UNC Asheville has appointed Kirk I. Swenson as the University’s next vice chancellor for University advancement starting June 1, 2020. Swenson currently serves as vice president for college advancement at Dickinson College and brings more than 25 years of advancement experience and fundraising success to UNC Asheville. He previously held development positions at Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ithaca College, St. Mark’s School, and the University of Rochester.
“Kirk Swenson is a highly accomplished fundraising professional with extensive experience in comprehensive campaigns and high performing advancement teams at a number of nationally-respected educational institutions,” said UNC Asheville Chancellor Nancy J. Cable. “As a values-driven leader, Kirk’s commitment to philanthropy is deeply aligned with UNC Asheville’s liberal arts and sciences mission and history of academic excellence. He will continue to build on UNC Asheville’s record-breaking fundraising efforts last year and to secure gifts to meet the University’s strategic priorities.”
As UNC Asheville’s chief advancement officer, Swenson will be responsible for all components of the University Advancement program and will lead a committed and professional Advancement staff. Swenson was selected for the senior leadership role following an 18-month nationwide search that included over 100 applicants and nominations.
“From my very first contact with UNC Asheville I was struck by the incredible opportunity. The strength of its leadership team and the deep commitment of key volunteers came through loud and clear. The combination of these factors and its compelling mission made it clear that UNC Asheville is poised to leap forward. I’m honored by the trust that Chancellor Cable, the Board of Trustees and the search committee have placed in me and look forward to their partnership in the years to come.”
Swenson will be responsible for strategic leadership and oversight for all areas of advancement, including alumni and parent engagement, leadership giving, planned giving, annual giving, research and corporate, government and foundation support.
In his first two years at Dickinson support grew by 247% over 2016 totals. He has developed the prospect pipeline to support continued growth, which is projected to quadruple to over $25 million this year.
During his tenure at St. Mark’s School, annual gifts and commitments increased from $2.6 million to $15 million and alumni annual fund participation increased from 26 percent to 32 percent. He led the school’s inaugural strategic planning initiative, which focused on initiatives in global citizenship, STEM education and the creation of a center for innovation in teaching and learning.
Swenson served as director of graduate alumni programs at MIT, where he led staff responsible for alumni activities and annual fundraising for more than 50,000 graduate-degree holders. He was comprehensive campaign director of Ithaca College’s $145 million campaign. As assistant vice president at the University of Rochester, he led the team that planned the university’s first billion-dollar campaign.
“Mr. Swenson is a seasoned and talented advancement leader with a passion for developing complex, creative strategies to inspire philanthropy. We’re pleased he will be joining us as our next vice chancellor for University Advancement,” said Rick Lutovsky, chairman of the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees. “We look forward to welcoming him to UNC Asheville as we continue the momentum of the University’s Advancement program which has achieved unprecedented goals under Chancellor Cable’s highly-effective leadership.”