President's Perspective: The Arc of the Profession
It is splendid to mark the first decade of the CASE Europe Graduate Trainee Scheme. In that decade, we have seen a near doubling of donors to U.K. universities as tracked through the Ross-CASE Survey. Though the survey is comprehensive, it may not show the full impact of our work and the entire change to the profession over that time. What we do know is this: Around the world, advancement has matured, and the professional expectations and skills required continue to evolve significantly.
In 2008, I joined a handful of volunteers at the CASE London office at the invitation of Joanna Motion, then vice president of global engagement. From that meeting, the Graduate Trainee Scheme evolved, with a humble goal to prepare entry-level development professionals through a yearlong residency. You can read more about that in this issue (see page 24), but I wanted to share with you why this nurturing of the profession matters to me.
I consistently hear from members that there is a shortage of potential recruits into advancement positions. We know there is limited awareness of the advancement disciplines. The programmes CASE has developed across three continents seek to broaden awareness and recruit the next generation, with these first programmes focusing on fundraising.
As we celebrate the first decade of our graduate trainee scheme in Europe, we also celebrate the fourth year of the CASE Advancement Internship Program in North America, an intensive summer program for current students and recent graduates. These are exciting markers as we think strategically about career development for advancement professionals at all levels of their careers. This work aids in succession planning, and the handover of the reins is vitally important as we think about our aim: advancing education to transform lives and society, so that our institutions remain vital for future generations.
Our internship and graduate programmes particularly focus on building diversity into our profession, a key priority for CASE and our member institutions. It is wonderful, when I welcome our interns each year, to see the richness of society reflected in the faces of each new cohort.
On the other end of this arc, for many, is the gratitude we feel as we look back on tremendous careers that gave us unique opportunities to meet wonderful people, engage in meaningful work, and make a lasting contribution to institutions we love dearly. Fittingly, this year, CASE celebrates receiving its first planned gift. This legacy pledge, by longtime volunteer Kyle Button and his husband, Christopher Aldama (see page 50), will provide resources to CASE dedicated to innovation in our profession. This is an investment in the future of advancement by someone who found a home within the CASE community and achieved success that he attributes largely to that home. This gift for CASE has already had a multiplier effect: Several others who have learned of this generous pledge have decided to remember CASE through their estates.
CASE’s development function is new. The role CASE has played in supporting so many careers is not. I am tremendously grateful to Kyle and Christopher for this important gift. May it inspire many others so that CASE can continue to serve professionals who advance education to transform lives and society.
About the author(s)
Sue Cunningham is president and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which supports more than 3,600 schools, colleges and universities worldwide in developing their alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing operations in order to advance their institutions. As CASE president and CEO, she provides strategic and operational leadership for one of the largest associations of education-related institutions in the world with members in more than 80 countries. She became president of CASE in March, 2015.
Cunningham engaged CASE and thousands of its volunteers in a comprehensive strategic planning process resulting in Reimagining CASE: 2017- 2021, an ambitious and comprehensive framework for serving CASE’s members and championing education worldwide. This volunteer and member engagement extends into a comprehensive effort to refine CASE’s governance structure to more effectively support CASE’s global reach and service to members.
Under her leadership CASE acquired the Voluntary Support of Education survey and created AMAtlas. CASE has reinvigorated its global advocacy agenda and is engaged in reviews of the curriculum across all advancement disciplines and an update of CASE’s management and reporting standards and guidelines, which operate as the industry-leading set of standards. She is most proud of CASE’s efforts to diversify the advancement professions and CASE’s commitment to talent management, within the organization and across CASE’s membership.
Cunningham serves on the steering committee of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, is a member of the Council of Higher Education Management Associations, the International Women’s Foundation, and serves on the fundraising committee for the Aurora Foundation.
Prior to CASE, she served as vice-principal for advancement at the University of Melbourne and as the director of development for the University of Oxford. She served as director of development at Christ Church, Oxford, and as director of external relations at St. Andrews University.
She is an honorary fellow of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a recipient of the CASE Europe Distinguished Service Award, and is a CASE Crystal Apple Award recipient. She holds a master’s degree from Oxford University and a bachelor’s degree in performing arts from Middlesex University.
Article appears in:
Advancing to the top: How professionals from advancement fields found their way to top leadership roles. Plus, advancement professionals share how to avoid data pitfalls, and CASE celebrates 10 years of training the next generation of fundraisers.