UNCP names Steve Varley vice chancellor for Advancement

Steve Varley
Steve Varley

Steve Varley, a proven leader as a major fundraiser in higher education and non-profit organizations, has been tapped as the new vice chancellor for Advancement at UNC Pembroke.

Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings announces the appointment today after his recommendation was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees. Varley was selected following a national search utilizing a firm specializing in Advancement professionals. His first day in the role will be May 4.

“We’re thrilled to have Steve join us at UNC Pembroke,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “After his visit to campus his energy, vision, passion and commitment were obvious to everyone he met and it was clear he would be a fit with not only our university but this county and this region.

“I’m really excited about how Steve’s work will move UNCP forward in the years to come. He clearly recognizes the uniqueness of our university and how our story can inspire people, organizations and institutions to support the university’s mission and vision. He will play a vital role in UNCP’s future success.”

Varley brings two decades of fundraising experience in higher education, serving in key leadership roles at Yale and Gardner-Webb Universities. He served as associate dean for Advancement in the Yale School of Nursing which boasts more than 400 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral nursing programs. Previously, he served as vice president for Advancement at Gardner-Webb in addition to a variety of other development and business positions. He also has experience in the classroom having taught business and organizational development courses while at Gardner-Webb.

Varley also brings key experience from the non-profit sector. Most recently, he served as vice president for Development for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in Connecticut. While at MMF, Varley was responsible for their recent comprehensive campaigns that secured more than $48.5 million between 2018-2019.

Varley sees UNC Pembroke as the perfect place to combine his vast experience and practical knowledge to make an impact on a much greater level. The steady academic and capital growth in recent years at UNCP was among the many draws for Varley who has witnessed the university’s transformation and growing student body from afar.

“It has been great to learn how the university changes lives through education, but to see that firsthand was such a powerful draw for me,” Varley said. “I look forward to serving and working alongside UNCP’s diverse, energized community.

“I saw the news of NC Promise and I was intrigued about how the chancellor’s vision has really been clearly playing out. There’s a lot of growth and excitement here with the ongoing building projects. It’s a school on the move doing big things.”

Touting his experience at Yale and Gardner-Webb, Varley understands the importance of becoming integrated into the campus community. He plans to engage the UNCP community through a listening tour opening the door for communication and to better define his new role.

“Meaningful efforts require a real perspective of being a part of the region and really understanding the people and where they come from. When you are building something to serve the future needs of a group of people, you must be a part of that group and that comes with forming those connections and being a part of the larger community.”

Being located in a smaller, tight-knit community, Varley understands the impact future gifts will have on UNCP, but more importantly, the region.

“At UNCP, I will be able to put my work and my effort toward something I know that is life-changing. When you are dealing with a community so richly connected to its university, when those gifts happen it’s transformational for the people.”

Likewise, Varley understands now more than ever the university’s mission is relevant and urgent during the COVID-19 outbreak as development efforts have been prioritized to bring a direct impact on student outcomes through emergency relief efforts and increasing scholarship for students seeing an increasing financial need.

“The UNCP Advancement Office works with alumni, donors, and partners to manage the university's fundraising efforts, including for direct student needs and adapting operations in response to the outbreak.”

During his campus visits, Varley said he immediately recognized the real commitment of the Foundation Board and alumni leaders and is looking forward to the opportunity to expand the donor base.

The career move also gives Varley, who has spent much of his professional career up north, a chance to return to his roots. A native of New Bern, N.C., he has family living across North Carolina and the southeast. He earned magna cum laude honors from Chowan University, holds an MBA from Gardner-Webb University, and has completed additional graduate studies in the Gardner-Webb School of Divinity and English program.

“The legacy of this institution is so connected to service to this region. I’m proud to be associated with that and excited  to work toward an even brighter future for UNCP and southeastern North Carolina.”