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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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BREAKING: Courtney Surls, vice president of university advancement, to step down at close of Change Can’t Wait campaign

Surls’ departure marks the third exit announcement of a member of the University’s presidential cabinet in the past year

American University President Sylvia Burwell announced in an email Tuesday afternoon that Vice President of University Advancement Courtney Surls will step down at the end of the Change Can’t Wait campaign after over eight years in the position. 

Her announced departure is the latest in several changes to the University’s presidential cabinet, including the departure of former Provost and Chief Academic Officer Peter Starr in June and the October announcement of Athletics and Recreation Director Billy Walker’s retirement. Over the summer, Vicky Wilkins was promoted to acting provost and chief academic officer, Raymond Ou joined as vice president of student affairs and Evelyn Thimba joined as vice president of undergraduate enrollment. Nkenge Friday also joined the cabinet as vice president of inclusive excellence in January. 

Under Surls’ leadership, University funding more than doubled and the Change Can’t Wait campaign raised $464 million, according to Burwell. The funding has contributed to the development of new University offices and institutes, more than 150 scholarships and the launch of the Student Thriving Complex, “the largest investment in student thriving in the university’s history.” It also contributed to a recent increase in financial aid.

“The Change Can’t Wait campaign is a historic effort, one that sets the stage for AU’s next era,” Burwell wrote in the email. “The impact of the campaign is already recognized across the university.”  

Before Change Can’t Wait launched in 2021, Surls contributed to outreach with alumni and brought in new donors. 

“... she has helped AU leverage significant momentum in support of strategic priorities, attracting new sources of funding and deepening lifelong relationships between AU and its 150,000 alumni,” Burwell wrote. 

The University will begin a nationwide search for her replacement at the start of the new fiscal year in July with the arrival of the new president. In the meantime, Dan Luperchio, the current associate vice president for development, will serve as interim vice president of university advancement. 

This article was edited by Walker Whalen, Abigail Turner and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Isabelle Kravis.

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