VPAAE Position Description & Candidate Profile


The vice-president, Advancement & Alumni Engagement (VPAAE) will provide strategic and inspired leadership to the university’s fundraising and alumni relations functions. The vice-president is a key member of SFU’s executive team and shares leadership in all aspects of the university’s mission and priorities as articulated in the Strategic Framework and associated plans.

Specific accountabilities

The VPAAE is expected to:

  • Work with executive colleagues, deans and others to ensure that the university’s advancement priorities, strategies, plans and programs are aligned with the university's operational, academic and research planning and priorities, and are designed to advance them;
  • Nurture a culture of pride and philanthropy, and implement a sustained and growing fundraising program (including campaigns) that is driven by university priorities as identified through priority setting processes and case development;
  • Provide leadership, direction and coordination to the Advancement and Alumni Engagement team to ensure retention and continued outstanding performance;
  • Provide senior strategic planning advice to identify, create, implement and manage programs, activities, events and other projects and tasks that will optimize the financial contribution from advancement programs;
  • As a key ambassador for alumni and donors, represent and promote the interests of the university with respect to fundraising and alumni engagement initiatives to the internal and external community, representing SFU in appropriate professional, business and cultural organizations;
  • Oversee the operating budget of the Advancement and Alumni Engagement portfolio; direct the division’s budget planning process; analyze the budget implications of operational changes;
  • Oversee the provision of quality support to academic and administrative units, as well as related entities, in their advancement relations efforts;
  • Build connectivity and maintain relationships with faculties and other related units (such as student services, research, etc.); extend advancement opportunities into new areas of SFU not currently engaged in fundraising;
  • Oversee the development and implementation of an alumni engagement plan that enhances the involvement of SFU alumni with their university throughout their lives;
  • Take on other duties as directed by the president.

Reporting relationships

Reports to:
President and vice-chancellor

Works closely with:                                                                        
Vice-presidents, deans and senior administrators

6 direct reports and a team of approximately 60


The candidate qualifications: The Search Committee recognizes that no candidate for VPAAE is likely to meet all the following criteria in equal measure; nevertheless, the following characteristics, experience and personal qualities are seen to be highly desirable:


  • Executive experience leading fundraising and/or alumni engagement for a university or major not-for-profit organization with parallels to the university context.
  • Has provided leadership in the strategic visioning, development and execution of a comprehensive fundraising and/or alumni engagement campaign.
  • Has demonstrated capacity to scale up, lead change management and work in an evolving environment.

Passion for the mission of the university

  • Is passionate about the opportunity to serve in a leadership role for a top ranked university with its vision as Canada’s Engaged University.
  • Is strongly committed to enhancing and broadening the engagement of alumni in the life of the university on a local, national and international scale.


  • A strategic executive who can provide inspired leadership to ensure the university is successful in achieving the vision and goals set out in its strategic plan.
  • An exemplary reputation for providing strategic counsel to a president, board of directors, deans, and other university leaders.
  • A creative thinker able to drive strategy forward in a matrixed environment.

Values based leader

  • An ‘enabling’ view of leadership with an awareness of the need for openness, change and team building. Accepts and provides mentorship and supports professional development.
  • A respectful, positive, compassionate, inclusive, and engaging leadership style.
  • Leads with integrity, transparency, empathy and trustworthiness.
  • Highly effective team leader and team member, with the demonstrated ability to build and work with a collegial and collaborative approach.

Functional expertise

  • Brings leadership experience in areas critical to this role, specifically: transformational major gifts; large scale campaigns; and alumni engagement.
  • Is comfortable with, and accomplished at, making asks of donors.
  • Strategic understanding and experience using technology and data to achieve superior results in fundraising and alumni engagement. Values the importance of using technology and data.
  • Demonstrates understanding of a multi-stakeholder environment with diverse fund development needs.
  • Has demonstrated a commitment to staying current with best practices and trends in development and alumni engagement globally.

Reconciliation and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

  • Is strongly committed to aligning future fundraising and alumni engagement initiatives to Reconciliation at SFU.
  • A proven commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and a demonstrated track record of supporting and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion principles and objectives within a complex organization.

Communication skills

  • Positive, clear and articulate communicator. Able to listen actively, engage in meaningful dialogue, and communicate effectively with a wide array of individuals and groups.
  • Effective at communicating to the general public through the various forms of media and public events.
  • Able to articulate the vision, mission and values of SFU effectively to engage with donors, alumni and the community at large to support that vision.
  • Demonstrated understanding of how to manage controversial issues in an academic environment.

Relationship and trust building

  • Has high emotional intelligence, exhibits humility, and engages naturally with others.
  • Culturally sensitive and internationally aware.
  • Can motivate others and build trust through an open, respectful and collegial approach.
  • Able to develop and maintain highly productive and trusting relationships across SFU campuses with a broad range of people, especially donors, alumni, as well as executive colleagues, deans, students, faculty, staff, and board members.
  • Demonstrated ability to cultivate relationships with the external community, including representatives of the business community and other sectors.
  • Demonstrated ability to understand or adapt to a variety of regional markets; BC experience considered an asset.

Academic & professional qualifications

  • A university degree, ideally at a Master’s level.
  • CFRE designation considered an asset.


  • Is able to see the potential of serving through for at least five years.
  • Able and willing to travel as needed in the role of VPAAE.

Review candidate ad.

Interested candidates are asked to contact:

Brent Cameron, managing partner, Boyden