Tamara Rogers will step down as Harvard’s vice president for alumni affairs and development by the end of this calendar year, the University announced on Thursday.
From her arrival as an undergraduate in 1970 to her leadership of the largest capital campaign in the history of American higher education — a campaign that closes this spring — Rogers made her professional mark first in undergraduate admissions before moving into alumni and development roles. As vice president, she is credited with strengthening alumni engagement; providing critical support to the University’s education and research endeavors, financial aid, and campus revitalization; and stewarding a capital campaign that broke records for the number of large gifts and significantly increased the number of families who contributed to the Schools.
“Tamara Rogers has been a model steward of Harvard’s interests, always seeking to ensure that the whole is more than the sum of its remarkable parts,” said Harvard President Drew Faust in an announcement to the University community. “Almost from the day I was appointed dean of the Radcliffe Institute 17 years ago, I have benefited from Tamara’s dedication, professionalism, friendship, and wisdom. … She has inspired countless pushes — great and small — that have moved the University closer to fulfilling its values and realizing its promise. Her leadership will change Harvard forever.”
“It is almost impossible to describe how fulfilling and meaningful my work at Harvard has been,” said Rogers. “I have been extremely fortunate to be able to work with so many remarkable alumni and friends, students, faculty, and colleagues in service to the most important mission I can think of: education and research.”
Working to keep Harvard’s 330,000 alumni engaged with the University has been an essential part of that mission, said Rogers.
“I have come to know so many alumni, in some cases through decades of their lives — many of them starting when they were students or prospective students — and have seen the strength of what alumni mean to this place,” said Rogers. “It is a credit to that strength and to my talented and dedicated colleagues that so many alumni and friends have chosen to renew or increase their engagement with Harvard, from supporting its initiatives to volunteering in myriad ways.”
A champion of the One Harvard campaign’s collaborative spirit, Rogers’ vice presidency has been marked by her commitment to building relationships across the Harvard community. She focused on creating opportunities for the University’s alumni affairs and development offices to come together, finding innovative ways for faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters to connect. Under her tenure, the successful Your Harvard event series launched, providing a forum for alumni and supporters to engage with Faust and the University in their local communities.
As part of her commitment to One Harvard, she created the presidential advisory group that evolved into the Campaign Executive Committee, and was instrumental in forming the Joint Committee for Alumni Affairs and Development of the Governing Boards. These two committees play important roles, taking a University perspective on the Harvard Campaign, and linking alumni affairs and development directly to the governing boards.
“Tamara is a very special person. For many of us, she has been an important mainstay of the University, which we value greatly,” said Paul J. Finnegan, University treasurer and chair of the Harvard Management Company board. “Her loyalty and longstanding commitment to Harvard are extraordinary. We are fortunate that she has built a strong team, because she will be missed.”
Rogers’ efforts included development of a strong team of professionals in alumni affairs and development. Her leadership and her efforts to ensure that members of her team felt valued and connected resulted in some of the highest marks for employee satisfaction and commitment to mission at Harvard.
“Tamara’s belief in the important role that alumni affairs and development plays in strengthening the University made all of us believe strongly in our mission and our work. And she leads with such humor, intelligence, warmth, and style that one can’t help but be inspired by her leadership,” said Robert Cashion, senior associate vice president for alumni affairs and development.
Rogers graduated from Radcliffe College in 1974. She began her Harvard career in 1976 as a staff assistant in the Harvard College Student Employment Office. She later served as a senior admissions officer at Harvard College and eventually headed international admissions before moving to development. She joined the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in 1990 as a major gifts officer, staffing the FAS planning committee on international issues. She was instrumental in creating the Financial Aid Council, an advisory group of alumni responsible for financial aid fundraising during Harvard’s $2.6 billion capital campaign in the 1990s. As part of that campaign, in 1994 she became director of major gifts and worked with five major gifts committees nationwide.
After becoming an executive search consultant for Heidrick & Struggles’ education and not-for-profit practice from 1996 to 1998, Rogers returned to Harvard in 1998 as associate director of University development and director of University capital projects. In that role, she was a member of the senior management team of the University development office with responsibility for interfaculty initiatives, corporate and foundation relations, international development, and staffing the provost on development matters. In 2001, she became the first associate dean for advancement and planning at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and then vice president for alumni affairs and development in 2007.
Rogers plans to engage in consultation with the new president to ensure a smooth transition. After that transition, she will continue as a charter trustee of Phillips Academy, consult and advise in the philanthropic sector, and take time for travel, reading, friends, and family.