New VP of Institutional Advancement


At the end of June 2014, the vice president of Institutional Advancement retired and the position has been empty since. In the span of three months, Bellevue College has found three qualified candidates to fill the position. During the absence of a VPIA, BC’s president, Dr. David Rule, was responsible for the VPIA’s essential functions. According to Dr. Ata Karim, the director of multicultural services, the second stage of interviews has been concluded and the candidates’ resumes and other details have been forwarded to Dr. Rule. With careful consideration, the president will choose the right candidate and conclude the search for the VPIA.

The vice president of Institutional Advancement plays quite an important role in the development of Bellevue College. The VPIA must lead and direct the office of Institutional Advancement as well as serve as BC’s chief development, marketing and communications officer. The chosen candidate will play an important role in leading Bellevue College as an essential member of the president’s cabinet. Since BC’s name change on April 13, 2009, the board of trustees has acknowledged the college’s development as a learning institution. Now, to continue BC’s transformation, Dr. Rule, his cabinet and other important faculty members have envisioned an advancement in the college’s campus and facilities.

The VPIA will develop and execute marketing strategies to complement this vision and make it possible. The approved candidate must accomplish essential duties, which include overseeing and providing guidance to the executive director of the BC Foundation, planning and implementing strategic fundraising to achieve the college’s financial goals, utilizing smart marketing strategies to create and sustain the college’s positive public image, hiring and supervising program personnel and providing support to community relations of the BC president through legislative activities, special events, community briefings, donor cultivation, and others. The selected candidate for the VPIA position is expected to increase the breadth and scope of donor bases as well as establish and maintain strong relationships with a broad range of diverse groups such as students, faculty and government officials.

Currently, there are three candidates that have applied for the VPIA position: Dan Neary, Ellyn Drotzer and Elizabeth Plutha. Each candidate has job experiences and skills that fit the VPIA job description. Additionally, each applicant has had a range of jobs that complement their resume. All of the candidates have led a division in other colleges.

For example, Dan Neary managed fundraising, public relations, marketing and communications at Northwest University in Kirkland. His contributions have provided changes in the school, such as the establishment of a nursing program and the addition of graduate and doctoral studies. Additionally, according to Neary, he “led the transition from Northwest College to Northwest University.”

Ellyn Drotzer has served as the associate vice president of Institutional Advancement at one of the top 10 community/state college foundations in the country. She has had over eight years of experience and has worked for the BC Foundation. Drotzer stated that, “I have a good understanding of what constitutes high quality and impactful messaging.”

Lastly, Elizabeth Plutha has a history of success attracting major donors and support. She stated that she has a “strategic understanding of the community college environment and unique fundraising opportunities.”

These are the applicants who have been interviewed and evaluated by BC’s search committee. According to Dr. Karim, who was one of the members facilitating the interviews, “it is the search committee’s responsibility to gather the necessary information to help decide the new vice president.” The information that the applicants shared in their interviews will ultimately decide who will become candidates to be reviewed by the president.

The timeline for filling the position has not been specified yet. The applications for the position closed on Sept. 23, and Dr. Karim stated that “we have concluded our interviews and the names of the candidates have been forwarded to the president. Now it is on his timeline [as] to when the decision is made, but it will be as soon as possible.” As BC’s 50th anniversary approaches in 2016, the VPIA’s leadership will be critical in the continual advancement of Bellevue College.