Vice President for Advancement Transition
President Laurie Patton sent the following message to the campus community in an email on December 17, 2021.
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
I am writing with bittersweet news of an upcoming transition in Middlebury’s administrative leadership. Vice President for Advancement Colleen Fitzpatrick will retire from her position this summer. Colleen spoke with me about her decision in the fall and shared her plans to join her husband in retirement to enjoy more time with their family. I’ll say more about Colleen’s extraordinary contributions to Middlebury below.
Given the importance of this position, even more so as we are in the leadership phase of our campaign, we will be taking immediate steps to support our advancement efforts. I am also delighted to announce that I have appointed Dan Courcey, who has a distinguished career in the field of philanthropy at leading educational institutions in New England, as the next vice president for advancement. Dan will begin at Middlebury on July 5 and will overlap with Colleen for a time so we can ensure a smooth transition. Dan will be joining an extraordinary Middlebury advancement team, whose collective expertise, enthusiasm, and experience were some of the main attractors for him to join the College.
We conducted an extensive but intentionally concentrated recruitment effort over the last three months with advancement recruitment specialists at Spencer Stuart, identifying and vetting the qualifications of more than 60 potential candidates. We decided not to pursue a longer public process given the need to move quickly to maintain campaign momentum.
Dan will join the Middlebury community with vast experience designing and leading philanthropic operations at several institutions. His work has brought higher levels of funding, deeper engagements with stakeholders, and greater visibility among peer institutions. In his current position as chief development officer at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, and in earlier roles, Dan has led campaigns producing more than $850 million, personally soliciting and securing dozens of transformational gifts.
At Choate, Dan leads all aspects of development and parent and alumni relations, managing a team of 28 full-time staff, hundreds of volunteers, and numerous advisory councils. He is also a committed community member, simultaneously serving as an administrative faculty member, adjunct residential life advisor, admissions office network advisor, and primary staff liaison to trustee committees. Dan has served as co-chair of the United States-Japan Outreach Committee since 2014, was a member of the Financial Crisis Task Force, and has pioneered the launch of extensive global fundraising and outreach initiatives in countries including Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
During his tenure at Choate, Dan has launched and directed the largest capital campaign in Connecticut private school history, a seven-year, $200 million effort that happened to coincide with the great economic downturn of 2008. He has secured lead naming gifts for a variety of projects including residence halls, an environmental center, center for mathematics and computer science, student center, arts center, and athletic facilities. Dan previously held positions at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, where he was associate director of development, and The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, where he pioneered the use of new technologies for fundraising and engagement efforts.
Important for Middlebury, Dan is no stranger to Vermont. He began his career in advancement at the University of Vermont as a major gifts officer and development liaison to student life and university athletics. He spent his first years after college with Teach for America and worked for Securities Industry Daily in New York before moving into educational advancement. In the past year of the pandemic, Dan’s spouse and children relocated to Vermont. He continues to live and work in Connecticut and will join his family as a permanent Vermont resident upon assuming his duties at Middlebury.
Dan is a Bowdoin College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in history and German, and earned a master’s degree in Wesleyan University’s Liberal Studies Program, concentrating in education and fine arts.
Meeting with Dan, you learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible—because he’s done the research that helps you see yourself better. His enthusiasm for all things Vermont, and all things Middlebury, is infectious. He connects with people, is a clear and strategic thinker, and has a way of bringing colleagues in to develop a shared vision for moving forward. We are thrilled to have such a seasoned leader in Dan to keep and build the momentum of our campaign in its early leadership phase.
Colleen joined Middlebury as vice president for advancement in July 2016, and since that time she has overseen all fundraising and alumni relations activities—for the undergraduate College, the Institute, Language Schools, Bread Loaf School of English, C.V. Starr Schools Abroad, and School of the Environment.
She has made her mark. Among her many accomplishments, Colleen managed a reorganization of the advancement team and led campaign planning with the SLG, advancement staff, and trustees. This included a feasibility study and the refining of fundraising priorities reflecting the themes in Envisioning Middlebury. Under Colleen’s direction, Middlebury launched the leadership phase of the campaign on July 1, 2021, with an ambitious $90 million goal for the current fiscal year, seeking to double the results achieved over the past five years.
Colleen has led advancement through the pandemic with vision, stamina, and sensitivity to her superb team, which transitioned their operations from in-person to all-digital alumni and parent engagement—achieving fundraising goals as staff adapted quickly to the challenges of remote work. Colleen worked closely with me and trustees to establish the External Relations Committee of the Board, bringing crucial focus to the development and communications partnership necessary in a campaign.
Before Middlebury, Colleen served as Duke University’s assistant vice president for Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and the Graduate School, Duke’s undergraduate and graduate schools. In that role, she oversaw all fundraising efforts for the college and graduate school during the Campaign for Duke, which concluded in 2003, a Financial Aid Initiative, and the $2.5 billion Duke Forward Campaign that concluded in 2017. Colleen also served as assistant dean for Arts and Sciences Development at the University of Virginia. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s in education from Rutgers University. Colleen and her husband, Fred Pugsley, have two grown children, Clare and Fritz Pugsley, and will be new grandparents this spring.
Since joining Middlebury nearly six years ago, Colleen has brought deep professional expertise and knowledge of higher education to everything she has done here. She leads the Office of Advancement with a management style that is both efficient and compassionate. Within the larger Midd community she is a fellow traveler—developing, designing, and articulating the goals of our campaign with clarity and rigor. Colleen has helped us develop a new vision for Middlebury, and we are so grateful she will be with us through the summer. We will miss her greatly.
I look forward to sharing more information about a farewell for Colleen and a welcome for Dan as we approach the spring. In this season of giving, we celebrate them both as gifts to our community.