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Vice-President, Advancement, University of Calgary

Job ID: 23147

Updated: June 10, 2021

Location: Main Campus

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.

Position Description

Vice-President, Advancement
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB


University of Calgary

University of Calgary is Canada’s leading next-generation university – a living, growing and youthful institution that embraces change and opportunity with a can-do attitude. Located in the nation’s most enterprising city, the University is making tremendous progress on its Eyes High journey to be recognized as one of Canada’s top five research universities, grounded in innovative learning and teaching and fully integrated with the community it both serves and leads. The University of Calgary inspires and supports discovery, creativity, and innovation across all disciplines.

The University has a burgeoning new strategic plan, Growth through Focus. This plan puts the University on course to be Canada's most entrepreneurial university in the country's most enterprising city by ensuring a transdisciplinary focus for our scholarship; deeper partnerships and integration with businesses, governments, and purpose-based organizations in our community; and future-focused program delivery that sees us offer more modes of instruction, modularization, and micro-credentials.

On June 30, 2020, the University closed Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High, a $1.41B comprehensive fundraising campaign. The Campaign was a tremendous success that has positively changed the campus community, the city and beyond through philanthropic support for student experiences that unleash potential; research outcomes that benefit society; and community connections that strengthen its ties. The University has just finished a Year of Gratitude that saw them celebrate and honor the impact of their generous donors and stakeholders. Today the University is setting its sights on fundraising for transformational transdisciplinary projects and programs that are of utmost importance to their diverse stakeholders.

The University is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with four campuses in the Calgary area and a fifth in Doha, Qatar. UCalgary is a publicly funded institution with 14 faculties, all bringing teaching, learning and research to life. There are more than 33,000 students, 6,100 staff and academic staff on campus who are actively engaged in research, scholarship and teaching. The University fosters entrepreneurial thinking across all activities and promotes knowledge mobilization for the benefit of all.

UCalgary is a large and complex institution that drives tremendous value with an annual consolidated budget of more than $1.4B, it is among Calgary’s largest employers, and generates nearly $16.5 B in economic impact to the province. Two-thirds of the university's 195,000 alumni live and work in the Calgary area, effectively building a city of leaders and those dedicated to improving quality of life and prosperity.

In 2019, the University of Calgary was ranked as the top university under the age of 80 in Canada and as #25 in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2020, RE$EARCH Infosource Inc. positioned the University of Calgary as #6 nationwide amongst Canadian research universities.

The University of Calgary has incredible talent – motivated and accomplished students, faculty, and staff – who drive new knowledge creation, improve lives, and better our world. Those who work at the University of Calgary come for the opportunity to make a positive contribution to student experience, to participate in groundbreaking research initiatives, to be immersed in a lifelong learning environment, to engage with and give back to the community, and to enjoy all that Calgary has to offer as a city. To learn more, visit

Location - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Calgary is one of Canada’s safest and most culturally diverse urban centres, repeatedly ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities. With a population of 1.2M, it is also the largest city in Alberta and the third-largest municipality in Canada. Please click the image below to learn more about Calgary. Calgary: be part of the energy: 


Reporting to the President and Vice-Chancellor, the Vice-President Advancement is the senior officer of the university responsible for leading, enhancing and developing community support and engagement across the University. Working collaboratively across the University, the VP Advancement promotes and articulates the university’s value to society; attracts philanthropic support; develops programs and opportunities to engage alumni and the community at large and advances the University’s brand and connection through social media, digital engagement, strategic communications, and traditional marketing initiatives. This position is a member of the University’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT); and the President’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT).

The VP Advancement functions in a highly demanding environment which requires constant scanning for issues and challenges against multiple priorities and demands on limited resources. The workload is significant; the issues are frequently complex; and the partnerships and decisions required of the VP Advancement are critical to the university, its reputation, and its positioning in the community. This position develops and maintains positive and productive relationships with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders including other ELT and SLT members, the Board of Governors, the Senate, faculty, students, staff, alumni, community partners, donors, foundations, and other educational institutions.

