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Dennis Cross to Step Down as Vice President for University Advancement

dcross Dennis Cross to Step Down as Vice President for University AdvancementDennis W. Cross

Dennis W. Cross, vice president for university advancement at Washington and Lee University, has announced his retirement effective December 31, 2020.

W&L President Will Dudley will appoint a committee to lead a national search for Cross’ replacement in the coming months.

“It is difficult to overstate the impact that Dennis Cross has had on W&L since he arrived in 2004,” said Dudley. “A passionate advocate for the liberal arts, Dennis was instrumental in the success of our last capital campaign, which at the time was the second-largest campaign ever completed at a liberal arts college. He has been a visionary leader, a trusted advisor and a valued colleague to so many of us at W&L, developing strong relationships both within our campus community and with alumni across the country. His expertise, enthusiasm, and can-do spirit will be sorely missed.”

As vice president, Cross manages the university’s comprehensive advancement program, including advancement operations, alumni engagement, development, law school advancement, and special events. As the university’s senior philanthropic officer and strategic advisor to four presidents, he conceptualized and managed W&L’s $542.5 million Honor Our Past, Build Our Future capital campaign, which resulted in $157 million for student scholarships, $112 million for faculty support, the renovation of W&L’s historic Colonnade, the construction of the Ruscio Center for Global Learning, and the renovation and expansion of W&L’s indoor athletic and recreation facilities, among other initiatives.

Under Cross’ leadership, W&L’s Annual Fund has grown from $4.7 to $10.8 million, and the university has raised funds to construct or renovate 22 facilities. W&L’s endowment per student has grown from 38th to 25th in the nation, and the percentage of the university’s operating budget coming from philanthropy has risen from 38 to 48 percent. W&L has received the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Award in Educational Fundraising for Overall Performance six times since 2004.

In addition to fundraising, Cross has supported the development of the university’s alumni engagement programs, communications strategy, collections of art and history, and event planning operations. He was actively involved in the university’s 2017-18 strategic planning initiative, co-chairing the Resources Task Force. He was inducted as a member of W&L’s leadership society Omicron Delta Kappa in 2015.

Prior to joining W&L, Dennis served as vice president for university development at The College of William and Mary. From 1992-2000, he was executive director of the Arts and Sciences Foundation, Inc., and senior associate dean for program development and external relations for the College of Arts and Sciences. He also served as special assistant to the director of the $2 billion Carolina First campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served as director of alumni and development at Vanderbilt University’s College of Arts and Science from 1986-1992, and as a financial services officer at First American National Bank in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1982-1986.

He holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in philosophy from Vanderbilt with Phi Beta Kappa honors and a Master’s of Divinity and Master’s of Theology from Harvard University.  

“It is a privilege to serve Washington and Lee,” said Cross. “I am gratified by the accomplishments of University Advancement during my tenure for the benefit of W&L’s students, faculty, staff, programs, and historic campus. While I look forward to my retirement, I will work as hard as ever for the next 14 months to continue to achieve our objectives, including the beginning of W&L’s next campaign which I have planned. My successor will assume management of a strong Advancement program, team, and professional culture and will have the privilege of working with committed, caring, passionate, and generous alumni, parents, and friends to achieve by 2027 the objectives of the new strategic plan.”

More information about the search will be available on the president’s website in the coming months.