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Southern Oregon University

Director of Development, Major Gifts


Southern Oregon University (SOU) is a public liberal arts college that has distinguished itself as Oregon’s most recognized regional university over the last 140 years. Founded in 1926, SOU is nestled in the foothills of Ashland, Oregon, and provides a learning-environment where students study in small classes, faculty members use the region’s diverse ecosystems to conduct research, and where academic programs are designed to meet the state, national, and global needs of the future.


The university enrolls 6,000 undergraduate students and provides a career-focused and comprehensive undergraduate experience in 36 areas of study. Pre-professional tracks of one to four years are available in specific areas, as well as master’s degree programs in over a dozen specialties. Classes are also offered on the university's satellite campus in downtown Medford. At SOU, students build strong community connections through internships, mentorships, field studies, capstone projects, volunteer opportunities and civic engagement. SOU and its students have earned national recognition for several innovative programs and initiatives, including:


  • SOU is among 44 universities working to “Re-imagine” the First-year College Experience. Sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the coalition is working to develop transformative changes to ensure and sustain student success

  • Last year, SOU boasted ten programs on the NAIA Scholar Teams list, marking the most yet for the university’s athletic program. Recognition is based on each team’s combined GPA of 3.0 or better for the academic year

  • SOU earned a silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for the university’s campus-wide sustainability achievements

Ashland, Oregon


Ashland is a cultural hot spot, with award-winning galleries, theaters and restaurants bursting from its seams. It is home to the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival and ranked in the top 10 of “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America.” Nestled at the base of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges, Ashland has a reputation for year-round outdoor recreation in the city limits and beyond. It has been selected as a top 10 finalist in Outside magazine’s search for the “Best Town in America” and is a rich mecca for tourism, entertainment, entrepreneurship, dining, and breathtaking outdoor experiences.




The Director of Development, Major Gifts (DOD) is an integral member of the development team responsible for soliciting gifts of $25,000+ to support the mission and strategic direction of the university. SOU has recently finalized a new strategic plan, which will guide its focus for the next five years. Of critical importance is SOU’s ability to collaborate with philanthropic partners who share in the university’s vision to be an inclusive, sustainable university for the future. Reporting to the Vice President of Development/Executive Director of the SOU Foundation, the DOD will cultivate and manage relationships with new and prospective donors throughout the region and western U.S.


The successful candidate will demonstrate an ability to work cooperatively with and in support of foundation board members, affiliates, development staff, and members of the university’s leadership team to move initiatives forward toward private funding. The Director of Development should be an energetic, organized and enthusiastic professional with a demonstrated track record of closing gifts and a strong knowledge of the principles, ethics, and practices of successful fundraising. This is a tremendous opportunity for an enthusiastic professional to be part of a growing development program and to make a significant contribution to the university and its future.  




  • Build and manage a portfolio of 100-120 prospects capable of supporting SOU with gifts of $25K+, helping them to align their philanthropic goals with opportunities at the university

  • Participate in all aspects of the philanthropic gift cycle. Develop appropriate cultivation, solicitation and stewardship strategies

  • Identify, cultivate, solicit major gift and planned giving donors and prospects with a focus on individual outright major gifts

  • Build relationships with donors and coordinate solicitations as appropriate with university and foundation leaders

  • Recruit and engage the President, Trustees, Vice Presidents, Directors, faculty, alumni and staff to assist in major and planned giving cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship activities

  • Prepare and facilitate planned gift proposals and agreements with outside advisors

  • Serve as an ambassador of SOU to external constituencies, recommending and assisting with programming involving the university leadership, faculty, board members and volunteers

  • Work closely with the Foundation board and other volunteer leadership, providing them with direction and support in maximizing SOU’s major gift fundraising potential

  • Oversee stewardship/recognition efforts for donors, in collaboration with colleagues, helping to promote a culture of philanthropy among internal and external constituents

  • Effectively utilize the prospect management system (Raiser’s Edge) to record prospect/donor activity and other relevant data in a timely fashion

  • Design and implement donor cultivation and stewardship events as appropriate





  • Five years of demonstrated successful fundraising experience in major, annual or planned giving, or corporate and foundation relations in higher education or related field

  • Ability to listen and understand the needs and interests of major gift donors to develop and strengthen relationships and partnerships

  • Interest in and a passion for all aspects of education and a dedication to promoting the university’s fundraising priorities for the benefit of the campus

  • Demonstrated ability to identify, cultivate, solicit and steward prospects/donors and effectively move them through the development cycle

  • Experience identifying giving opportunities and thinking creatively to establish matches between donors and programs and funding priorities 

  • Successful experience in making “qualifying” calls as well as developing donor-centric cultivation and solicitation strategies

  • Demonstrated ability to engage and support volunteer leadership with their efforts in fundraising, consultation, and advocacy

  • A successful track record of meeting annual fundraising goals

  • Proficient in MS Office applications; working knowledge of Raiser’s Edge software highly desirable



  • Bachelor’s degree is required.



The successful professional will have or be:


  • Ability to work under pressure in an organized, calm manner

  • Understanding of the confidential nature of fundraising and donor information. Demonstrated customer service experience requiring a high level of diplomacy and professionalism to effectively handle a broad range of sensitive interpersonal situations

  • Ability to work with a high level of productivity and accuracy/attention to detail. Excellent organizational and time management skills

  • Ability to initiate, establish, and foster communication and teamwork by maintaining a positive and cooperative work atmosphere in and outside the university and to build effective working relationships with those from diverse cultural backgrounds

  • Ability to adapt to and work effectively in an often-bureaucratic environment. Working knowledge of or ability to quickly learn university infrastructure, policies and procedures

  • Ability to travel and attend training programs off-site for professional development

  • Ability to build bridges and collaborative relationships across a complex organization



A competitive salary and generous employee benefits package will be offered. To be considered for this position or for additional information on the opportunity, please send resume to or contact:

David N. Randall


Randall Search Associates

415 767 3814

This position is based on SOU's campus in Ashland, however remote work situations may be considered depending on the individual and circumstances. 

Southern Oregon University is a welcoming community committed to inclusive excellence and the celebration of diversity. Without diversity, SOU's educational process would be diminished. SOU encourages those who share in this commitment to join its community and expects all employees to demonstrate an ability and desire to create an inclusive community.

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