Lake Superior State University has named nationally recognized philanthropic strategist and former LSSU Foundation executive director Scott Smith as its inaugural vice president of advancement. Smith, with more than two decades of experience as a fundraiser in the higher education and not-for-profit sectors over a 35-year career, started at LSSU on March 15, 2021. He joins a university advancement team made up of Associate Vice President Tom Coates (’86), Director of Donor Relations Sharon Dorrity (’87), Director of Annual Fund and Athletic Development Andrew Rubinstein, and Development Operations Director Ryan Sigmon (’15).
“Throughout my professional life, I have had the privilege of leading teams big and small to meet and exceed ever-increasing fundraising goals, and I look forward to working with the LSSU community to secure philanthropic support for this great institution,” said Smith. “I believe I can help LSSU expand its philanthropic base and alumni involvement. LSSU provided me a chance early in my development career, and from 1997 to 2001, I was fortunate to work with an exceptional board and team that secured the first and subsequent million-dollar fundraising years in LSSU history. Twenty years later, I’m excited to have the chance to help this exceptional university again.”
Smith’s other relevant previous jobs include major gift officer at Michigan State University (2001-06), for which he secured several multimillion-dollar donations. Smith served as vice president of development and external relations at HELP USA (2006-08), a New York City-based outreach organization that fights homelessness. He was east region chief development officer (2008-16) and—after seven consecutive years of record-setting fundraising and two commendations from the healthcare best-practices firm Advisory Board Company for cutting-edge approaches in development—president (2016-18) of the Detroit-located Ascension and St. John Providence Foundations, which support area hospitals and healthcare systems. The past few years, Smith was a philanthropic consultant for numerous Michigan nonprofits, ranging from military to sports to academics.
He began his career as a senior computer analyst in the Office of the Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1986 to 1997. Smith earned a B.S. in data processing from Saginaw Valley State University and a master’s degree in marketing from Aquinas College.
“We interviewed several talented finalists for this important new senior management team position, and Scott rose to the top because of his ability to set high benchmarks and then surpass them, nurture constituents, find new donors, and enhance networking. Also, his familiarity with database management is exactly what we need as we seek to grow our donor pool and alumni engagement. Further, fiscal resilience is one of the pillars of our strategic plan, and Scott has both cut costs and generated resources,” said LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley. “I’m excited to welcome him back to the fold and see what he can do to burnish our mission, vision, and values.”