Matthew VandenBerg, vice president for advancement and external relations at Alma College (Alma, Michigan), has been selected as the 19th president of Presbyterian College.
VandenBerg, a certified fundraising executive, leads a team responsible for Alma College’s constituent engagement and fundraising programs. These programs include major and planned gifts, annual giving, corporate and foundation partnerships, alumni and parent initiatives, donor relations and stewardship, advancement services, government relations, community partnerships and employer relations.
During his tenure at Alma College, VandenBerg led the five most productive fundraising years in the college’s history. Alma College averaged raising $17 million a year since VandenBerg arrived in 2015.
As Alma College’s chief external relations officer, VandenBerg works closely with the Alma community in a variety of ways, including promoting economic development, facilitating community service projects and internship opportunities, and meeting with elected officials.
VandenBerg was selected by PC’s Board of Trustees on Oct. 28. He will succeed Bob Staton on Feb. 1. In May, Staton announced he will retire on Dec. 31 after five years as president of the college.
“Dr. VandenBerg embraces the Christian faith and is a lifelong member of the PC (USA),” said E.G. Lassiter, chair of the PC Board of Trustees. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is a denomination of the Presbyterian Church with which PC is affiliated.
“He sought a presidency at a church-related liberal arts college, and specifically PC, as our mission of developing well-rounded students is a driving force for him,” Lassiter said. “With the many challenges facing higher education, Dr. VandenBerg brings a sense of urgency, initiative and drive that is going to be needed to address and navigate the changes facing PC over the next decade. He has a personality that will make others want to join with him in that effort.”
VandenBerg’s selection follows a national search that began in May. More than 100 people representing all major institutional sectors applied to become the next president of PC. Applicants, including sitting presidents, vied for the opportunity to lead PC, which Money magazine lists as the highest-ranked private institution in South Carolina in its “Best Colleges in America, Ranked by Value” and the U.S. News and World Report ranks as one of the nation’s best liberal arts colleges for advancing social mobility.
The 17-member presidential search committee, assisted by the executive search firm CarterBaldwin, includes board of trustee members, faculty members, administrators and alumni.
“My primary concern as chair of the search committee,” said Holbrook Raynal, “was to find the person who has working knowledge and sufficient grasp of all of the challenges facing higher education and has the ability to communicate and lead strategies that will address those that are most urgent for Presbyterian College.
“That person would need to be able to develop and nurture effective relationships with all of the constituencies that make up the PC family. High on the list of priorities were student enrollment, fundraising, shared governance within the institution and emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
“Drawing on his experience and inspiring leadership style, Dr. VandenBerg demonstrates the ability and desire to quickly address those concerns.”
“I am deeply grateful to Board Chair E.G. Lassiter, search committee Chair Holbrook Raynal, the board of trustees, and the search committee for their confidence and trust in me,” VandenBerg said. “I was impressed by the thoughtfulness, diligence and care taken by PC at each stage in the search process and overwhelmed by the extraordinary lengths taken by so many to make my family and me feel welcome.
“PC is a venerable institution with rich traditions, a long track record of preparing students for meaningful and successful lives, and a remarkably passionate and loyal alumni base. I will bring sensitivity and humility to the role and a voracious appetite for learning about all the things that make PC so special.
“My top priorities from the outset will be to build strong relationships, to listen and learn with care, and to earn trust, one person at a time.”