Lees-McRae College, located in the beautiful mountains of Banner Elk, NC, seeks a new Vice President for Institutional Advancement to lead a growing development and alumni engagement program. This opportunity, at this time in the College’s history, is one of the most compelling positions available in higher education today.
“Banner’s Elk,” as the village was once called, is said to have been settled around 1850. By the end of the century, the Presbyterian Church was becoming established in the area. In the summer of 1895, Concord Presbytery sent a young student from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia to organize a church at Banner Elk. In 1897, the newly ordained Rev. Edgar Tufts returned as pastor of the church.
In the winter of 1899, concerned with the limited offerings of the district school which was supplemented only by summer school work conducted by the church, Tufts took some of the young people of the neighborhood into his study for further instruction. This small group, called the Class of 1900, marks the beginning of Lees-McRae College.
Tufts saw that this effort was not enough and that there was a need for a boarding school, especially for the girls of the mountain region. In 1900, a frame dormitory for 12 girls and two teachers opened after a small amount of money was raised and labor and lumber was promised. Tufts called his new school The Elizabeth McRae Institute in honor of local teacher Elizabeth McRae, who was renowned in the region for her dedication to education and Christian service. When a department for boys opened at Plumtree, he added the name of Mrs. Susanna P. Lees, who had been a generous benefactor. The Lees-McRae Institute was chartered by the state in 1907, and Tufts remained to serve the community until his death in 1923.
In 1927, a fire consumed the Plumtree buildings, and the unit moved to Banner Elk. Lees-McRae Institute became Lees-McRae College in 1931, gradually eliminating the high school department to form an accredited, coeducational junior college. In 1987, the Board of Trustees of Lees-McRae College voted to seek senior college status. In June of 1990, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted Lees-McRae status as a senior (four-year) college.
To complement its four-year academic programs, Lees-McRae began offering degree completion programs in the early 2000s. The 2+2 programs enable students with existing associate degrees to complete their education at the baccalaureate level. The institution serves these non-traditional learners at off-campus sites and through online learning. In 2018, the college added its first graduate program—a Master of Arts in Teaching in Secondary Education.
More than a hundred years after its founding, Lees-McRae continues the vision of the Rev. Tufts, inspiring students of the Southern Appalachian region and beyond. The College extends educational opportunities and service to diverse populations and continues to fulfill its motto—In the Mountains, Of the Mountains, For the Mountains.
The Vice-President for Institutional Advancement will be joining Lees-McRae at perhaps the most exciting moment in the College’s history. Lees-McRae is an institution on the move. In the most recent years, the College has increased new student enrollment and significantly improved retention. Its endowment assets have doubled since 2018 through strong fundraising and market performance. Following the launch of a new strategic plan in the Fall of 2021, the College has recently announced a $30 million investment from the USDA to renovate the historic heart of campus. Also, the recent acquisition of a neighboring children’s home property has more than doubled the College’s land holdings and added an additional 100,000 square feet of usable residence halls and classroom spaces. This momentum has positioned the College to focus forward on truly transformational goals that will position Lees-McRae for excellence for the next century and beyond.
Accomplishing these goals requires that Lees-McRae make new investments in building fundraising capacity and accomplishing many of its aspirations through new philanthropy. Over the past four years, the College has made great strides in building alumni engagement, growing its donor base, and deepening its roots into the local community. Because of a vibrant summer-home community in the local area, the capacity for increasing philanthropy here is unrivaled by any other small college in the nation.
The new vice-president will be expected to meet the following leadership profile.
The Vice President for Institutional Advancement is the College’s senior leader who provides direction and leadership for all fundraising, alumni relations and donor engagement functions of the College. The Vice President must be strategic, passionate about the College, focused and determined, yet wholly genuine and authentic in her or his approach to the role and to our constituents. The person holding this position must embrace and value the mission of Lees-McRae College and champion that mission to our external audiences.
- Serves as a member of the President’s cabinet and maintains close working relationships with cabinet colleagues, trustees and donors to the College.
- Works closely with the president in all phases of fundraising and engagement work, and actively manages the president’s fundraising activities so that effective time is being spent advancing the philanthropic agenda of the College.
- Creates and executes dynamic fundraising plans to accomplish the goals for annual fund, major gift development, planned giving, alumni engagement and capital campaigns.
- Leads the Legacy Campaign, Lees-McRae’s next major capital campaign, and ensures its overall campaign goal is achieved.
- Develops and manages a broad network of engaged volunteers and leaders who assist the College in meeting its philanthropic goals.
- Continues to strengthen alumni engagement in the total life of the College, including fundraising, career assistance to students, admissions, and broader engagement using affinity groups.
- Strengthens the use of data and predictive modeling to inform fundraising activities and improves data management and integration.
- Maintains and manages an active portfolio of personal development prospects and manages them through qualification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.
- Directs, coaches and inspires staff toward accountable, goal-oriented outcomes.
- Serves as the staff leader for the Institutional Advancement committee of the Board of Trustees, and guide the work of that committee.
- Develops a vision and plan for the growth of the Institutional Advancement office that will grow along with the College as strategic objectives are realized.
- Travels as necessary to meet the objectives of the position.
- Other duties as may be assigned by the President.
The Vice President will display a record of leadership and accomplishment in the field of development with a proven track record of fundraising success. The Vice President must have broad experience in planning and leading a capital campaign, and must be a skilled major gift professional. The abilities to be a good teammate, as well as a team member, are essential. Strong organizational, supervisory, and leadership capabilities are required, along with exemplary interpersonal skills.
Procedure for Candidacy:
Review of applications will begin immediately. Nominations and questions regarding applications can be sent to the attention of the search committee at [email protected] Complete applications will consist of a comprehensive cover letter addressing the leadership profile along with a current CV and list of five professional references. Applications are to be submitted on the Lees-McRae website at: https://leesmcrae.formstack.com/forms/job_application