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Washington and Lee University names ‘strong leader and strategic thinker’ as VP of advancement

Courtesy of Washington & Lee University.

Washington & Lee University has named Susan Wood the university’s next vice president for university advancement, effective July 1, 2024.

She will succeed Tom Jennings, who is stepping down at the end of the academic year after serving four years in that role.

Wood previously served the university as executive director of university development, and brings more than 20 years of fundraising experience at Washington and Lee to the role. She has held successive leadership positions in the university’s development office since joining W&L as a capital giving officer in 2001. She has been executive director of university development since 2020, overseeing all aspects of the university’s fundraising operations and taking the lead in planning the university’s Leading Lives of Consequence campaign, which will enter its public phase in October 2024.

She was also an integral part of the university’s two prior capital campaigns, serving as W&L’s director of leadership giving from 2006-2020, during the $542.5M Honor Our Past, Build Our Future campaign that concluded in 2015, and as director of capital giving and director of the public phase of the university’s $242M Campaign for the Rising Generation, which concluded in 2003.

She holds a B.B.A. from the University of Kentucky and an M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining Washington and Lee, she held positions with progressive responsibility at the University of Kentucky, Georgia Southern University and the Savannah College of Art and Design.  She has served the profession in leadership roles on the Board of Directors of CASE District III and as co-chair of the CASE District III Conference.

As Vice President of University Advancement, Wood will oversee all aspects of the university’s advancement program, including development, alumni and career services, law school advancement, advancement operations, and special events. She will also provide strategic direction for the Leading Lives of Consequence campaign, which includes support for student scholarships, academic programs and co-curricular experiences, and a variety of capital projects to improve facilities across campus.

“Susan has been a trusted colleague and outstanding fundraiser during her 23-year career at W&L,” said Washington and Lee President Will Dudley. “She is a strong leader and strategic thinker who has led our development team to some of the strongest fundraising years in the university’s history. She has both the vision and the deep commitment to the university that will be critical to the success of our capital campaign. We are fortunate that she is assuming this important leadership position, which will increase our momentum heading into the campaign’s public launch this fall.”

Wood led the development team to the second-best fundraising year in history in 2022-23, raising $73.9 million in support of the university’s strategic priorities. That momentum continues in 2024 with exceptionally strong reunion giving: a total of $15.6M has been received to date for class projects and the Annual Fund, including record-breaking gifts from the Classes of 1994 and 1999. Under Wood’s leadership, the university has also completed fundraising for several important facilities, including the Harte Center for Teaching and Learning, the Office of Inclusion and Engagement, the new Williams School building, and the Lindley Center for Student Health and Wellness.

“Washington and Lee benefits from the support and engagement of countless alumni, parents and friends. I am honored to work alongside them, and fortunate to have had wonderful W&L mentors including Farris Hotchkiss, Dennis Cross and Tom Jennings. I look forward to building on the foundation they helped create. W&L is well positioned for the future, and I am eager to advance the university’s important mission in partnership with President Dudley and our outstanding advancement and senior leadership teams,” Wood said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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