College hires VP for alumni relations/development

On Friday, Williams College announced the appointment of John Malcolm ’86 to the position of vice president for alumni relations and development. Malcolm, currently the president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, will begin his tenure at the College on July 6.

Malcolm joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) organization in 2004 as vice president of philanthropy before beginning work in his current Los Angeles position in 2007. Prior to his work with BBBSA, Malcolm had served as director of development for Swarthmore College since 2001. From 1996 until 2001, Malcolm worked for Bucknell College, directing major gifts and managing the development program. During his time at Bucknell and Swarthmore, Malcolm managed capital campaigns of $188 million and $230 million, respectively.

Malcolm’s appointment was the result of a national search. Mike Reed, chair of the vice presidential search committee, expressed satisfaction with Malcolm’s hiring, citing his background working with institutions similar to the College, his familiarity with fundraising and alumni at such institutions and his experience in the nonprofit world.

Reed, who is also the vice president for strategic planning and institutional diversity, praised Malcolm’s “big-picture” outlook and ability to manage and engage staff. “He’s not just a money raiser, but someone who will bring strategic, visionary thinking to the senior staff and to the [alumni relations and development] office,” Reed said, noting the importance of working with shifting populations of College alumni.

President Falk echoed Reed’s praise, also complimenting the pool of “terrific finalists.” “John Malcolm stood out for his boundless energy, his extraordinary record of accomplishment both inside and outside the academic sphere, and his deep commitment to collegiality,” Falk said. “That he is a graduate of Williams is an added bonus, as he comes to the position with an appreciation and understanding of the remarkable Williams alumni family.”

Malcolm’s hiring comes at the end of a lengthy search process that began in June 2008, when Steve Birrell, former vice president for alumni relations and development, told the College of his plans to retire. After Birrell retired in the summer of 2009, Reed filled Birrell’s position on an interim basis.

According to Reed, the committee had initially planned to find a successor for Birrell prior to his retirement. The process was put on hold, however, when former President Morty Schapiro announced his decision to retire in December 2008.

Reed added that because the College president ultimately chooses the vice president for alumni relations and development, the search committee had to wait until a new College president was named before continuing the search process. “It worked to our benefit because people were more willing to apply knowing a new president was coming on board,” Reed said, explaining that candidates were more likely to express interest in the position given the greater certainty about the future of the College’s leadership that came with Falk’s appointment.

The vice president for alumni relations and development search committee utilized the services of the consulting firm Isaacson, Miller – the same firm used for the presidential search. Reed said that the initial candidate pool included approximately 70 people. Of the initial pool, the search committee interviewed 12 candidates and sent a smaller number to meet with Falk.

“We were absolutely thrilled with the final list of candidates,” Reed said. “Any of the finalists would have been great for the job.”