Editor’s note: Lori has resigned from AU to pursue other opportunities. Her last day is June 25. Pamela Walsh will be acting as interim VP Advancement.
Lori Van Rooijen is the Vice President, Advancement at Athabasca University. In this role, she is ?in charge of a team of professionals who look after internal and external communications (including media and the university web site), government relations, student recruitment and marketing, and alumni relations.?
She is also responsible for ?fund development for both the university in general and for specific areas and programs. That entails fund development in the private sector and we’re also responsible for securing funding from a number of government sources, programs and departments.? Van Rooijen also sits on the university’s executive, which as a whole is responsible for ?both the day-to-day operations of the institution, the budget and medium- and long-term planning.?
?In any given day, I will meet with some or all of my staff, the president or other executive members to discuss projects, what is working and what is not, and together we make decisions on where to go next,? she says. ?We have many large projects on the go at any given time, ranging from restructuring our web presence to developing new creative for our next advertising campaign to planning for our fund raising campaign . . . There is much work to keep us all busy.?
?Advancement is relatively new at AU,? Van Rooijen explains. ?We came together about four years ago. There are quite a number of accomplishments by our people over that short time, though. In the past year alone, we’ve won two awards in the communications area, a Gold MarCom award for our Open magazine online and a Platinum Hermes award for our new recruitment video, which is available on our main webpage.?
?I’m particularly proud of our Stand Out advertising campaign,? she says, ?which has also gathered a number of awards, and our recruitment people have done an outstanding job attracting new students to the university. Our call centre gets more than 10,000 calls per month, many of those from prospective students looking for more information about AU.?
?Another significant accomplishment is our agreement last fall with the Western Hockey League, which allows young hockey players to get a post-secondary education while spending a lot of the time on the road. Only AU has the flexibility to let students do that, and the partnership is a particularly good fit for both the league and the university. There are many more of these types of partnerships on the horizon for AU.?
Van Rooijen is very proud of the achievements of her fund development team as well, noting that they have ?worked very hard to build a culture of philanthropy within the university and extended that to the external community, our alumni, our current donors and prospective donors.?
?We have also made great strides with government at both the provincial and federal levels,? she says. ?Awareness of AU among government officials has never been higher. And this past year, the university was successful in receiving Knowledge Infrastructure funding (a provincial and federal program) and the Community Adjustment Fund (a Western Economic Diversification program). This funding will allow many important IT and course conversion projects to move forward ultimately benefiting students by allowing us to continue to offer flexible, quality experience for students.?
Van Rooijen works from an office in Calgary, but because ?the university is unique in that it is not only a distance university for students its staff and faculty are dispersed as well,? she also frequently travels to Edmonton and Athabasca for ?university meetings and events and to meet with staff.? She may also have to travel to ?external meetings with potential donors and existing donors to talk about the opportunities at AU, and there are many for those interested in donating or partnering on a particular project or program.?
When asked if she ever has the opportunity to interact with students, Van Rooijen replies ?Yes! All the time. I attend several functions each month, meeting with community groups, alumni . . . and other academic and government contacts. I look at all these contacts as meeting potential students. It never ceases to amaze me how many people I meet who are, or have been, students of Athabasca University.?
?This university is a great place to work,? Van Rooijen concludes. ?I lead a very dedicated and professional team of people, and we expect many good things in the months and years ahead. I particularly like AU’s focus, which is always on the student. Not just in advancement, but everywhere. We haven’t lost sight of why we’re here, and everyone I work with supports that philosophy fully.?