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Position Profile

The Opportunity

Reporting to the Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, the Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement leads the Office of Alumni Engagement and a program that has recently experienced significant growth and positive changes. Highlights include new staff in several new positions, additional resources to enhance programs, and the decision to move to a dues-free alumni association model.

The AVP is an innovative alumni relations expert who will continue to build on a solid foundation, while providing vision and leadership to catapult the university’s alumni program to its fullest potential. The individual filling this position has complete and active support from University President Satish K. Tripathi and Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement Nancy L. Wells, as well as a high level of commitment from a loyal cadre of alumni board leaders, volunteers and university partners across campus.

The culture of the Office of Alumni Engagement is one of strategic goals and measured outcomes. A team of 17 staff members embodies a strong service mentality focused on providing value to alumni as well as campus partners.

The ideal AVP candidate is highly analytical, bringing a strong knowledge of industry best practices and a keen grasp and appreciation of metrics in shaping a forward-thinking and premier alumni engagement program. Leading the university team that supports UB alumni, the AVP creates plans for deepening engagement in key markets: currently four domestic and six international regions. The Office of Alumni Engagement’s future goals include enhancing young alumni and career services programs, areas identified as assets with untapped potential for growth.

The ideal candidate has a strong track record in recruiting, inspiring and working alongside volunteers. The AVP collaborates closely with members of the UB Alumni Association Board of Directors to increase influence across campus. In tandem with volunteer leadership, the AVP is a valued participant in the university’s strategic planning efforts and will strive to deepen solid relationships with all university senior decision makers, raising the profile of the UB Alumni Association and its sphere of influence.

The AVP is an integral member of the Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement’s leadership team and plays a pivotal role in shaping a new culture for the Division, one that supports intelligent risk taking and embraces innovation. He or she will benefit from a fun, friendly and energetic workplace environment in a burgeoning region receiving national attention for its economic renaissance. UB is viewed as a primary economic driver of this change, as well as the premier employer in the Buffalo Niagara region.

The Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement plays a very important role as he or she joins the respected and highly visible Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement team, on the path of realizing its full potential. The AVP has the opportunity to make a significant mark at this highly regarded global research university where “the best is yet to come.” 

Position Overview – Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement

As senior officer responsible for the University at Buffalo’s alumni programs and activities, the Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement provides creative leadership and overall managerial direction to the Office of Alumni Engagement for purposes of informing and engaging more than 240,000 alumni with the university. The AVP also provides strategic direction and leadership across the academic units to leverage university-wide alumni engagement resources for maximum impact. The AVP’s primary role is to build relationships that result in volunteer service and philanthropic support for the university. Working with the UB Alumni Association, he or she initiates activities that maximize alumni outreach and engagement through UB Alumni Association communications, programs and services. The AVP creates and leads strategic efforts to sustain commitment and participation among alumni.

The AVP works collaboratively with the UB Alumni Association Board to formulate policies, goals, objectives, programs and procedures. Other key responsibilities include administrative and financial management of the Office of Alumni Engagement, program and staff evaluations, oversight of effective communications programs with UB alumni, and serving as a university liaison to domestic and international target markets. As leader of the Office of Alumni Engagement, the AVP and his/her team provide strong support for the UB Alumni Association Board both administratively and functionally. In conjunction with university and volunteer leaders, the AVP is tasked with growing a program based on best practices in the field and market-informed approaches to alumni engagement.  

Recognizing the ever-increasing importance and role of its alumni in the present and future of UB, the AVP is expected to implement and enhance a comprehensive university-wide alumni program that both meets the needs of alumni and assists the university (and its 12 academic units) in realizing the long-term vision. Reporting to the Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, the AVP is a member of the division’s senior leadership team. 

