What does it take to advance a university?

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After pursuing careers in institutional development at various colleges, Zachary A. Smith and Jon Derek Croteau quickly realized that, often, leaders aren’t adequately prepared for the mammoth task of advancing a university financially. This week, the pair are releasing their first stab at what, exactly, makes an effective Chief Advancement Officer:?“Making the Case For Leadership: Profiles of Chief Advancement Officers in Higher Education.”

“The CAO position has become so much more sophisticated over the last 20 years. At this point, the CAO is often the [university] president’s right-hand person,” says Smith. “The problem is that we don’t have academic programs to prepare students for a career in advancement. So, our whole premise in the book is, ‘Look, we need to do more research on advancement leadership.’”

Smith and Croteau chose just 10 leaders out of piles of nominations. And, by painting a detailed portrait of each CAO, the pair have attempted to provide the first comprehensive look at advancement offices around the country. “I think sometimes faculty have a picture of the CAO as this kind of used car salesman. They see advancement professionals as people who go to dinners, alumni events, performing arts events and are just schmoozing, basically,” explains Smith. “But they don’t see what’s behind the curtain — the day-to-day work of developing strategies and analyzing data.”


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