GREENEVILLE – Edward Roberts, a 25-year fundraising veteran in higher education and other nonprofit organizations, has been named vice president for institutional advancement at Tusculum University.
Roberts will lead the university’s robust fundraising activities and oversee a team that also features a development director, alumni and community engagement director, grants and foundation manager and advancement services specialist. He will capitalize on Tusculum’s strengths as he seeks additional financial resources to achieve the university’s strategic goals in line with the institution’s mission.
As part of his duties, Roberts will serve on Tusculum’s Executive Cabinet.
“Edward has a proven track record of positive fundraising outcomes and will be a tremendous asset as we engage donors for gifts that will enable us to remain on the cutting edge of equipping students to be career-ready professionals,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president. “We have a lot of momentum with the excellent performance by our students and faculty, and Edward will be a key player in helping us advance further.”
One of Roberts’ first initiatives will be to collaborate with Belle Kemp, director of alumni and community engagement, to ensure the success of a recently launched $110,000 Dorm Refresh Campaign, which is designed to enhance the look and comfort of Tusculum’s residence halls.
Roberts joined the Tusculum family Monday, May 22. He most recently served for four years as vice president of institutional advancement at Lees-McRae College in North Carolina, during which he attained one of the largest fundraising years in the college’s history. Engagement, cultivation, stewardship, procurement, cultivation and qualification grew during his years at that higher education institution.
Earlier, he served for three years as major gifts officer at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where he provided strong leadership and a successful conclusion to a $50 million endowment campaign. He also spent 10 years as a major gifts officer for Feeding America’s Southwest Virginia branch, where he played a vital role in the multi-year strategic plan, gaining $14.6 million for a regional capacity expansion campaign.
Prior experience was as executive director of the Appalachian Christian Village Foundation and as a unit-serving executive for a district of the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts of America, both in Johnson City.
His service with the Boy Scouts changed his career trajectory by helping him discover his enthusiasm for fundraising.
“Most fundraising professionals tend to come from different backgrounds,” said Roberts, who served as a youth minister and in a family timber business before his former senior pastor pointed him to the Boy Scouts. “The strategy element of having all of our ducks in a row, moving forward with a campaign and accomplishing the goal and then repeating the process with other appeals at the Boy Scouts was a great training ground for me. It opened my eyes to career options I had never considered.”
Now, he will guide Tusculum’s fundraising efforts to provide the facilities, equipment and scholarships students need. He will also generate the support faculty members must have to teach students and further develop their own expertise. Roberts will build on differentiators at Tusculum, such as extensive undergraduate research mentored by Tusculum faculty members. That includes work by biology and chemistry students on new medications to fight cancer.
Roberts comes to Tusculum with a key connection to Tusculum students. He was a first-generation college student, and 64% of those enrolled at Tusculum meet that classification. His grandfather inspired him to pursue a college education, and that altered Roberts’ life in a positive direction.
“Out of that grew a love for lifelong learning,” he said. “It changed my world completely. The world became a much larger place than just Coalfield, Tennessee, where I was raised. The ability to get an education really changed my outlook on everything.”
Roberts observes a lot of strengths at Tusculum, including a pioneering spirit and an eye on the horizon. He believes Tusculum is proactive, deliberate and strategic and seizes additional ways to further strengthen the university. He recently attended a Board of Trustees meeting and was impressed with what he witnessed.
He also thinks highly of the team in the Office of Institutional Advancement. He is thrilled he will be side-by-side with them to share the value of a Tusculum education with recurring and potential donors and other fundraising sources.
“There are a lot of exciting things that are happening here,” he said. “I know what opportunity looks like, and I see a lot of opportunity here. I want to be part of that. I look forward to being involved with a great team, doing good work and then coming back the next day and doing it again.”
Roberts holds a bachelor’s degree in applied sociology from Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, where he also played nose tackle for the football team. He also has a master’s degree in community and organizational leadership from Emory & Henry College in Virginia.