 

Duties and Responsibilities

The University at Buffalo seeks to develop strong and enduring ties with its 240,000-plus alumni throughout the world. The AVP plays a leading role in these efforts. This position requires extensive travel, along with the ability and willingness to work evenings and weekends. Responsibilities include:

Leadership and Development (40%)

  • Provide leadership and direction to the Office of Alumni Engagement and its professional staff;
  • Work collaboratively with and provide support to the Alumni Association Board of Directors;
  • Collaborate with the university’s deans, vice presidents and other leaders to plan and coordinate effective outreach and engagement activities for alumni and future alumni (students);
  • Develop, implement and enhance a comprehensive alumni engagement program that meets the needs of alumni and assists the university in realizing its long-term goals and objectives including, but not limited to maximizing philanthropic support, providing experiential learning opportunities for students and enhancing outreach efforts to prospective students;
  • Develop and monitor a strategic plan for the Office of Alumni Engagement and, in collaboration with alumni colleagues in the academic units, a broad-based plan for all alumni engagement activities of the university;
  • Provide strategic direction and leadership across the academic units to leverage university-wide alumni engagement resources for maximum impact;
  • Serve as a senior member of the Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement leadership team.

Volunteer Relations (30%)

  • Collaborate with the UB Alumni Association Board to develop and monitor a strategic plan, setting both short- and long-term goals, objectives and strategies;
  • Serve as the principal university liaison with the Alumni Association Board and provide leadership in overall management of volunteer recruitment, training and stewardship of Alumni Association board members;
  • Provide administrative and functional support to the UB Alumni Association Board and serve as Secretary to that organization.
  • Function as a key university liaison to national and international chapters of the UB Alumni Association.

Operations, Communications and Fund Development (30%)

  • Oversee an effective communications and marketing strategy for UB alumni and ensure the efficient delivery of programs and events, nationally and internationally, focusing the application of resources on markets of greatest potential;
  • Serve as publisher of the alumni magazine, At Buffalo, and establish and maintain its strategic direction in collaboration with the vice presidents for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement and University Communications;
  • Enhance fund-raising efforts of the university by developing a strong pipeline of engaged alumni to support the annual fund goals of increased participation and growth in philanthropic revenues;
  • Maintain a portfolio of leadership annual giving prospects, including but not limited to alumni board members, make solicitations, cultivate relationships, and secure gifts;
  • Continually benchmark existing peer alumni programs and develop quantitative measures for success;
  • Evaluate existing programs and activities based upon cost, effectiveness and outcomes using recently established goals and metrics, and develop new programs as necessary.
 

Reporting Relationships

Supervisory: The AVP reports to the Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement.

Functional:   The AVP works with the central and school/unit based philanthropy staff; faculty and staff including deans and alumni officers in the academic units; and directors of such university units as the Office of Admissions, Athletics, and Career Services. The AVP also works closely with the President, Provost and vice presidents, as well as the university’s alumni volunteer leadership, including officers of the UB Alumni Association and members of the UB Alumni Association executive committee and board. 

President Satish K. Tripathi and the Vision for the Future of the University at Buffalo

Internationally recognized as an accomplished researcher and transformative higher education leader, Satish K. Tripathi was appointed the 15th president of the University at Buffalo in 2011.

The first international-born president in UB’s history, President Tripathi graduated at the top of his class from Banaras Hindu University in India. In addition to a doctorate in computer science from the University of Toronto, he holds three master's degrees—one in computer science from the University of Toronto and two in statistics from the University of Alberta and Banaras Hindu University.

In 1978, Tripathi joined the faculty of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, where his 19-year tenure included serving as chair from 1988-95. While on sabbatical at the University of Maryland, he also held visiting professorships at the University of Paris-Sud in France and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. From 1997-2004, Tripathi served as dean of the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California-Riverside, where he nearly quadrupled the number of students and tripled the number of faculty at that institution and led its rise from an unranked program to a position in the upper half of the U.S. News and World Report Best Engineering Graduate Schools rankings.