The VP Advancement has responsibilities across four primary domains:

  • Strategic Leadership of Integrated Office of Advancement. 
  • Community Engagement and Alumni Relations. 
  • Communications. 
  • Development (including Advancement Services). 

Given the large ambitions of the University of Calgary (spelled out in the Growth through Focus framework), a significant focus for the VP Advancement over the next few years will be on the strategic leadership of the integrated Advancement portfolio, to align talent and resources to proactively seek out and capitalize on opportunities as they arise. Over the next decade, the University of Calgary will see its annual budget grow to $2B, will be universally acknowledged and recognized as a distinct brand, and will have five profit-generating partnership ventures actively promoting transdisciplinary research and impact and be in the top five universities across the country. The University has big ambitions for a University less than 60 years old and the VP Advancement will play a critical role in its development.This is a permanent position with the University of Calgary. 

Specific Responsibilities 

This is a critical role in the University of Calgary’s continued success and growth. The role is accountable for the following:

Strategic Leadership of Integrated Office of Advancement

  • Identifying opportunities to advance the University’s vision and strategic plan;
  • Developing and maintain positive and productive relationships with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders including the Board, the Senate, faculty, students, staff, alumni, community partners, donors, foundations, media, and other educational institutions;
  • Championing entrepreneurial thinking and innovation in the planning and delivery of the University's advancement activities;
  • Overseeing forecasting, planning, management and the effective and efficient utilization of financial resources, including an annual operating budget; and,
  • Oversee a team of approximately 200 staff and 5 direct reports.

Community Engagement & Alumni Relations

  • Developing alumni engagement strategies and metrics that not only deepen and strengthen pride in the University, but pave the way for future generations to become loyal, proud ambassadors of the University;
  • Raising the University’s profile throughout the alumni community through targeted communications and events;
  • Providing engagement opportunities through a diverse array of programming and alumni services including mentorship, volunteer opportunities and alumni recognition;
  • Leading and overseeing community engagement planning and implementation including creating and nurturing partnerships and programs; creating and convening opportunities for public dialogue on important and complex social issues; and highlighting UCalgary’s role as an intellectual, social, athletic and cultural hub in the city;
  • Overseeing a robust events team that plans activities, both locally, regionally and beyond, to facilitate deeper alumni and donor engagement with university leadership;
  • Leading and overseeing institutional events for the University, including building openings, key strategic initiative launches, large celebratory events and sponsored events with community partners;
  • Overseeing the Office of the Chancellor and Senate and work collaboratively with the Chancellor to support university initiatives; and,
  • Working closely with the President and Vice-Chancellor to build strong institutional community and industry partnerships.


  • Developing and overseeing a communication and marketing team and their associated activities;
  • Developing and implementing a world-class communications plan to advance UCalgary’s brand identity, broaden awareness of its programs, priorities and impacts, and increases its visibility across key stakeholder audiences;
  • Overseeing strategic communications planning, integration and implementation including media relations, social media, internal communications, and managing reputational risk and issues; and,
  • Overseeing strategic marketing planning and implementation including an audience-driven marketing strategy, trademark and licensing, digital engagement, and creative services and identity standards.


  • Leading a senior team responsible for securing principal gifts (both in support of the faculties and institution-wide), legacy gifts, annual gifts, stewardship, compliance and gift processing, data and records management, faculty and central-based alumni officers, alumni mentorship programs, American Friends of the University of Calgary and the Alumni Association and associated committees;
  • Developing, planning and executing the University’s comprehensive institutional fundraising campaign;
  • Building, implementing and evolving the University’s fundraising model and fund development plans;
  • Monitoring leading fundraising trends and adapting the University’s fundraising strategies accordingly;
  • Leading a senior team in developing and executing a donor relations program aimed at cultivating deeper ties with donors, alumni and key external stakeholders;
  • Working closely with the University’s senior leaders to identify short and long-term funding needs and identifying opportunities and developing strategies to advance the University’s development priorities;
  • Coordinating development activity (including sponsorships for fundraising purposes) across the University and championing and supporting all major fundraising initiatives;
  • Overseeing compliance across the University with ethical fundraising principles;
  • Overseeing the planning and execution of major fundraising events;
  • Monitoring donor information and carrying out and reporting on statistical analyses; and,
  • Overseeing the system for tax receipts for charitable donations.


