Special Report: 2015 Institute for Chief Academic and Chief Advancement Officers: Mission, Message, Market—and Money


The 2015 Institute for Chief Academic and Chief Advancement Officers focused on strengthening collaboration between these two senior officers to address shared campus challenges. The Institute theme, “Mission, Message, Market―and Money: the Academic Affairs/Advancement Partnership,” captured the importance of an integrated leadership approach to offering effective and affordable learning opportunities for increasingly diverse student populations. Cosponsored by CIC and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the 43rd annual Institute took place November 7–10, 2015, in Baltimore, Maryland.

The institute is the largest annual conference of chief academic officers of any of the higher education associations. This year, the event attracted a total of 590 participants, including 258 chief academic, 105 chief advancement, and 58 other officers. Participants traveled from as far as Canada, Greece, Mexico, and Pakistan and every corner of the United States including Hawaii.

A large number of recently appointed campus leaders participated in the Institute. “The Institute workshops and sessions were invaluable to a new CAO. The topics were on target and identified strategies to be successful the first year in this role. From each presentation, I was able to take back to campus at least one practical strategy to put in place,” remarked Beth M. Schwartz, vice president for academic affairs and provost at Heidelberg University (OH). “After the conference concluded, I left with even greater confidence to address the daily issues that arise as well as the ability to develop with my colleagues long-term plans to strengthen the academic program.”

The agenda featured leading authorities on key aspects of the work of chief academic and chief advancement officers. In his keynote address, John Churchill, secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society (DC), addressed the enduring value of the liberal arts to the country. Plenary speaker Earl Lewis, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—the major funder of liberal arts education in the United States―discussed the relationship between philanthropy and the liberal arts and his foundation’s emerging support priorities. Sandy Baum, professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College and senior fellow at George Washington University, highlighted recent developments in how students pay for college, including tuition discounting, merit and need-based aid allocation, and student debt trends. Tim Gunn, former faculty member, chair, and dean of Parsons The New School for Design; and author, fashion consultant, and television celebrity, discussed approaches to mentoring and the importance of providing honest feedback with empathy.

Sessions throughout the conference examined from the curriculum and advancement perspective topics such as fundraising for academic programs, telling institutional stories, engaging alumni, setting fundraising priorities, and procuring and managing grants. Officers also had the opportunity to participate in several workshops: Advancement 101; Seminar for Very Experienced CAOs; What I Have Learned from 40 Years of Fundraising; Academic and Strategic Planning; and Dispute Resolution. In addition, the Institute offered an all-day Workshop for New Chief Academic Officers and a Workshop for CAOs in Their Third or Fourth Year of Service. Special programming for spouses and partners of CAOs and CAdOs rounded out the Institute program.

Announced during an awards presentation on the opening evening, Elizabeth H. Tobin, provost and dean of the college at Illinois College, received the 2015 CIC Chief Academic Officer Award in recognition of her support of colleagues at independent colleges and universities. John Churchill received the 2015 Academic Leadership Award for his work at the Phi Beta Kappa Society and as an advocate for liberal arts education.

Podcasts of the plenary sessions as well as slideshow presentations and handouts from many Institute sessions are available on the CIC website at www.cic.edu/2015CAOIresources.​