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Sarah R. Pearson ’75 appointed vice president for college advancement

Sarah R. Pearson ’75 becomes vice president for college advancement at Bates effective Aug. 27, 2012. Photograph by Jose Leiva.

Bates College President A. Clayton Spencer announced today that Sarah R. Pearson ’75, currently chief development officer of the Broad Institute of Harvard University and MIT, a leading biomedical research institution, will become vice president for college advancement at Bates effective Aug. 27, 2012.

Pearson will oversee Bates fundraising, as well as alumni and parent engagement.

A nationally recognized leader in higher education fundraising who earned a cum laude degree in theater from Bates, Pearson brings deep experience at a succession of leading U.S. universities, including Harvard, Cornell, the University of Chicago and Northwestern, where she served as vice president for alumni relations and development from 2003 through 2010.

“I am thrilled that Sarah has decided to devote her prodigious talents and expertise to her alma mater, and I very much look forward to working with her,” said Spencer. “Having someone of Sarah Pearson’s caliber to lead an area so crucial to the college’s future is a tremendous opportunity for Bates. Sarah is a strategic thinker, a proven fundraiser and a leader widely known for her ability to build and motivate an organization. Her loyalty and deep engagement with the college over many years will enable her to hit the ground running and to represent who we are and what we do with extraordinary energy and fidelity.”

“It is a great privilege to be asked to serve the institution I have loved since the day I arrived on campus as a freshman,” said Pearson. “Bates has shaped my life in fundamental ways, and I now look forward to working with Clayton and the entire college community to help shape its future.” For Pearson, this is a “dream come true. I’m eager to join College Advancement in their important work, alongside the many dedicated alumni, parents and friends who care so deeply about Bates.”

Pearson’s appointment follows a process that began as a search for an interim vice president for advancement, but evolved into a permanent appointment once it became clear that Pearson was willing to be considered for the position.

Considered among the top handful of U.S. higher education advancement professionals, Pearson is one of 10 leaders featured in Making the Case for Leadership: Profiles of Chief Advancement Officers in Higher Education (2012, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.), with a chapter devoted to her as a model “creative strategist.”

“Sarah is a force of nature: she’s smart, strategic, and a highly effective senior development partner.”

Broad Institute President and Director Eric Lander said, “Sarah is a force of nature: she’s smart, strategic, and a highly effective senior development partner. Her departure is a loss for the Broad Institute, but when someone gets offered their dream job — as leading development at Bates so clearly is for Sarah — you can’t help but be thrilled for them. We wish her well.”

From 2003 to 2010 Pearson served as vice president for alumni relations and development at Northwestern University, where she managed a team of 175 that served six undergraduate schools, the graduate school programs, a Big Ten athletics organization and the university’s museum and library. During her tenure at Northwestern, total university giving increased from $138 million to $235 million annually.

Pearson recently completed a term as a member of the board of trustees of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education International and chair of the CASE Philanthropy Commission. She has taught frequently in the CASE Summer Institute in Educational Fundraising, the largest institute for new advancement professionals.

“Sarah…understands the key role of the faculty in helping define a vision for the institution that is compelling in building philanthropic support.”

Pearson has served on the Bates Board of Trustees since 2008, resigning her position effective July 18. As a trustee, Pearson co-chaired the college’s advancement committee and was co-chair of the Bates Fund, charged with overseeing strategic and tactical objectives for the college’s annual giving program.

Pam Baker ’70, Bates vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, said, “Throughout her career Sarah has demonstrated that she understands the key role of the faculty in helping define a vision for the institution that is compelling in building philanthropic support. I very much look forward to working with Sarah on the Bates leadership team.”

Pearson earned an M.F.A. from Brandeis University after graduating from Bates and began her 32-year advancement career in 1980 in Boston, serving in leadership advancement positions with the American Repertory Theater of Harvard and the Huntington Theater of Boston University, and later with Cornell University and the University of Chicago.



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