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
“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
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
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
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
The new vice-president will be expected to meet the following
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
- 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
- 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,
- Serves as the staff leader for the Institutional Advancement
committee of the Board of Trustees, and guide the work of that
- 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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Complete
applications will consist of a comprehensive cover letter
addressing the leadership profile along with a current CV and list
of five professional references. Please apply on the
Lees-McRae website at https://leesmcrae.formstack.com/forms/job_application by
the deadline of June 30, 2022.