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Eric Johnson appointed vice president for university advancement

Published: Monday, April 2, 2012

Updated: Monday, April 2, 2012 08:04


Andrew Schneer / The Tufts Daily

Eric Johnson yesterday assumed his new role yesterday as vice president for university advancement.


Former Executive Director of Development Eric Johnson yesterday assumed his new appointed role as vice president for university advancement.

Johnson had been serving in the position ad interim since March when Brian Lee, former senior vice president for university advancement, stepped down to fulfill his new job as vice president for development and institute relations at the California Institute of Technology.

“Eric Johnson was quite clearly the best candidate to be our next vice president for advancement,” University President Anthony Monaco told the Daily in an email. “He truly cares about Tufts and is able to inspire the same passion in others.”

“Higher education is currently an important aspect of our society,” Johnson said. “I’ve always been energized to work in this industry.”

From travels along the east coast to meetings with the Board of Trustees, the vice president for university advancement serves to fundraise, maintain alumni relations and advance communication services for the entire Tufts community. Although the position does not allow for a standard day-to-day schedule, the job will require Johnson to work with the university’s leadership team to encourage new or existing donors to contribute to Tufts.

Although Johnson had previously worked with Lee to fulfill these duties, Johnson said he did not grasp the scope of the position until he assumed the role.

“I didn’t really understand the full extent of the logistics and how important it is,” Johnson said. “Brian and I were close friends and colleagues, though, so I feel like I got good advice the whole time. I think the main advice I got from Brian was ‘surround yourself with good people and let good people do good work.’”

Lee, who began his new job April 1, served as the vice president for university advancement for 10 years. Although he was not involved in the process of selecting his successor, he was pleased with Johnson’s appointment.

“Of course, I am biased after having worked with Eric for many years, and admiring his extraordinary skills as a fundraiser and his style as a leader,” Lee told the Daily. “So, I believe the president made a very wise decision.”

Since he started work at Tufts 24 years ago, Johnson has filled a variety of positions coordinating alumni and philanthropic relations in specific areas of the university. In his new role, Johnson will continue to use these skills but will apply them across Tufts’ campuses.

“I still really enjoy building connections with alumnae and friends of the university,” Johnson said. “It’s why I got into this industry, but now I also like working with the leadership team, both in our division and the university.” 

Last June, Lee finished a fundraising effort, Beyond Boundaries: The Campaign for Tufts, which accumulated its goal of $1.2 billion for the university. In the time between this campaign and the next, Johnson said he hopes to increase support from young alumnae as well as garner more volunteers in his division. 

“We want to expand alumnae relations programs so that we have more people involved in the programs around the country and keep them involved for the long term,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to wait for a campaign to focus on some key priorities financially for all schools.”

During his month as vice president for university advancement ad interim, Johnson traveled the country with Monaco to meet with alumni and completed various other tasks. Over this period of time, Monaco evaluated Johnson for the permanent position, Johnson said. 

“He’s modest about his achievements, but he is quietly confident and instills confidence in others,” Monaco said. “He and Brian Lee are very much alike. Both are consummate professionals and caring human beings.”

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