News Releases

Ithaca College Names Seasoned Fund-Raising Executive as VP for Institutional Advancement

 ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College president Tom Rochon has announced the appointment of Christopher (“Chris”) Biehn as vice president for institutional advancement. Biehn (pronounced bean), who has more than two decades of fund-raising experience in education and the nonprofit sector, will join the college on April 2. He succeeds Shelley Semmler, who announced last year that she would be retiring from the post she has held since 1999.

Biehn has served since 2009 as vice president for university advancement at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. In that role he helped reinvigorate a comprehensive fund-raising campaign while overseeing the Departments of Annual Giving, Major and Planned Gifts, Leadership Gifts, Alumni Relations, and Corporate and Foundation Relations.

“Chris has demonstrated throughout his career a commitment to collaboration and inclusion in fund-raising efforts; one that instills a culture of philanthropy in the institutions at which he has worked,” said Rochon. “He made a positive impression on everyone at the college who met with him, including the search committee, the Institutional Advancement staff, the deans and vice presidents, and other members of the campus community who took part in the interview process.”

“Implementing many elements of our strategic plan — IC 20/20 — will necessitate the raising of substantial funds as part of our next comprehensive campaign,” said Carl Sgrecci, vice president for finance and administration and chair of the search committee. “I was most impressed with the talent, background and leadership that Chris will be able to bring to the college, and I look forward to working with him.”

Prior to joining Drew, Biehn served for eight years as the chief advancement officer for the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Massachusetts. He had previously been director of development for the College of William & Mary’s School of Education, director of institutional advancement at the Albany Academy, director of development and alumni affairs at Lynn University and director of annual giving and special projects at Glens Falls Hospital.

He earned his B.A. degree in philosophy from Hobart College in Geneva, New York.

“The priorities in IC 20/20 are straightforward and inspiring,” said Biehn. “I am looking forward to working with President Rochon and the entire Ithaca College community in leading an effort to build an even stronger culture of philanthropy and to successfully engage alumni, parents and others in support of this important initiative."

Biehn will be responsible for overseeing a staff of 47 in the Division of Institutional Advancement, which comprises the Offices of Development (including Corporate and Foundation Relations, Friends of Ithaca College, Individual and Planned Giving, Ithaca Fund and Athletic Fund-Raising), Alumni Relations, Advancement Communications and Institutional Advancement Administration.