Director of Development in Graduate Programs
Columbia University New York, Department of Finance and Administration
United States

Position Summary

Reporting to the Executive Director of Development at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), the Director serves as member of the leadership team responsible for formulating and implementing a comprehensive strategy to engage and solicit graduates of the Columbia Engineering MS and PhD programs. The incumbent also holds an individual fundraising portfolio focused on MS and PhD alums and supervises two staff members.


Responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In partnership with the Dean of Engineering and the Engineering Development and Alumni Relations leadership team, the Director implements best practices in alumni relations, annual giving, and major gifts to grow engagement, participation and giving in the MS and PhD alumni communities. This is a cross functional role requiring a holistic view and strategic program management.
  • The Graduate Student Affairs Office will be a key partner on our combined efforts to foster an environment on campus for students that seamlessly translates into a stronger alumni community and continued engagement.
  • In consultation with the Executive Director, the incumbent will develop a new portfolio focused on 75-150 prospects who are capable of gifts greater than $100,000. The portfolio will focus on MS and PhD alumni, or prospects with a specific interest in supporting programs specific to that population.
  • Understanding and advocate for the priorities of the Dean of Engineering as well as clearly defined priority projects associated with various departments and interdepartmental initiatives.
  • While an academic background in the STEM disciplines is not required, an ability to maintain a reading comprehension of key concepts and recent advancements in the STEM disciplines, as directed, is essential.
  • As part of a leading research university, the incumbent must partner with colleagues outside of SEAS, building effective working relationships across Columbia University.
  • Must meet clearly defined performance targets that are aligned with team, school, and University goals. Those performance metrics will include but are not limited to a minimum expectation for significant contacts with prospects, major and leadership asks made, and commitments secured. There is also an expectation of planned giving conversations for this position each year.
  • The incumbent must have a demonstrated commitment to excellence in team leadership. He or she serve as the direct manager for two staff who are focused on the operational components of the team’s development work.
  • As a leader on the Engineering Development and Alumni Relations team, the incumbent must be able to work with a diverse set of individuals in a manner that promotes a positive work environment, demonstrates a spirit of mutual support, and embodies collaborative problem-solving.
  • As a champion of Columbia’s fundraising priorities, the incumbent will originate, oversee, and collaborate on the development of written documents that convey a strong case for giving and engagement. This might include but is not limited to major gift proposals, prospect research, solicitation materials, and reports for executive or volunteer leadership.
  • The Director will be responsible for growing engagement with alumni who have MS and PhD degrees. As such regular validation meetings with alumni who have not previously been visited will be essential. The incumbent must have a demonstrated ability to assess giving potential and strategically engage new prospects.
  • He or she will be asked to perform other related tasks and/or take on special projects as may be required by team dynamics, annual goals, and long term planning. 

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree required; A minimum of seven years related fundraising experience required. Strong proficiency in Microsoft Office a must. Evenings and travel required. 

Preferred Qualifications

  • Prior experience in a not for profit, or similarly complex organizations a plus. Experience with Columbia University structure and cultures strongly preferred.

Other Requirements

  • Demonstrated success in all phases of cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations and a demonstrated ability to establish longterm relationships with donors and prospects. Successful experience staffing senior institutional leaders. Demonstrated ability to effectively leverage the time of senior volunteers and academic and administrative staff in contacts with donors, including strong preparation and good judgment about the extent to which cultivation can effectively be staff driven. Ability to present complex information in a clear and compelling manner, both in writing and in person.
  • A successful candidate will be able to play a key role in the team’s leadership. Some staff management experience is preferred. A clear interest in growing as a leader and manager is essential. 
  • Energy, initiative and ambition, both personally and on behalf of Columbia University are desirable traits. During the course of his/her fundraising work, this person will engage with a variety of individuals including, volunteers, alumni, friends, deans and other academic leaders, faculty, university officers and staff outside Columbia. Excitement about the mission of Columbia University accompanied by excellent written, communication and relationship building skills are crucial. Commitment to strong record-keeping and information sharing are essential. Intelligence, resilience and an entrepreneurial spirit are preferred qualities. Strong personal work ethic and unquestioned personal integrity are desirable qualities. Must have a passion for excellent customer service and commitment to exceptional quality.

Equal Opportunity Employer / Disability / Veteran

Columbia University is committed to the hiring of qualified local residents.

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