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Tuesday, January 11, 2022
12:00 pm
- Wednesday, January 12, 2022
4:00 pm
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20th Annual Liberal Arts Vice Presidents Conference

Fostering a Culture of Agility Recap

January 11-12, 2022
12:00 – 4:00pm CST

Year in Review and 2022 Predictions

BWF CEO Josh Birkholz opened with a session reflecting on the prior year and exploring what trends we might see next year. 2021 brought increased philanthropy to education, including an increase from Donor Advised Funds, Cryptocurrency, and mega gifts, but brought more challenges in staffing and engaging constituents virtually. Some of Josh’s predictions for 2022 include more remote workers, the development of staff feeder programs, continued innovation and mass customization, renewed due diligence on gift acceptance policies, and campaigns with bold initiatives.

Advancement Talent: Retaining, Recruiting and Reigniting Teams in 2022

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Deb Taft, CEO of Lindauer, addressed the group on HR trends. Some of the data was staggering:

  • It is projected that 2 in 5 professionals are projected to leave their positions
  • Gig workers could make up 50+% of teams

Other challenges experienced for colleges are the modes of work. Many college leaders want people back in office, but employees are looking for flexibility. In managing, the objective will be to balance flexibility with accountability.

Strong culture draws people, and in higher education, “Doing more with less” may have held our industry back

  • 1/3 leave for compensation
  • 2/3 leave because of culture

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Principal Gifts in the Liberal Arts

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Colleen Garland, VP at Kenyon College, and Hugh Porter, VP at Reed College described their two different perspectives working on principal gifts at their respective colleges. Colleen provided her experience with the recent anonymous $100 million residence hall(s) gift and Hugh talked about two different $10+ million gifts worked on in the past. A takeaway was the importance of willingness on campus to have donors collaborate on the idea. The relational aspect of principal gift work also came through, with the importance of patience at some points and urgency at other points.

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Communicating in a Complex World

Jay Wilson, Senior Vice President of Communications at BWF facilitated a conversation with Sarah Nolan, VP for Strategic Marketing and Communications at Centre College, and Kelly Adams, AVP for Advancement Marketing and Communications. Clearly the past few years of communications has revolved around how particular places are keeping their communities safe and effectively teaching during a worldwide pandemic. Sarah and Kelly reflected how do the messages land, what are the best channels for different demographics, and how to make sure they stay on brand while sharing stories.

Challenges and Opportunities: Navigating Politics with Boards

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Tom Jennings, VP at Washington and Lee, and Heidi McCrory, VP for Development at Furman University provided two perspectives of working with their boards through challenging institutional times. In this era when facing individual and institutional actions from the past takes place, the boards of today find themselves in the middle of the process. Knowing there are strong held feelings on all sides of history, navigating this time with boards is critical to the success of the institution moving forward.

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Future of Liberal Arts

Kathy Hansen, VP for Institutional Advancement at the College of Saint Benedict, Hieu Nguyen, VP for Advancement at Harvey Mudd College, and Wayne Webster, VP for Advancement at The College of Wooster all explored those areas where they feel advancement is headed at liberal arts colleges. Between the issues around staff recruitment and retention, reaching and catching the attention of constituents and staying relevant in their lives, and staying focused when there are so many other demands on advancement leadership’s time outside of the core tasks, the direction communicated had familiar and guesses on new directions.


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This two-day conference will cover the following topics:
  • Josh’s Year in Review and 2022 Predictions
    • Josh Birkholz, BWF
  • Advancement Talent: Retaining, Recruiting, and Reigniting Teams in 2022
    • Deb Taft, Lindauer Global
  • Case Studies: Principal Gifts in the Liberal Arts
    • Colleen Garland, Kenyon College
    • Hugh Porter, Reed College
  • Panel: Communicating in a Complex World
    • Kelly Adams, Utica College
    • Sarah Nolan, Centre College
  • Challenges and Opportunities: Navigating Politics with Boards
    • Tom Jennings, W&L
    • Heidi Hansen McCrory, Furman University
  • Panel: The Future of Liberal Arts
    • Kathy Hansen, College of Saint Benedict
    • Hieu Nguyen, Harvey Mudd College
    • Wayne Webster, The College of Wooster

This conference is specially tailored for Vice Presidents of Advancement/Development for liberal arts institutions. Please contact marketing@bwf.com for additional questions.