Given the role this individual will play in the University of Calgary’s continued growth and success, it is essential that the successful candidate possess the following education, experience, and personal characteristics:


  • At a minimum an undergraduate degree, with preference for a graduate degree.


  • A minimum of 10 years’ progressive experience in senior leadership roles relating to one or more of the following areas: development, community engagement and alumni relations, communications;
  • Demonstrated experience and leadership in leading a complex and comprehensive communications, engagement or development plan that speaks to multiple stakeholders around the globe;
  • The proven ability to create, communicate and inspire a vision, set and achieve objectives, and promote and develop an environment for success;
  • An innovative and bold thinker, with a track record for translating strategic thinking into action plans and output;
  • Strong leadership and interpersonal skills, including not only the ability to lead the Office of Advancement, but also the ability to work as an integral member of an executive leadership team;
  • The demonstrated ability to acquire the resources necessary to support an integrated Office of Advancement at the University of Calgary;
  • Highly attuned political acumen and community awareness;
  • Strong administration skills and experience managing significant financial resources;
  • Demonstrated history of effecting change and leading transformation within a large complex organization; and,
  • A commitment to continuous learning, entrepreneurial thinking, innovation, and the ability to continuously seek out and acquire new knowledge, skills and expertise.

Personal / Professional Attributes 

The Vice-President Advancement is a key driver of the University’s advancement on the global stage. This will require someone with the gravitas and personality to engage and inspire others in a vision and someone who can handle difficult situations with diplomacy, sensitivity, and tact. The ideal candidate will possess the following personal attributes:

  • A natural change agent – initiates and implements support for innovation and for changes needed to improve efficiency and effectiveness (impact); helps others move from current to desired state;
  • A relationship architect – a natural connector, you will build mutually beneficial relationships, networks and strategic alliances (internally and externally) in order to generate new opportunities and gain a competitive advantage for the University;
  • Executive Presence – easily builds credibility and trust and exerts influence beyond formal authority;
  • Inspiring – energizes individuals to strive towards a compelling vision of the future;
  • Manages Complexity – integrates complex information to identify strategies and solutions, demonstrates keen insights into situations, able to clearly articulate the core idea or issue;
  • Creativity and Innovation – transcends traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like to develop meaningful new ideas, forms, methods and interpretations;
  • Intellectual Curiosity – a quick study and a lifelong learner, invests time and energy into learning more about a person, place, thing or concept. Always seeking further knowledge on best practices and leading edge innovation; and,
  • Energetic – exhibits energy, drive, and enthusiasm. Is passionate about making an impact and the cause.

The successful candidate will demonstrate the following professional competencies:

Act with Integrity and Respect

Acting with integrity means to support the core values of the university, to be congruent in what you say and do, to be trustworthy and honest, to offer respect to all people and to exhibit a high standard of integrity in all interactions. People in the organization can count on leaders to “do the right thing”, be accountable and fair and never lay blame. This quality enables leaders to be patient, flexible and accessible to their staff. Maintain a respectful workplace by modelling respectful behaviour and challenging and/or reporting disrespectful or inappropriate behaviour when it occurs.

Envision the Future

Sensing, capitalizing and aligning a focused future by defining the future direction of the organization, and using the vision to guide and align the efforts of all members of the organization. It is the ability to anticipate, and interpret future trends, using decisive insight and critical thinking skills by drawing on background, experience and University knowledge to effectively decide, problem-solve and align others and resources in increasingly challenging and complex situations.

