Ending Your Interim Assignment: Perspectives From An Advancement Officer

Dennis Hunt 
former interim Vice President of Advancement 
Oklahoma City University (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
August 2017 – June 2018

 

Completing a challenging interim assignment, particularly in advancement, can be a source of pride and accomplishment. However, relinquishing control and rendering direction to a new permanent vice president can be unsettling if the institutional leadership is not properly oriented to a “new day” in advancement.

Like other divisions of a university, an institution will seek an interim vice president of advancement because the division is under performing, has staffing issues, or a myriad of major or peevish problems frustrating the president. Just as important as policies, practices and procedures for the advancement operation is the understanding of the role of leadership in directing a sustainable progressive advancement program. While transitioning the advancement office by addressing the issues, making procedural adjustments, energizing the operation and setting a new course for success, it behooves the interim VP to work closely and regularly with the leadership of the institution (President and Advancement Committee of the Board). Working with the President, the interim should set short- and long- term goals, develop institutional priorities, create measurable performance metrics, and, most importantly, establish pragmatic and mutually agreed upon expectations.

Finally, the proper education and training of a president and the engagement of the Board in the advancement program cannot wait until the final weeks of an interim assignment. At the very onset of the interim assignment, the president should be informed of his/her critically important role in the advancement operation and the reliance of the institution upon the president to affect success. The President needs a portfolio leadership prospects, scheduled visits, and discussions of solicitation strategies. The President must be made aware of the importance of preparing trip reports, duties of major gift officers and set an example for establishing personal relationships with key prospects.

Transition begins at the beginning. It is the integrating and melding of best practices combined with dynamic, engaged and most importantly, prepared leadership to produce a synergy enhancing the culture of philanthropy up and down the institution.

 

[Editor’s note: this is the fourth article published under our “Perspectives On Transition” series.]

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