Carol Packard is the new vice president for Development and Alumni Relations at Lehigh University. Packard has previous experience in university development, philanthropy and communications. (Courtesy of Carol Packard)

New vice president for Development and Alumni Relations announced


Carol Packard was recently named the new vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, following an extensive search for the vacant position. Packard’s background is in university development, philanthropy and communications. 

Packard spent time at Pennsylvania State University as an individual contributor in the College of Liberal Arts, followed by her leadership position in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. 

In 2021, she became the associate dean for Alumni Affairs and Development in the College of Engineering at Cornell University and most recently as the associate vice president for Colleges and Units.

During her time at Cornell, Packard said she built a $500 million campaign plan for the College of Engineering, and helped raise over $3 billion at the university’s main campus. 

“Philanthropy creates opportunities for margins of excellence and institutions of higher education in particular that wouldn’t otherwise be possible,” Packard said. “It’s really about relationships and connecting people and community building and creating belonging. Philanthropy is the throughline for all of that in many ways.” 

Packard was born in Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State as a Schreyer Honors Scholar with a Bachelors of Arts degree in English Literature. She earned a master’s degree from Penn State in Higher Education Administration. 

Packard is a first-generation college graduate and started her career in higher education as a gift officer at Penn State in 2008.

“I believe that we as institutions play a really important role in society,” Packard said. “Building and creating citizens who can contribute positively and have impact in a way that is meaningful not just for them, but also for other people and for the world in general.”

Christine E. Cook, the vice president of the Office of Strategic Planning and Initiatives, discussed the comprehensive search for this new role, which included hiring a professional recruitment firm to find top candidates. 

Cook said they chose a search firm that specialized in philanthropic fundraising who have a selection of leaders across the country. 

The search started in November, according to Cook, who was one of three people on the search committee. 

“We really wanted, first and foremost, evidence of highly successful principal gift fundraising,” Cook said. “Not too far off from the first item is the ability to be a senior leader and lead a large complex team, understanding a complex and comprehensive institution, knowledge of higher education and the nuances of an organization as complicated as Lehigh.” 

Cook said the position entails providing opportunities for alumni to connect and network throughout the country and the world.

“Development is really the fundraising engine,” Cook said. “They go hand in hand because alumni who feel really connected to the institution are more likely to provide fundraising.”

Georgette Chapman Phillips, the dean of the College of Business and Economics, was also involved in the search. 

“Carol brings a depth of experience from highly successful fundraising campaigns,” Phillips said. “She also has the leadership skills to skillfully lead the DAR staff while maintaining excellent relationships with the wider campus community.” 

Phillips said she hopes Packard will bring a vision for high level philanthropy that will excite donors. 

“The ideal candidate would have deep experience and a record of success in closing significant gifts,” Phillips said. “She needs to be a strong and collaborative leader.”

Packard said she hopes to achieve both the vision for the future outlined in the Inspiring the Future Maker’s strategic plan and the GO Beyond campaign.  

“I hope to do so in a way that continues to foster the love and community that I see at Lehigh and that I experienced whenever I was interviewing for the position,” Packard said.

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