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Virgin Islands Native Returns to Lead UVI's Institutional Advancement

Dionne V. Jackson has been selected as vice president for Institutional Advancement (IA) at the University of the Virgin Islands. She will have oversight of all of IA's areas, which include Annual Giving, Major Gifts, Alumni Affairs, Public Relations and the Reichhold Center for the Arts. Jackson has more than 10 years of higher education administration experience.

A St. Thomas native, Jackson returns to UVI from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the associate director of Major Gifts for the Provost's Area. In that position, Jackson launched a new fundraising program, built a $5 million pipeline in two years, and was personally responsible for soliciting gifts between $50,000 and $2 million. Prior to her position at the University of Pennsylvania, Jackson served as assistant director of Corporate, Foundation and Government Relations at Vassar College. In that position she was instrumental in helping the college secure more than $10 million in funds to support institutional and faculty related activities.

"UVI is very fortunate to have someone with Ms. Jackson's experience, dedication and love for the Virgin Islands at the helm of our Institutional Advancement efforts," said UVI President Dr. David Hall. "Ms. Jackson brings a sound understanding of best practices in fundraising from some of the leading universities in the country. Yet she also has a unique understanding of our alumni base and the people of the Virgin Islands, whose support we desperately need," Dr. Hall continued. "Her presence and dedication make me extremely excited and confident about our fundraising potential in the future."

Jackson is no stranger to UVI, having served as marketing manager at the Reichhold Center and special events coordinator, before leaving to further her education. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Cornell University and a Master of Fine Arts in Arts Management from Brooklyn College.

Jackson said she is very excited to return to UVI. "I grew up on St. Thomas looking up to this institution. UVI was my inspiration for pursuing a career in higher education administration," she said. "This is what I've been working toward for the majority of my career." Jackson made a deliberate decision to leave UVI, further her education, gain very specific experience, then return to contribute to the Territory. "This is not just a job; it's a call to service," she said. "This is my way of giving back to a community I love. I'm ready to go to work for UVI and the people of this territory."

Strengthening UVI's relationships with its donors, alumni and local community stakeholders is among Jackson's first priorities. She explained that this is an exciting time for the University and that she hopes to build a stronger culture of awareness and support for the institution. "UVI is growing and we have very ambitious goals. We must support this growth, the faculty, and our students."

Jackson's vision is to help UVI stakeholders - the alumni and the community at large - do their part to nurture and strengthen the institution through engagement and philanthropy. Another priority is launching a feasibility study in preparation for a possible capital campaign.

She tells a story of her work at Penn, when colleagues discouraged her from pursing a particular prospect whose family had given to the university in the past, but had since felt disenfranchised by the institution for almost two decades. Jackson built a relationship with the prospect, who initially said she would "not give a dime." After the course of a year and a half, the prospect agreed to give a $1million. "It really demonstrates the value of building and maintaining good relationships in this work," Jackson said. "You have to listen to individuals and let them know they have a stake in the institution and that their ideas are welcome; it's not just about their dollars," Jackson added. "People are far more prone to invest in an institution's success when they believe it is doing good work to benefit students and the wider community."

Jackson is based on the St. Thomas campus. Her appointment began on Sept. 15.