Columbia announces new VP of Development

By Managing Editor

Columbia’s ability to raise money may soon see a shift as Jon Stern, an experienced collegiate fundraiser, has been named the new vice president of Development.

Stern’s appointment comes after the Jan. 15 departure of Patrick Sheahan, former vice president of Institutional Advancement, and the dissolution of the now defunct office of Institutional Advancement, the department responsible for overseeing the college’s fundraising efforts.

As reported March 3 by The Chronicle, the college fired more than half of the employees within the Office of Institutional Advancement in an effort to shift focus from event planning to fundraising.

Stern’s appointment was announced July 3 in a college-wide email. His previous experience includes stints as the Dean of Advancement and Associate Dean of Campaign and Strategic Initiatives at Wabash College, a private liberal arts men’s college in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Stern also served as the Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni Relations at Northwestern University’s School of Law, where he oversaw a successful $63 million fundraising campaign.

In a July 3 college-wide email, President Kwang-Wu Kim said Stern was selected because of his compatibility with the college’s mission and educational model.

“I am confident that his extensive development expertise will help him to transform fund raising and alumni relations work at our institution,” Kim said. “Jon is a man of great sincerity and personal warmth who I believe will quickly become a valued member of our community.”

The Chronicle spoke with Stern July 11. He said he is drawn to the opportunity to engage alumni and friends to a higher level and increase the gifts and revenue to the college. 

“We want to really engage a broad group of people to learn about Columbia and become involved in multiple ways, whether it’s mentoring students, maybe helping faculty co-teach classes, but the other thing is getting them to be investors and contributors to the school and advance the mission further,” Stern said. “I want [students] to know that alumni and development is there to help them and potentially make connections. We don’t want to be seen as this office that all they do is raise money.”

Stern will assume his duties Aug. 4.