Heidelberg gains VP for institutional advancement

A native Buckeye, Connie Harris has a professional career serving at four small liberal arts colleges. Come August, she is to serve as Heidelberg University’s new vice president for institutional advancement and university relations.

Harris, of Eaton, is to be a part of the university’s senior leadership team. She is to be responsible for executive leadership, coordination and development in support of philanthropic activities, including Heidelberg’s ongoing $75 million Academic Comprehensive Campaign for Excellence.

Several things brought Harris to Heidelberg, she said.

“My passion for working in higher education has been based on the colleges’ missions. Heidelberg’s mission of preparing a student to ‘lead (a) life of purpose with distinction’ is very compelling to me,” she said. “Making a difference in the lives of others, whether as a professional or a volunteer, has been my life’s work.”

Harris said she also believes in Heidelberg President Robert Huntington’s vision for the school and the “very sound, strategic leadership he provides.”

“Being on a campus is one of the best places in the world. I don’t have children myself and I love being around students. I want to serve with really good people, support the strategic action plan and successfully complete the current comprehensive campaign, ACCE,” she said.

Harris has served as vice president for development and alumni relations and director of the $110 million comprehensive campaign at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. She also served as vice president for institutional advancement at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., and worked at Wabash College and Earlham College in Indiana.

“As a vice president at two other schools, I’ve learned it is most important to understand the case for support for the campaign,” Harris said. “Only by doing so am I able to engage donors with stories that reflect the impact of giving and to ask for their involvement in a meaningful and personal way.”

Harris graduated from Miami University with a bachelor’s of science degree and has expertise in professional development through CASE, AFP Executive Management Institute and IUPUI’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Harris said she has spent most of her adult life as a volunteer and that she believes in philanthropy.

“(Philanthropy) is essential,” Harris said. “Gone are the days when donors regularly and loyally gave without any expectations. Benefactors now want to restrict their gifts, expect measurable outcomes and desire to be engaged in ways specific and appropriate to them. A thoughtful Institutional Advancement and University Relations office will never forget the importance of relationships.”