Following an internal search, Mike Connell has accepted the permanent role of vice president for advancement and CEO of the WSU Foundation, effective Dec. 1. Connell has served in an acting basis in that role since February.
The announcement was made today by WSU President Kirk Schulz who praised Connell’s experience and institutional knowledge as a valuable asset as the university ramps up its planning for its next campaign.
“Mike is an exceptional fundraiser and experienced manager who has nurtured strong, collaborative relationships across the system. I have the utmost confidence in him and the entire advancement team to grow a robust culture of philanthropy and engagement across the entire WSU community to achieve our ambitious goals,” said Schulz.
Connell grew up in Spokane and graduated from WSU in 1985 with a degree in business administration. He has 33 years of experience in advancement. Starting as a development coordinator for WSU Spokane, he has held a range of positions at WSU, including director of athletic development, senior director of gift planning, and senior associate vice president of individual giving. In 2018, Mike was appointed senior associate vice president of principal giving, where he successfully built a principal giving program and recruited staff to engage the university’s most generous donors in support of WSU.
Most recently as acting vice president and CEO, Connell led the creation of a nine-member Campaign Organizing Committee and made critical hires to complete the build out of the advancement leadership team. He also led the WSU Foundation Board of Directors through the completion of their governance restructure and the creation of the advocates and advocates emeriti volunteer groups. The Foundation surpassed its revised goal for total philanthropic activity in FY2021, and FY2022 is trending more than $8.2 million, or 19 percent, ahead of last year’s pace.
“My life’s work has been about people helping people. I am excited to serve my alma mater and for the opportunities we have to advance WSU in many tangible and meaningful ways,” said Connell. “I love WSU, and it’s a great privilege to work with the incredible Cougar family of alumni and friends to grow our land-grant mission to provide education, research, and outreach that benefit the state of Washington and the world.”