Satish Tripathi joined the University at Buffalo in 2004, serving as UB’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. As Provost, Tripathi led the recruitment of many prominent faculty to the university and oversaw a significant increase in the number of faculty hired to develop and enhance strengths in key areas of research and scholarly activity. As a result, the university achieved substantial increases in research expenditures and federally awarded research grants, putting UB in league with the top national research universities in the United States. Under Tripathi’s leadership, the academic profile of UB’s undergraduate and graduate students also has improved significantly. He led a number of efforts to enrich the educational experiences of UB undergraduate students by introducing programs designed to provide them with opportunities to engage in learning and research with UB’s top faculty. He also oversaw the development of innovative “living-learning environments” constructed as part of “Building UB,” the university’s comprehensive physical plan.

Satish Tripathi led a strategic planning process for UB’s international programs that has led to significant expansion of the university’s international presence and the continued globalization of its three Western New York campuses. He signed a memorandum of understanding in 2005 with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to establish the Indo-U.S. Inter-University Collaborative Initiative in Higher Education and Research, which has led to a significant partnership between UB and Amrita University. UB’s educational programs in Singapore, in partnership with the Singapore Institute of Management, also have experienced significant growth under Tripathi’s leadership.

Satish Tripathi was one of the principal creators of the UB 2020 long-range academic plan, and has led the university to achieve significant growth in research and scholarly activity, enhanced student quality and diversity, and an expanded international presence. Building on this strong foundation, Tripathi’s vision for UB’s future focuses on moving the university into the highest ranks of the nation’s leading research universities through expanding its reach and impact locally as well as globally.

The University at Buffalo continues to experience a remarkable era of growth, progress, and innovation under Satish Tripathi’s leadership. Within his first year as president, the university celebrated a number of major milestones, including the passage of the NYSUNY 2020 legislation that has led to historic reforms for UB and the SUNY system of public higher education. Since he assumed the presidency in 2011, the university has opened five major building projects on its three campuses, celebrated a $40 million bequest that is the largest gift in university history, and is building a new medical school downtown that will be the hub of a thriving life sciences community in Buffalo. The university also recently received designation as a New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics, positioning the university at the forefront of the rapidly expanding field of advanced materials.

Overview: UB Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement

The Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement creates meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships between UB and its alumni and donors (alumni, friends, faculty and staff, parents, foundations, corporations, and organizations) by offering opportunities that match personal or philanthropic objectives with university initiatives. The division is helping create a new UB environment that broadens opportunities for alumni engagement, capitalizes on positive student experiences and builds philanthropic support for the university.

Staff numbering almost 140 are organized into four major categories of activity: front-line fund-raisers or gift officers deployed to schools who raise money in support of deans’ priorities and initiatives; centrally managed fund-raising staff, such as gift planning, corporate and foundation relations and annual giving officers; and alumni engagement officers, who work to connect UB’s alumni around the world with the university. A team of operations staff members also is employed to provide infrastructure and back-room support to the entire division.

The Division is planning its next major comprehensive campaign. Active campaign efforts are underway in the Law School and the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, with goals of $30 million and $200 million respectively.

UB Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement Leadership

Nancy L. Wells began her tenure as Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement at the University at Buffalo in March 2012.

As a member of UB’s leadership team, Wells helps to foster a culture of philanthropy vital to enhancing the university's mission of excellence. Her work also is focused on leading efforts to successfully engage with more than 240,000 alumni worldwide. In her role, she serves as UB’s chief philanthropy and alumni engagement officer, and works closely with President Satish K. Tripathi and other university leaders and volunteers.

Her career entails more than 30 years of fund-raising and alumni relations experience at the leadership level, including at Stanford University and McGill University in Montreal – which, like UB, are member institutions of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU).

Wells’ career experience also includes work as vice president of development at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, and director of development for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest repertory theater in the United States based in Ashland, Oregon.

Wells holds a B.A. degree in sociology from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (formerly North Adams State College) and an M.S.Ed. degree in college student personnel administration from Indiana University.

