Education, Fundraising and Advancement, Higher Education

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations

  • Bellarmine University
  • Louisville, KY

Founded in 1950, Bellarmine University has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and others for its high academic quality, dedication to students, and community spirit. The university seeks to instill a commitment to lifelong education worthy of its namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and his invitation to learn and live in veritatis amore – in the love of truth. With approximately 2,500 undergraduates, 800 graduate students, and more than 60 academic programs, Bellarmine combines the student-centered focus of a liberal arts college with the breadth of a comprehensive university.

At 72 years old, Bellarmine is a relatively young but distinguished institution. Interwoven in its history as a Catholic independent university is a long and vital relationship with Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and one of the significant interdisciplinary Catholic thinkers of the twentieth century. Merton was a neighbor and a close friend to the university, and he entrusted the bulk of his literary estate to Bellarmine. Merton’s writings on the search for truth, religious inquiry, the nature of humanity, the value of cross-cultural and inter-faith awareness, and his advocacy for peace, social justice, and sustainability align closely with the university’s community values.

Today, the university has evolved from a largely commuter college to a primarily residential university, with state-of-the-art facilities to support the vibrant campus. Students find in Bellarmine an inclusive and supportive community and an excellent and values-based education. Over one-third of the undergraduate body is first-generation; a similar proportion is Pell-eligible. Among undergraduates, 95% receive some form of financial aid. A Bellarmine education is transformative; among Kentucky public and private nonprofit colleges, Bellarmine’s students claim the highest median salary 10 years after graduating.

During the past academic year, Bellarmine made measurable progress on the equity and inclusion commitment that is a major pillar of the university’s strategic plan, “Tradition and Transformation.” The university finalized a new affirmative action plan; conducted a campus accessibility audit; conducted training and professional development workshops across campus departments and offices; launched DEI Faculty Fellows; developed and implemented the Bellarmine University DEI Endorsement; and established an internal grant program to support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives from faculty, staff, and students. The 2021-22 first-year class is the most diverse in Bellarmine’s history, with 25% of the 592 students identifying as students of color.

In 2020, Bellarmine became the only private Division I university in Kentucky. The move allows the university to compete against the best rivals in college sports but more important, it allows Bellarmine to further position itself as a leading private university and share its story with a larger audience than ever before. The move to Division I is part of a strategic plan to expand the university’s geographic reach and increase enrollment.

Amid an environment of excellence, investment, and ongoing growth, Bellarmine University seeks candidates for the role of Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations (Vice President). The primary responsibility of the Vice President is to provide vision, leadership, and fundraising expertise to assist the President in attaining the university’s development and alumni relations goals. Reporting to the university President, the Vice President of Development will be a member of President’s Cabinet and work collaboratively with senior leadership, Trustees, and stakeholders across the university community.

The Vice President oversees a team of approximately 18 Development and Alumni Relations staff, including the following direct reports: Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations; Assistant Vice President for Donor Engagement; Executive Director, Alumni Association; Director of Special Events; Director of Donor Relations. The Vice President will be empowered to examine and evolve all dimensions of the Development and Alumni Relations department in consultation with the President, including the organizational design and functional alignment thereof.

While Bellarmine University will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following qualifications/experience:

  • Commitment to the mission and vision of Bellarmine University.
  • Minimum of five years of progressive leadership experience in higher education development, including experience with individual giving, institutional giving, major gifts, annual giving, planned giving, comprehensive campaign, donor and board relations, stewardship, events, and development operations.
  • Knowledge of and fundamental adherence to the principles, ethics, and best practices of modern fundraising, including the integration of various giving programs to diversify the funding base and cultivate greater donor commitments.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide strategic and operational management, leadership, and coaching. Experience managing budgets.
  • Demonstrated commitment to and understanding of how to build diversity, equity, and inclusion in the development function; culturally competent with respect to issues such as racial, cultural, religious, sexual, and gender identity.
  • Demonstrated success in developing the case for support and in making strategic, innovative fundraising plans, and executing those plans to grow fundraising. Demonstrated experience cultivating, training, building relationships with, and working in collaboration with executives, senior staff, and volunteer leaders on development-related activities.
  • Demonstrated strength in prospect discovery and in building effective strategies to compel new major donor investment. A forward thinker with a track record of utilizing new methods of donor engagement and connectivity, who will be driven by innovation in developing philanthropic best practices in the current and post- COVID-19 world.
  • Proven ability to personally cultivate, solicit, and steward major gifts from individual and institutional donors at six and seven-figure levels.
  • Demonstrated ability in planning and executing integrated, strategic, and innovative communications in support of achieving fundraising goals.
  • The ability to extract and analyze data to make effective, efficient decisions about donor strategy and process.
  • Master’s degree preferred.

Bellarmine is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer and encourages applicants with diverse backgrounds to apply.

Bellarmine University has retained Diversified Search Group for this engagement. Managing Director Gerard F. Cattie, Jr. is leading the search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed via email to

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