Foster Innovation

To champion and facilitate the development of breakthrough research and new solutions; to bring in changes and new ideas that improve services, methods or approaches. It is the ability to turn difficult situations into opportunities. As a knowledge organization, we need to think strategically, promote creativity, take calculated risks, challenge the status quo, develop best practices, and continuously improve. 

Engage and Support Others

The intention to engage with others to work together to build and maintain open and reciprocal relationships and understanding the importance of leveraging others to successfully achieve organizational objectives. Leaders work to empower and enable others with appropriate authority and responsibility and support their efforts to take responsibility. Leaders have a genuine interest to foster the long-term relationships and development of oneself and others through coaching, mentoring, personal and professional development and supporting successful performance. FOCUS ON RESULTS The drive and the need to achieve positive results and the ability to focus one's attention on accomplishing key objectives for oneself, the team and the organization. This is demonstrated by considering the potential of each team member, ensuring they are in a position to deliver excellence, removing all traces of blame in the culture, and working actively on listening to, and inspiring individuals to deliver results. It is further supported by the ability to facilitate and lead positive change by involving others, committing oneself and appropriate resources to accomplish challenge goals, even in the face of complexity, uncertainty and change.


“We are creating, in the heart of Canada’s most enterprising city, Canada’s most entrepreneurial university. This is a place where leaders are created. This is a place where hard work is rewarded and where innovation turns into results.” - Geeta Sankappanavar Chair, Board of Governors

This role provides an opportunity to join an established organization that is poised for continued significant growth. Other attractions include the opportunity: • To be instrumental in the University’s achievement of its bold and innovative growth through focus plan; • To create a canvas unlike anywhere else, within an institution that regularly makes an impact on the world stage and creates tangible change is highly regarded across the globe; • Be part of a young, dynamic and ambitious culture; • Work with a dynamic executive leadership team uniquely structured to achieve results collaboratively; and, • Build on established foundational relationships and brand in a highly supportive community.

DHR International Contacts

The University of Calgary is partnering with the executive search firm, DHR International on this search. All deliberations of the Vice-President Advancement Advisory Search Committee will be conducted with full confidentiality for all candidates. Inquiries, nominations, and applications are invited. Interested candidates should submit confidentially, in electronic form (Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF files preferred) a Curriculum Vitae, a summary of accomplishments, and a letter of interest to [email protected] by July 5, 2021. 

The University of Calgary has launched an institution-wide Indigenous Strategy in line with the foundational goals of Eyes High, committing to creating a rich, vibrant, and culturally competent campus that welcomes and supports Indigenous Peoples, encourages Indigenous community partnerships, is inclusive of Indigenous perspectives in all that we do.

The University of Calgary recognizes that a diverse staff/faculty benefits and enriches the work, learning and research experiences of the entire campus and greater community. They are committed to removing barriers that have been historically encountered by some people in our society. They strive to recruit individuals who will further enhance their diversity and they will support their academic and professional success while they are at the University. To ensure a fair and equitable assessment, we offer accommodation at any stage during the recruitment process to applicants with disabilities.

The University of Calgary’s comprehensive benefits and pension program is designed to promote productive level of health and well-being to staff members through coverage for health, dental, life insurance, income protection for disability, and retirement income planning. The base salary wage range is established to be between $250,000 and $320,000 Canadian dollars per annum and will be negotiated based on the candidate’s skills and experience. This is a Calgary-based, English speaking position.

Shahauna Siddiqui
DHR International
Suite 725, 435-4 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB, Canada  T2P 3A8
T:  403-817-0999
E:  [email protected]

Sara Garlick Lundberg
DHR International
280 Park Ave, 38th Floor West
New York, NY 10017
T: 646-200-6423
E: [email protected]

Lachie Woofter
Senior Associate
DHR International
Suite 725, 435 4 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB, Canada T2P 3A8
T: 403-817-0989
E: [email protected]


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