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Job Summary

Note: To be considered for this position, candidates must include a cover letter specifying their interest in and qualifications for this position. The cover letter should be the first page of your resume and uploaded as one document.

As a comprehensive performing arts school set in one of the world’s finest public institutions of higher education, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) is deeply engaged in the creation, practice, scholarship, and pedagogy of music, theatre, and dance. We aim to provide leadership, nationally and internationally, in all three fields. We assert and celebrate the value of the arts to the mission of the University of Michigan. SMTD is committed to sharing values of diversity and inclusion in order to achieve and sustain excellence.

As the Chief Development & External Relations Officer (CDO) you will be the chief advancement officer for the SMTD.  With over 10,000 alumni, the CDO maintains executive responsibility for the design, planning, implementation, evaluation, and management of the School’s development and external relations arms. You will direct annual giving, major and planned gifts, stewardship, alumni relations, and be responsible for the personal solicitation of major and planned gifts, as well as for planning and directing the solicitation of prospects by the Dean of the School. The CDO conceives and implements strategies for the School’s prospects as well as identifies and pursues prospects for the School’s campaign priorities, leveraging and relying upon the strengths of the SMTD Development team to achieve specific fundraising objectives You will also advise, support, assist, coordinate, and collaborate on all strategies with the Dean. In addition, as CDO, you will organize, problem solve, raises issues, and integrate initiatives, solutions, and actions for the Dean. The CDO acts as an executive liaison to ensure successful implementation of all development priorities.


Leadership and Management (50%)– The Chief Development & External Relations Officer will provide leadership and management to the Development and External Relations teams. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Lead, inspire, and coordinate the efforts of both teams.
  • Ensure all SMTD Development team members have a clear fundraising strategy, are successfully progressing towards the achievement of that strategy, and have strategies and goals aligned with their respective fundraising targets.
  • Manage standard human resource issues such as: interviewing, selecting and training of employees; planning and directing of staff projects; evaluating productivity and efficiency; and handling complaints or taking disciplinary action when necessary.
  • Work with staff to set and evaluate individual goals, develop and sustain appropriate training, identify and recommend professional development opportunities for staff members, and assign and ensure coverage of primary areas of focus.
  • Through collegial consultation and cooperation, demonstrate and be a model of collaboration in the University of Michigan development community. Maintain strong lines of communication with colleagues in other academic units, and across the University, to ensure synergy in achieving SMTD’s fundraising goals and objectives. Work with other development personnel in identifying referral opportunities and supporting the overall University campaign goals.
  • Participate in Office of University Development bi-monthly meetings for CDO’s, attend monthly Development Council meetings, and participate in leadership and major gift strategy sessions as necessary.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Fundraising (35%)– The Chief Development & External Relations Officer will partner with the Dean to build and implement a robust development strategy. S/he will lead all aspects of development and external relations for the School of Music, Theatre & Dance with an emphasis on utilizing all resources to further the School’s fundraising objectives. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Develop and implement comprehensive strategic plans for annual and campaign fundraising; ongoing major and planned gift development; stewardship activities including donor and scholarship events; alumni outreach, participation and giving; and corporate and foundation relations and engagement.
  • Proactively and cooperatively identify and personally manage a portfolio of 50 to 100 individual major gift prospects and donors, with an emphasis on gifts of $100K and above.  Identify, assess, analyze and conceive appropriate strategies for approaching, cultivating, and soliciting prospects and making the vitally important selection of the appropriate donor’s interest match with the program and curricular needs within the School. 
  • Conduct approximately 50+ visits with prospects and donors per year and participate in 20+ solicitations annually, and work collaboratively with other development colleagues across campus and U-M Office of University Development (OUD) in identifying and setting strategy for donors with multi-unit interests.
  • Identify fundraising priorities in partnership with the Dean; plan and direct the cultivation and solicitation of School prospects by the Dean, President, Provost and Vice President for Development.  Advise individual faculty regarding securing funds for special projects.
  • Provide executive staff support to the Dean related to fundraising activities including: strategic planning for Dean’s fundraising travel, providing briefing materials for meetings and visits and drafting correspondence.  Partner with the Dean in coordinating travel to maximize use of his time. Always ensure the Dean is adequately informed in a timely manner regarding donor/prospect meetings, calls, appointments, etc.
  • In collaboration with the Dean, senior administration, and faculty of the School, articulate funding priorities and communicate the School’s funding objectives to both internal and external constituencies.  Work closely with the senior staff, faculty and Associate Deans of the School and serve with them in an overall advisory capacity to the Dean.
  • Provide leadership, support and guidance to SMTD Campaign Advisory Committee members and other fundraising volunteers whose goal is to support the School. Develop and implement outreach programming and volunteer activities, including campaign committee meetings and work with volunteers to identify, qualify, and evaluate major gift prospects.
  • Ensure maintenance of electronic prospect files and information utilizing University development and alumni relations database (DART), generating thank you letters, initiating and maintaining communication (written and verbal) with School of Music, Theatre & Dance prospects and donors.
  • In collaboration with the Office of University Development, drive prospect management and related record keeping and communications, as well as prospect research and portfolio analytics. 
  • Initiate reports, conduct studies, analyze data and perform other tasks related to development at the direction of the Dean and senior administrators.

