Vice President for Advancement

Download PDF November 2018 | Needham, MA

The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, seeks applications and nominations for the position of Vice President for Advancement.

About Olin College of Engineering

Founded in 1997 with a major gift from the F.W. Olin Foundation, the Olin College of Engineering seeks to redefine engineering as a profession of innovation encompassing the consideration of human and societal needs; the creative design of engineering systems; and the creation of value through entrepreneurial effort and philanthropy. The College is dedicated to the discovery and development of the most effective educational approaches and aspires to serve as a model for others.

In sixteen short years of operation Olin has had considerable success in creating a “lab school” environment for educational experimentation and influencing other institutions to pursue innovation. Olin has established a firm foothold as both a catalyst for change and a model for preparing the broadly educated, multifaceted and collaborative engineering leaders the world needs today.

Among its many assets are a beautiful 75-acre residential suburban campus adjacent to Babson College and close to Wellesley College; state-of-the-art facilities; a current endowment of $389 million – one of the highest per-student endowments in the country – and 40 entrepreneurial full-time faculty and 80 student-centered staff. Olin enrolls about 350 gifted undergraduate engineering students, all of whom receive tuition merit scholarships equal to 50% of tuition.  In addition, Olin is one of a small number of institutions that admit students on a need-blind basis and meet full financial need, primarily with grants.

Olin was identified in a recent MIT benchmark study as #1 or #2 (two different categories) in the world in undergraduate engineering education. In February 2016, the College received a $6 million grant from the Kern Family Foundation to accelerate entrepreneurial thinking in undergraduate engineering programs throughout the United States. Additionally, in June 2017 Olin received a $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their initiative in Integrating the arts and humanities within a STEM education. The College is regarded as an important global contributor, and now the challenge for the College is to utilize and accelerate that momentum. 

About Philanthropy at Olin College of Engineering

Olin has deep roots in philanthropy from its founding, but the formal advancement program is relatively young. To achieve objectives set forth by College leadership for Olin’s lasting impact in engineering education, Olin requires significant resources. The alumni base and current pool of major and principal gift prospects is emerging but is still not robust enough to support priority investments in the Olin mission. Therefore, Olin reaches outside its natural constituencies to develop close relationships with like-minded people and organizations passionate about solving the grand challenges of the 21st century and achieving education reform.

This moment for the College offers a variety of philanthropic opportunities, one of which is Olin’s thirteen classes of alumni who, though early in their careers, are demonstrating leadership and innovation abilities in top technology companies, graduate schools and entrepreneurial ventures. Another area of significant untapped potential is in corporate relations. There is tremendous opportunity to build relationships with corporations and other businesses whose bottom line will be enhanced by Olin’s mission to change engineering education nationwide. The SCOPE program is one example of a curricular initiative that has resulted in very strong introductions within a select group of companies that have experienced the Olin difference first hand. Read more about the program at

About the Position

This is a critical time for the college, as it seeks resources to advance its two primary strategic priorities: educational innovation within its campus walls, and collaboration with partners around the world to transform engineering education in particular, and undergraduate education as a whole.

In this vein, Olin College of Engineering is in the process of transitioning to a new Institutional Advancement model.  Under the new model, Development, Family and Alumni Relations (DFAR), Marketing and Communications and coordination of Corporate Relations activities will be brought together in one umbrella organization under the leadership of a new position: Vice President for Advancement.

This VP for Advancement will have the opportunity to build an innovative fundraising program within a creative, collaborative, interdisciplinary and student-centered culture. Serving on the senior leadership team (President’s Cabinet), this position will fulfill a key partnership role with the President including working with the Board of Trustees Governance Committee to identify and cultivate prospective Trustees. The VP for Advancement will serve as a top philanthropic advisor to the President, in addition to playing a significant role in enhancing the Olin brand by providing strategic direction in the areas of marketing and communications, as well as supporting the pedagogy of the Olin educational method.

This position will provide leadership for the 11 staff in the departments of Development, Family and Alumni Relations and Marketing and Communications, and those throughout Olin who have corporate relations responsibilities. This position will also be responsible for building strong support from, and lasting relationships with, a wide variety of constituencies including alumni, parents, donors and friends, private foundations, corporate partners, community members and others.

In the first few months of joining Olin, the VP for Advancement will be responsible for conducting a comprehensive assessment of the advancement function and presenting recommendations for new goal setting and achievement.