Office of Alumni Engagement

The Office of Alumni Engagement works to serve UB alumni and engage them worldwide in the life of the university. Offering services ranging from career networking and transition services, to hosting events across the globe, the office strives to connect alumni with one another and with the university. The Office of Alumni Engagement is establishing itself as an effective tool for all members of the UB community to better connect with UB's alumni, and is a proactive agent for institutional advancement, playing an important role in career services, student recruitment and donor and government relations. The Office of Alumni Engagement works collaboratively with and supports the UB Alumni Association Board of Directors in their mutual efforts to engage alumni.

Alumni engagement staff work collaboratively with gift officer colleagues to ensure effective communication with all alumni from graduation and beyond.

Key Program Components

  • Regional chapters in New York City, Rochester, N.Y., Washington, D.C., and eight other U.S. cities
  • International chapters in Canada, China, India, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and six other countries
  • Career networking and transition services
  • Programs geared toward young alumni and future alumni (student) leaders
  • Alumni communications: At Buffalo, alumni website www.alumni.buffalo.edu, @UB—monthly e-newsletter, UB Connect—alumni online community, and social networks
  • Recruitment of alumni to serve as UB Alumni Ambassadors to assist with student recruitment, career mentoring, legislative action committees and other volunteer engagement and advocacy opportunities
  • Support of UB Bulls athletic teams through alumni events across the country
  • Alumni awards and recognition programs, including the signature UB Alumni Association Achievement Awards
  • UB Alumni Association scholarships
 

School-based Alumni Engagement Officers

In addition to the university’s Office of Alumni Engagement, each of the academic units has staff, who report to the dean, responsible for school-based alumni engagement activities. In order to present a unified alumni engagement effort to external constituents, the Office of Alumni Engagement acts as a partner to these unit-based alumni officers.

The goal of all alumni engagement, whether school-based or from the Office of Alumni Engagement, is to build lasting relationships with alumni that keep them engaged in the life of the university after graduation. To that end, school-based alumni officers foster alumni engagement through events, volunteer opportunities, communication and continuing education. Many schools also offer programming for current students to begin building affinity and instilling the concept of staying connected earlier rather than later.

Alumni officers meet regularly with the Office of Alumni Engagement to share ideas and best practices.

Many of the schools also rely on the Office of Alumni Engagement to facilitate e-communication and for guidance on overall alumni efforts.

UB Alumni Association

Providing support and services to alumni is the mission of the UB Alumni Association. The association creates and promotes lifelong bonds with UB’s graduates and works to inspire them to care about the past, present and future of the university. The UB Alumni Association actively works to support the university and help UB take its place among America’s great public research universities.

The UB Alumni Association is a volunteer-led international organization that provides services, support, benefits and programs to alumni around the world. The composition of the Board is diverse, with representatives from a variety of constituent schools as well as local, regional, national and international locations where UB alumni reside. Recently, the association made the decision to move away from a dues-paying membership organization. The Association seeks to build an atmosphere of pride, spirit and tradition, and provide easy and valuable ways for alumni to build and maintain connections with each other and the university.

The current strategic plan of the UB Alumni Association sets forth the following critical objectives:

  1. Building Board Influence: to develop the UB Alumni Association Board as a trusted advisor and consultant to university leadership, and to serve as high-profile community ambassadors where we live and work;
  2. Fueling Alumni Pride: to increase alumni engagement by celebrating the accomplishments of the university, the faculty, students, athletic teams, and its alumni;
  3. Engaging Young Alumni and Future Alumni Leaders: to establish a new generation of engaged alumni by providing value that encourages sustained involvement with UB;
  4. Enhancing Alumni Careers: to provide services, support, and networking to alumni throughout every stage of their careers;
  5. Recruiting Students to UB: to establish alumni networks in all of its focus markets that encourage the best high school students to select UB.

The UB Alumni Association is governed by a board of directors comprising alumni from all over the world. The association has 12 regional chapters in the U.S. and 12 international chapters around the world that bring UB alumni together to network and share UB memories.