Getting a Handle on Institutional Advancement

September 20, 2013

We throw the term “Institutional Advancement” around with regularity, but for many it’s a slippery term, easy to say but hard to define.  A basic definition might be pretty close to what you find in the Wikipedia entry: “a division of an institution focused on the improvement of the entity, primarily involved in fundraising activities. It is, therefore, heavily involved in communications (especially alumni relations), marketing, and public relations.”

We’ve been using the term frequently on campus of late, especially in reference to the reorganization that has redefined the roles of Trisha Parker, Getta Rogers, Patty McCray-Roberts, and Mary Hunchberger.  So it’s important that we get a handle on the term and understand what advancement means in the context of our college. 

Building on the definition offered above, we might say that Institutional Advancement for us at PC is about “(Re) Building Capacity” to accomplish our mission.  I suggest “rebuilding” because part of what we’re trying to do is address the painful reductions in staffing and real “capacity to fulfill our mission” that we’ve suffered over the past several years of budget cuts.  We’ve been constrained, both in terms of human and financial resources, in our ability to fundraise, market, and carry on effective public relations, key elements in the definition suggested.  But we also need to expand our institutional capacity to fulfill our mission.  In order to be a truly “high performing” community college, we need to be able to raise external funds to support Student Success, to effectively communicate to our internal and external constituencies what we do and why, to market ourselves as a “Destination College” to potential students, and carry on robust public relations activities that support that mission. 

In the coming months, you’ll be seeing some initiatives coming from our Institutional Advancement group that are intended to address these goals directly.  For instance, as Trisha mentioned this week, we’ll be working on some very focused marketing for specific programs, and Emma will continue to refine and develop our website as a dynamic marketing tool.  Getta will be working with the PC Foundation on some very specific fundraising activities, and Mary will be helping us to build our institutional capacity to deal with change, as we prepare for the implementation of ctcLink.  In future blogs, I’ll be drilling down to provide more specific details on these new initiatives.  I’m excited about the opportunities open to us in the year ahead, and I’m looking forward to an exciting and energizing first week of classes beginning Monday. 

Have a great weekend!