External Relations (15%)– The Chief Development & External Relations Officer will provide leadership to the School’s External Relations team, promoting a strategy that emphasizes the connectivity between external relations in its various forms, including print and social media, to support overall development activities. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Provides strategy on all public relations issues for the School, including events promotion, publications, marketing, media relations, and key messages to support admissions, audience building, and fundraising initiatives.
  • Oversees and influences strategy for public messages, crisis management, major announcements, and overall programmatic direction for the School. Advise Dean on appropriate action steps.
  • Identifies and exploits important linkages between public relations and development efforts on behalf of the School.
  • Provide executive leadership and direction for the School’s alumni relations program, including the SMTD Alumni Board of Governors, alumni communications, and reunion programs.
  • Promotes and sustains a strategy that builds and enhances an overall awareness of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s programs and development and alumni relations opportunities through marketing initiatives, Dean’s communications and media relations.
  • Provide executive direction over the development and production of electronic and print materials for fundraising activities, as well as for continued communication with alumni and friends of the School.
  • Represents the School and the University at designated functions as required.


Required Qualifications*

  • Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree highly desirable.

  • A minimum of eight years fundraising experience with a comprehensive development program in higher education.

  • Documented and sustained success in the solicitation and gift closure at the six-and/or seven-figure level is expected.

  • Demonstrated ability in forming and executing a strategic plan that will leverage SMTD resources and build upon a growing portfolio.    

  • Demonstrated leadership ability over a diverse development and external relations team in a complex and decentralized setting. 

  • Ability to write and edit a broad spectrum of fundraising materials created for a specific audience such as prospective donors, family foundations, corporations, and alumni.

  • Ability to multi-task, attention to detail, and consistent and thorough follow-through is always expected. This includes an ability to manage up and consistently and effectively communicate strategy, planning, and other information to the Dean and other senior administrators.

  • Demonstrated understanding of how to incorporate marketing and communications to drive development efforts.

  • Candidate will be an articulate individual with personal integrity, strong interpersonal skills, creative, flexible, organized and self-motivated, with good planning and follow-through.

  • Ability to use discretion and maintain a high level of confidentiality.

  • Excellent communication and presentation skills, both written and oral.

  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with individuals from diverse communities and cultures.

  • Strong ability to work collaboratively and cooperatively with development officers in other Schools and Colleges as well as with the Office of University Development and a strong ability to work in, and an appreciation for, a very interdisciplinary and diverse School and University.

  • Ability and willingness to travel, work hours beyond the usual work hours, including nights and weekends, and effectively deal with ambiguity and uncertainty in the workplace.

Desired Qualifications*

  • Academic fundraising experience at a multi-faceted institution a plus.
  • Comprehensive campaign experience at a multi-faceted institution a plus.
  • Strong understanding of music, theatre, and dance, and a passion for the performing arts is preferred.

Decision Making Process

This posting will be on the UM job boards for a minimum of seven (7) days, after which time it can be removed.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.