Fund raisers in higher education, especially those who work for institutions with large, well-established development departments, have some of the most desirable positions in the field. One benefit is the steady stream of potential donors with each year’s graduating class; fund raisers at many other types of charities usually don’t have such a built-in source of new donors.
And increasingly those careers are a powerful draw for another reason: They can lead to a job offer to become a college president, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Fewer than 4 percent of college presidents step into the job from a senior fund-raising executive position, according to a 2006 study The Chronicle cites. But the number of fund raisers who become college chiefs seems to be growing. And seasoned fund raisers, especially if they have advanced degrees, may increasingly be tapped when a wave of college presidents in the baby-boom generation retires.
The article cites a handful of cases, including G. David Gearhart, who was hired as chancellor in 2008 by the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and Robert R. Lindgren, now president of Randolph-Macon College.
To join the ranks of such academic leaders, however, the article points out that fund raisers must excel in other areas besides raising money. They need to be thought leaders who thoroughly understand the academic enterprise and can manage both finances and people, the newspaper says.