, accepting 11 women. To existing undergraduate degree programs in education, business administration, and the liberal arts and sciences were added civil engineering in 1951 and electrical engineering in 1954. In 1961 the College became residential. The College changed its name to Merrimack College in 1969 and has continued to grow, adding degree programs in the health professions and graduate programs in education, management & engineering and serving an increasingly diverse student body.

College Campus

Located on a 246-acre campus some 20 miles north of Boston, the campus’s more than 40 buildings are clustered around tree-lined walkways and courtyards. An historic iron bridge, which once carried foot traffic over a canal of the Merrimack River, crosses a reflecting pool in one campus courtyard; a labyrinth for contemplation and outdoor sculpture by the College’s resident artist grace other areas. Notable buildings include the modern Sakowich Campus Center, the Rogers Center for the Performing Arts, the S. Peter Volpe Athletic Center, the Gregor Johan Mendel, OSA, Science, Engineering and Technology Center with rooftop observatory, and the historic Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher.

Vision for the Future

Merrimack College’s vision is to be a highly ranked, internationally respected, selective master’s comprehensive Catholic college, which is residential, student-centered, professionally focused and rigorous in the liberal arts, sciences, and business.

We will advance this vision through excellence in classroom teaching and scholarship, diversity and globalization, the development of professionally oriented graduate programs, investments in faculty, the enhancement of student life and experiential learning, the expansion of athletics, and the refocusing of our values on our Catholic roots and the teachings and principles of St. Augustine.

Strategic Plan Priorities

In the fall of 2010, Merrimack College embarked upon a collaborative process of bringing together campus influencers and key leaders of various institutional stakeholder groups to discuss the future of the College, its aspirations, and opportunities. Through more than nine months of discussions, dozens of campus-wide faculty and staff meetings, as well as a Board of Trustees’ retreat, the a long-term strategy was developed with the simple goal of shaping a vision for the future of Merrimack College and providing an overarching blueprint for achieving its success. The plan is called Advancing Merrimack in the 21st Century: The Agenda for Distinction.

The Agenda for Distinction identifies the strategic priorities of the next decade that will enable the College to fulfill its mission and realize the vision it has outlined for itself. The priorities include:

  1. Create a modern, academic enterprise grounded in innovative teaching, learning, and scholarship
  2. Develop a contemporary Catholic mission
  3. Create an intellectually vibrant, socially engaged, entrepreneurial student experience
  4. Inspire and engage our people, culture, and community
  5. Strengthen our value proposition and competitive position

Merrimack College’s Agenda for Distinction sets a bold agenda for realizing our potential and aspirations. Merrimack has the vision, energy, resources, and the drive to bring transformational change to the institution and our students hereby creating a nationally recognized institution that produces ethical, creative, and experienced leaders.


Merrimack College welcomed Dr. Christopher E. Hopey as its new President in July of 2010, and he has appointed new Vice-Presidents for Administration and General Counsel, External Affairs, Finance and Academic Affairs. The new VP of Development and Alumni Affairs will thus be joining a renewed administrative team that has the opportunity to bring fresh energy and ideas to the College.

How to apply :

Applicant review will begin immediately and continue until an appointment is made by the President. Applications should include a letter of interest, resume and five professional references with e-mail and telephone numbers. References will not be contacted without prior authorization from the applicant. The search will be assisted by Linda Murphy, Assistant Vice President. Contact: (978) 837-5131; email: Applications should be sent electronically (MS Word or PDF Format) to Linda Murphy, Assistant Vice President, email: Compensation is outstanding and comparable to larger aspirational institutions. An excellent benefits package is included.

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