Vice President for University Development & Exec Director of the Grand Valley University Foundation

Allendale, Michigan
Mar 19, 2021
Executive Administration Jobs
Other Executive Administration
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Grand Valley State University

Vice President for University Development and Executive Director of the Grand Valley University Foundation

Allendale, Michigan

Grand Valley State University is a strong and vibrant public university with a clear, deeply held, unwavering commitment to students and community.

Grand Valley was founded in 1960 in response to the need for a public, four-year college in Michigan’s second largest metropolitan region. Grand Valley’s creation was driven by local community leaders who recognized the value a university would bring to the area’s citizens and economy, and they leveraged public/private partnerships to make it happen. Since its first year, Grand Valley has continued a trajectory of growth to become a comprehensive university with more than 23,000 students and more than 128,000 alumni, and more than 1,700 full- and part-time faculty members. Grand Valley attracts students from every county in Michigan, most states, and 75 countries for its 96 undergraduate and 43 graduate degree programs. In addition to its main campus in Allendale, the university has two campuses in nearby Grand Rapids and regional centers in Holland, Detroit, Muskegon, and Traverse City. 

With its origins in suburban Allendale, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan, and its urban campus in the heart of Grand Rapids, Grand Valley has experienced remarkable upward momentum over the last 20 years including enrollment growth of more than 93 percent and substantial expansion of academic programs and campus facilities. Grand Valley is U.S. News & World Report’s #1 public regional university in Michigan and among the strongest in the Midwest.

This is an extraordinary time to be at Grand Valley State University. An emerging national institution located in beautiful Grand Rapids, one of the fastest growing cities in the country, the university is on the precipice of something big. With thought leadership from President Philomena Mantella and other senior leaders, GVSU has commenced a strategic planning process that will inform the university’s development efforts for the next several years. The university has also recently undertaken an assessment of its development efforts and is eager to leverage its findings and position its fundraising operations for extraordinary growth.

Donors and other external stakeholders are proud to support Grand Valley, with many commenting that the institution is the “community’s university” and produces the talent needed for the most pressing workforce needs in West Michigan. There is a culture of friendship and partnership, and donors feel highly valued as supporters of the university. The high level of donor stewardship at the university is the gold standard across the state of Michigan.

Amid this favorable context, Grand Valley seeks candidates for the role of Vice President for University Development and Executive Director of the Grand Valley University Foundation (referred to hereafter as “Vice President”). The Vice President reports directly to the President and is an integral part of the President's Senior Leadership Team. The Vice President is responsible for visioning and leading the university’s comprehensive fundraising efforts, ensuring alignment with mission and strategy, advancing a culture of philanthropy, and executing against short and long-term objectives in an evolving and growing organization. The person in this position is the administrator of the Development Office and associated foundation, providing oversight for 35+ personnel with three to four direct reports and budgets related to fundraising and friend-raising efforts. The Vice President serves on the President’s Cabinet and as staff to the GVU Foundation Board of Trustees.

With a renewed focus on team building and a culture of empowerment, the Vice President will lead Grand Valley development operations to new levels of success at an important time in the university’s history. A key member in advancing the university’s strategic vision, the Vice President will work closely with the President, senior administrators and faculty, Trustees, alumni, and other external constituencies to further align development operations with best practices and achieve ambitious fundraising growth. The advancement function includes responsibility for annual fund, major gift, and planned giving programs; endowment growth; alumni engagement efforts; capital and comprehensive campaigns; donor stewardship activities; and development services.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal and professional skills, qualities, and competencies:

- Ability to communicate effectively and passionately Grand Valley State University’s mission and impact to the broader community.

- Bachelor’s degree in a related field of work.

- At least five to seven years of experience in a supervisory capacity in a nonprofit development role, with a strong record of providing strategic and operational leadership, including creating and managing a budget.

- Strong grasp of and commitment to best practices in all areas of advancement, as well as demonstrated leadership experience in higher education fundraising and alumni engagement. Sophisticated understanding of the need to educate alumni on philanthropy and advance an institution-wide culture of philanthropy.

- Experience in developing the case for support and strategic fundraising plans, particularly a comprehensive campaign, and executing plans to achieve goals and objectives.

- Successful track record of personally cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gifts from individual and institutional donors at the level of six to seven-figures or greater.

- Demonstrated ability in planning and executing integrated, strategic, and innovative communications in support of achieving fundraising goals.

- Demonstrated analytical and organizational skills in evaluating existing programs, conceiving and implementing new programs or strategies, and resolving complex and/or sensitive operational and interpersonal issues.

- A forward thinker with a track record of utilizing new methods of donor engagement and connectivity, who will be driven by innovation in developing philanthropic best practices in the current and post-COVID-19 world.

- Knowledge of and experience working in the philanthropic climate of West Michigan preferred.

- Ability for regional and national travel, consistent with public health guidelines.

Grand Valley State University is guided by values for inclusiveness and community which are integral to the university’s mission to educate students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies, and to enrich the community through excellent teaching, active scholarship, and public service. The university is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution. It encourages diversity and provides equal opportunity in education, employment, all of its programs, and the use of its facilities. Members of the university community, including candidates for employment or admissions, and visitors or guests have the right to be free from acts of harassment and discrimination, including sexual misconduct, which are prohibited if they discriminate or harass on the basis of age, color, disability, familial status, height, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex/gender (including gender identity and

expression), sexual orientation, veteran or active duty military status or weight. The university

will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities.


TDD Callers: call Michigan Relay Center at 711 (in state) or 1.800.833.7833 (out of state).

Grand Valley State University has retained the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed electronically to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.

Managing Director

Practice Leader – Development & Philanthropy

Diversified Search Group

The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, NY 10174

[email protected] | 212.542.2587

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