Position of Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Lees-McRae College

Lees-McRae College, located in the beautiful Banner Elk Mountains, North Carolina, is seeking a new Vice President for Institutional Advancement to lead a growing alumni development and engagement program. This opportunity, at this time in the College’s history, is one of the most exciting positions available in higher education today.

College history:

“Banner’s Elk”, as the village was once known, is said to have been settled around 1850. By the turn of the century, the Presbyterian Church was beginning to establish itself in the area. In the summer of 1895, the Concord Presbytery sent a young student from Union Theological Seminary to Virginia to organize a church in Banner Elk. In 1897 the newly ordained Reverend Edgar Tufts returned as pastor of the church.

During the winter of 1899, concerned about the limited offerings of the district school which were supplemented only by summer schoolwork conducted by the church, Tufts took some of the young people in the neighborhood to his study for a 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 girls from the highlands. In 1900, a frame dormitory for 12 girls and two female teachers opened after a small amount of money was collected and labor and lumber were pledged. Tufts named its new school The Elizabeth McRae Institute after local teacher Elizabeth McRae, who was renowned in the area for her dedication to education and Christian service. When a boys’ department opened at Plumtree, it added the name of Mrs. Susanna P. Lees, who had been a generous benefactress. The Lees-McRae Institute was chartered by the state in 1907, and Tufts remained in service to 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, phasing out the high school department to form an accredited, coeducational junior college. In 1987, the Lees-McRae College Board of Trustees voted to seek senior college status. In June 1990, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted Lees-McRae senior (four-year) college status.

To complement its four-year college programs, Lees-McRae began offering graduation programs in the early 2000s. 2+2 programs allow students with an associate degree to complete their studies at baccalaureate level. The institution serves these non-traditional learners at off-campus locations 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 Reverend Tufts’ vision, inspiring students in the southern Appalachian region and beyond. The College extends educational opportunities and services to diverse populations and continues to live by its motto – In the mountains, from the mountains, for the mountains.

Leadership Opportunity:

The Vice President for Advancement will join Lees-McRae at perhaps the most exciting time in the College’s history. Lees-McRae is an institution on the move. Over the past few years, the College has increased new student enrollment and significantly improved retention. Its endowment assets have doubled since 2018 thanks to strong fundraising and market performance. Following the launch of a new strategic plan in fall 2021, the College recently announced an investment of $30 million from the USDA to renovate the historic core of the campus. Additionally, the recent acquisition of a nearby children’s home has more than doubled the College’s land holdings and added an additional 100,000 square feet of usable residence and classroom space. This momentum has allowed the College to focus on truly transformational goals that will position Lees-McRae for excellence in the next century and beyond.

To achieve these goals, Lees-McRae must make new investments in building fundraising capacity and realize many of its aspirations through new philanthropy. Over the past four years, the College has made great strides in strengthening alumni engagement, growing its donor base, and deepening its roots in the local community. Due to a vibrant summer residence community in the area, the ability to increase philanthropy here is unmatched by any other small college in the country.

The new vice-president will have to meet the following leadership profile.


The Vice President for Advancement is the senior officer of the College 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 utterly sincere and genuine in their approach to the role and to our constituents. The person in this position must embrace and value the mission of Lees-McRae College and champion that mission to our external audiences.

Essential functions

  1. Acts as a member of the President’s Cabinet and maintains close working relationships with Cabinet colleagues, Trustees and College donors.
  2. Works closely with the President in all phases of fundraising and engagement work, and actively manages the President’s fundraising activities to ensure effective time is spent advancing the College’s philanthropic agenda .
  3. Creates and executes aggressive fundraising plans to achieve annual fund, major gift development, planned giving, alumni engagement, and fundraising goals.
  4. lead it old campaignLees-McRae’s next major fundraising campaign, and ensures that its overall campaign goal is achieved.
  5. Develops and manages an extensive network of committed volunteers and leaders who help the College achieve its philanthropic goals.
  6. Continues to strengthen alumni engagement in the total life of the College, including fundraising, student career assistance, admissions, and broader engagement using affinity groups.
  7. Strengthens the use of data and predictive modeling to inform fundraising activities and improves data management and integration.
  8. Maintains and manages an active portfolio of personal development opportunities and manages them through qualification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.
  9. Leads, coaches and inspires staff towards responsible and goal-oriented results.
  10. Acts as Chief of Staff for the Advancement Committee of the Board of Directors and guides the work of this committee.
  11. Develops a vision and plan for the growth of the Advancement Office that will grow with the College as strategic goals are achieved.
  12. Travels as needed to achieve job objectives.
  13. Other duties as may be assigned by the President.


The Vice President will display a record of development leadership and achievement with a proven track record in fundraising. The vice-president must have extensive experience in planning and conducting a fundraising campaign and must be a competent major gift professional. The abilities to be a good teammate, as well as a member of the team, are essential. Strong organizational, supervisory and leadership skills are required, along with exemplary interpersonal skills.

Application procedure:

Review of applications will begin immediately. Applications and questions regarding applications may be sent to the attention of the Search Committee at [email protected] Complete applications will consist of a full cover letter addressing the leadership profile, as well as a current CV and list five professional references. Please apply on the Lees-McRae website at https://leesmcrae.formstack.com/forms/job_application by the June 30, 2022 deadline.

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