Key Responsibilities


  • Development and implementation of fundraising strategies and programs
  • Management of a portfolio of prospective individual major donors, including identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship
  • Management of a portfolio of private foundations and corporations, including identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship
  • Continuing the record of a successful Annual Fund program with very high participation rates
  • Ensuring that fundraising messaging and materials with key constituencies is consistent and aligned with institutional goals and fundraising priorities.

Leadership and Management

  • Serve as primary liaison to the Board of Trustees Development and Governance Committees
  • Work closely with the Trustee Development Committee, President, and Director of Development, to set fundraising priorities; develop and implement fundraising strategies; identify, cultivate and solicit major donors and strengthen the overall fundraising program and related activities
  • Collaborate with other members of the President’s Cabinet in the overall management of the College and the integration of the development, parent and alumni programs with the needs and limitations of other areas of the College
  • Support the DFAR staff in their work developing and delivering programs and activities that foster parent and alumni engagement with the College
  • Assess staffing needs within the Advancement areas and add skillsets as needed

Marketing and Communications

  • Plan and manage the over-arching marketing and public relations activities and events in support of the College’s strategic objectives and enhancement of the brand and image of the College
  • Partner closely with the Marketing and Communications staff, key College senior leadership, Academic Life and program offices to identify core brand messages and disseminate to corporate leaders, alumni, and other external constituencies
  • Oversee the creation of all externally focused marketing collateral to ensure that the College presents an accurate and coordinated message and story to constituents and the public
  • Support the Marketing and Communications staff in their work providing editorial, creative and multimedia resources to all departments within Olin including, but not limited to, Admission and Financial Aid
  • Oversee the media relations efforts within Marketing and Communications to ensure the earned media strategy meets its goals
  • Develop opportunities for the President to present Olin’s mission and vision to corporate, foundation and philanthropic thought leaders

Corporate Relations

  • Coordinate the activities of Olin staff and faculty as they relate to major corporate partners. This group currently includes representatives from the SCOPE Program, Post Graduate Planning (PGP), DFAR, Sponsored Programs, President’s Office, Collaboratory, faculty and others.
  • Oversee the development and implementation of a coordinated set of cultivation activities, programs, engagement opportunities, and other activities for major corporate partners.

Key Qualifications


  • A minimum of 10 years of advancement experience in a complex institution, with 7+ years leading an advancement or fundraising program
  • Proven record of securing 6-7 figure gifts from individual and corporate donors
  • Track record of engaging donors not directly affiliated with an institution around a visionary mission.
  • Experience in developing and implementing successful and high-level organizational marketing, media, and communications programs
  • Significant staff management background
  • Evidence of strategic leadership role designing and implementing solid advancement processes and programs for future success
  • Success in building strong personal relationships with Trustees and senior leadership team members, experience with Board development and management
  • Diplomatic, engaging style and a strategic mindset and perspective. A willingness to experiment and collaborate in an interdisciplinary environment
  • Exceptional “emotional intelligence” and ability to empathize, understand and listen to important stakeholders in order to deeply “hear” the interests, passions and concerns of different stakeholders, including Trustees and donors, but also faculty, staff and students
  • Creative problem-solving skills and track record of generating support in an interdisciplinary culture of innovation, experimentation and collaboration
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
  • Passion for Olin’s mission and enthusiasm for reinventing the engineering education to produce more innovators
  • Prior experience in complex research and/or think tank institutions is highly preferred

Qualifications of added value

  • Higher education fundraising experience
  • Direct experience in conceiving, planning, staffing, and executing a successful campaign
  • Successful development experience engaging prospects and soliciting gifts for an organization with a small natural affinity group (e.g. without a large alumni base, religious affiliation, etc.)
  • Experience in budget management and planning for a complex advancement program
  • Demonstrated ability to be successful during leadership transitions

In accordance with its own values and with federal and state regulations, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, gender, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, disabled veteran status, veteran of the Vietnam Era status, marital or citizenship status (except in those special circumstances permitted or mandated by law).

Please email your cover letter and resume in confidence to:

William Weber
Development Guild DDI

Tracy Marshall
Senior Vice President and Principal
Development Guild DDI

Development Guild DDI is a proud member of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Council.

To learn more visit the AESC website and read Our Search Standards.


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