Smucker named associate VP of development

Ronica Smucker, currently the associate vice president of development at the University of San Francisco (USF), has been named associate vice president of development at Rice. She will begin June 1.

Ronica Smucker

Ronica Smucker

With more than 20 years of experience at higher education and medical institutions, Smucker will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of individual fundraising programs and oversee various departments within the Development and Alumni Relations division, including gift planning, major gifts, school-based fundraising and annual giving.

”I am incredibly excited to welcome Ronica to Rice and the DAR division,” said Kathi Dantley Warren, vice president for development. “Her wealth and breadth of experience, from strong advancement programs and experience coaching teams to success, will be a great asset. I have no doubt that both faculty and staff will enjoy working with Ronica as we seek to secure resources to enhance Rice’s mission.”

At USF, Smucker was responsible for oversight of major gifts and school-based fundraising, athletics, gift planning, parent philanthropy and prospect development. Prior to that, Smucker served as executive director of the Canary Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on early detection of cancer. She also has served as senior director of principal gifts at the Stanford University School of Medicine and senior director of individual giving initiatives at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Rice has great brand recognition globally as a top-tier research university,” Smucker said. “I love the small student population enveloped in a large vibrant, diverse metropolis, living in residential colleges that have unique personalities and traditions.”

Smucker said she is looking forward to conducting a series of listening sessions with staff and is excited about brainstorming creative approaches to fundraising. She acknowledged that the economic climate amid the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge.

“I found that donors want to hear from their university, and the best way forward is to find out how they are doing and make sure they are navigating this well,” Smucker said. “This is a time to update donors on how the university is faring and share the university’s response to COVID-19.”

Smucker, who studied French and foreign affairs at the University of Virginia, also holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is editor of Rice New.