The search for the next vice president of Institutional Advancement for Ithaca College will now enter the decision stage after Richard Watkins, the final of three candidates, presented to faculty and staff yesterday.
Richard Watkins, director of major gifts and campaign direction at Claremont McKenna College in California, introduced himself to college faculty, staff and President Tom Rochon in his presentation Wednesday afternoon in the Campus Center’s Klingenstein Lounge.
Watkins joins Nancy Harvin, vice president for advancement at the Culinary Institute of America, and Michael Archibald, former vice president of university advancement at St. Lawrence University, as one of the final three candidates for the position. Shelley Semmler, the college’s current vice president of Institutional Advancement, is scheduled to retire in February.
In his presentation, Watkins stressed the importance of communication. In order to increase the cultural philanthropy of the college, Watkins said, faculty and staff must be engaged and proactive across campus. With a greater involvement around campus, he said he hopes to increase the college’s interest and appeal.
Watkins describes IC 20/20 as one of the things that sets the college apart from others, calling it a “very compelling document to take on the road.” The college, he said, also has an active role in a hands-on education environment that is not often seen in other places with a strong connection to the liberal arts and professional schools.
Watkins said he’s spoken with several students at the college and said they all admitted a love for the local community. He said he hopes to change the fact that only 11 percent of alumni are involved with the college after graduation.
“Usually happy students translate into happy alumni,” Watkins said. “And I just don’t understand the 11 percent of involved alumni.”
Watkins grew up in central Pennsylvania and attended Susquehanna University for three years. He went on to graduate school at Colgate College. He worked at the Clarkson School — an early college program for high school students who want to finish a year of college work ahead of other students — for 7.5 years.
Lisabeth Chabot, a college librarian, said she liked what Watkins said about the college and appreciates his hopes to connect the college’s culture and alumni.
“I thought this candidate demonstrated a broad range of experience, which I think will really make him a positive addition to the college,” she said. “I felt his approach to engaging alumni, engaging faculty, engaging staff and advancing institution is a great way to look at things, and I think he will be a great asset to the college.”