Sonoma State announces vice president of university advancement

When universities appoint new presidents, restructuring in leadership and department organization tends to occur. Judy Sakaki’s arrival to Sonoma State University in July was no exception.

Last April 14, through an email to all university community members, Sakaki demonstrated the change she is bringing to Sonoma State by announcing Vince A. Sales as the new vice president for university advancement and president of the Sonoma State University Foundation.

As with many other cabinet positions, Sakaki named an interim vice president to head this department. Peter Smits, her former colleague at Fresno State, has since been in charge of leading University Advancement.

When Sakaki’s presidency began, she combined the University Affairs Office, in charge of alumni relations, communications and marketing, with the Development Office, in charge of university fundraising. Their consolidation created what is now known as the Department for University Advancement which encompasses all the areas previously mentioned.

Sales, who for the last six years has been the vice president for advancement at Sacramento State, was selected by Sakaki after a series of interviews, open forums and recommendations from the hiring committee, which consisted of faculty, students and staff. 

“We were searching for a candidate with experience in comprehensive campaigns, a seven-to-eight-year effort by the university to fundraise private money,” said Stan Nosek, interim vice president for Administration and Finance and chair of the hiring committee that found Sales.

Under Sales’ leadership, Sacramento State reached a record in philanthropy fundraising for the year 2016-2017.

“Sales has excellent experience in higher education advancement, with a track record of performance in putting together comprehensive campaigns. He is also very engaging and sincere,” Nosek said.

Sales graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in mass communications, and later from San Francisco State with a masters in Public Administration. Apart from Sacramento State, Sales has more than 20 years of experience working in higher education advancement at other esteemed institutions, such as Stanford University, where he conducted alumni fundraising in the Asian-Pacific region, and San Francisco State where he held various positions raising funds for the university.

Sales will begin his position at Sonoma State in May, and although he will work under the same title as he did in Sacramento State, he says he is looking forward to the opportunities SSU will provide.

“I am excited to lead the merging of the Development and University Affairs office, as well as elevating the profile of the foundation,” Sales said. “I look forward to working with the academic, administrative and student leaders of the university to do this, as well as the dynamic president [Sakaki] who I admire.”

As Sales assumes office in less than a month, one of his biggest responsibilities will be building a strong relationship with the university alumni. “Strong alumni relationships are key to the university’s success,” Sales said. “We need to find out what strategy works for Sonoma State’s alumni. For that, I plan to do a lot of active listening. We need everyone to come together in support of the university to give back, volunteer and advocate on its behalf.”

“Vince understands what students need from the Vice President for University Advancement position,” said Emily Hinton, current Associated Students President, and student representative in the hiring committee. “He will focus on building strong connections in different areas of campus, so we can all work together for the same purpose: student success.”