Walter Williams Named Vice President for Advancement, Effective May 15; Coming from RPI School of Science

By Helen Edelman, manager, Exchange

April 29, 2015

Portrait of Walter Williams, new VP for Advancement at SUNY Empire After a nationwide search, a vice president for advancement has been selected for the college, effective May 18. Ballston Lake resident Walter Williams has been named to lead the development and alumni offices as the college is embarking on a time of change, one of which is the changing of the Office of External Affairs to the Office for Advancement, which will better reflect the work of the development and alumni staff to support students and build connections among alumni and across the college community, ultimately advancing the mission of the college.

“Walter will be a strong and positive addition,” said search committee members.

Currently the senior advancement officer for the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Williams has more than 20 years of operational and strategic experience, having served in director-level roles in the development offices at Cornell and Syracuse universities, Slippery Rock College and Ithaca College.

Key achievements at RPI included:

  • Realized approximately $15 million in new gifts and expectancies toward RPI’s School of Science priorities since 2011
  • Secured funding for one full ($4 million) and two career development ($3 million) professors
  • Worked in conjunction with Foundation Relations to successfully submit to the Henry Luce Foundation for a $500,000 Clare Boothe Luce assistant professor of computer engineering
  • Created a comprehensive and best-practice constituent fundraising program capable of supporting the School of Science’s fundraising plan, while successfully positioning it for RPI’s next campaign
  • Served as project manager for all advancement efforts related to the Jefferson project at Lake George, a $30 million partnership between RPI, IBM and the Fund for Lake George to develop the world’s first “smart lake,” thus establishing a global model for sustained ecosystem understanding and protection
  • Re-established the School of Science Leadership Council, dormant since 2009
  • Served as advancement officer representative to both the alumni database conversion and institute advancement staff education committees
  • Worked closely with Alumni Relations staff to design and implement both on- and off-campus programming to best showcase the School of Science, its programs and key personnel
  • Developed all necessary fundraising materials for the School of Science and supported the development of the first-ever School of Science alumni newsletter.

“New approaches and paradigms are critical for fundraising success moving forward,” he said, adding that “an entrepreneurial approach to institute advancement [at SUNY Empire] is necessary.” He is a proponent of donor research and social media to maximize advancement success. ”It is clear that a traditional approach to advancement is no longer satisfactory,” he noted.

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Did You Know

Registration closes for the Summer 1 and 2 2015 terms on May 8 at 5 p.m. ET.

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Article Contributors

Helen Edelman

Hope Ferguson

Jase Teoh

Tanya Thompson

Samantha Williams

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