Eric A. Becher, Ph.D.
Dr. Eric A. Becher, President of Vavarde Strategic Funding, received his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Louisville and his MM and BM in Music Education from the University of Michigan. He has over 35 years of experience in higher education, strategic planning, and advancement work (fundraising). As the youngest person ever to be appointed to be Director of the University of Michigan Marching Band, Becher served in similar roles as a music professor and conductor at several institutions including the University of Minnesota, University of Arizona, and the University of Louisville. In 2000, he moved to the advancement field, first as Assistant Vice President at the University of Connecticut Foundation, then as Vice President of Institutional Advancement at several private Christian institutions. Becher has participated in numerous leadership programs including: Leadership Kentucky, Leadership Southeastern Kentucky; Thrivent Associates Lutheran College and University Leadership Program; and the SCUP certification program.
Dr. Becher has led the strategic planning and implementation process at educational institutions and nonprofit organizations, utilizing a discovery process that respects institutional traditions, reveals emerging priorities, identifies sustainable ways to implement the strategic plan, and defines effective outcome metrics. His work has included bringing many new facilities online; working with nonprofit organizations to maximize their fundraising potential; supporting higher education faculty, staff, and student initiatives; initiating environmental efficiency upgrades; assisting spiritual life programs; coordinating new presenting arts series; and assisting athletic teams with new facilities and programmatic support. Becher has provided leadership and involvement in numerous faculty and staff search processes; mentored faculty and staff development efforts; solved faculty, staff, and student issues using value-based principles and legal perspectives; and provided performance assessments to encourage exceptional teaching, service, and stewardship. He has senior leadership experience with annual budgets including analyzing financial trends, projecting revenue figures, setting tuition rates, and monitoring expenses. Becher’s role, in positions as vice president for institutional advancement and as a member of senior leadership teams, has been to connect the vision and goals of the university’s many departments in a focused and purposeful manner in support of the mission and the strategic plan.
His fundraising and advancement experience is extensive, first as a faculty member and now as a seasoned advancement professional. In his first formal position in an advancement role, as Assistant Vice President at the University of Connecticut Foundation, he worked in all phases of a successful $470 million capital campaign. Becher’s responsibilities connected him to numerous aspects of the campaign including the coordination of the program planning (strategic implementation) functions within the Foundation. Throughout his career, Becher has been successful in cultivating relationships and securing major gifts, including numerous multi-million dollar gifts at each institution.
Board member recruitment and engagement has been a critical area of responsibility in his work since 2000. He has worked with Presidents, board members, and community leaders to recruit prospective board members; regularly proposed and organized meeting topics; led discussions and focus groups; connected board members to relevant issues and opportunities; and engaged individual board members by cultivating personal financial commitments and working with them to identify prospective donors.
In all aspects of his work, Becher combines a personal passion for tradition and history, with energy for change and growth. His personal faith and values; strength of leadership; academic background; experience with liberal arts colleges and universities; nonprofit organizations; and advancement/fundraising acumen all contribute to his breadth of experience. Dr. Becher has been a regular speaker on behalf of each institution throughout his career in a variety of venues and occasions. Speaking passionately about higher education and nonprofit causes is a natural extension of his work. He enjoys rallying people together for a common purpose while representing the mission of organizations with external entities, churches, and professional groups. He has actively served on community boards and state organizations providing leadership, strategic planning, marketing, and resource development guidance for those organizations.