University’s fundraising chief to depart

Lisa Raiola, who oversees the fundraising arm of the university, will retire at the end of this month. She has been vice president of institutional advancement for over nine years.

 Raiola said her decision to retire was not an easy one, but the time was right. 
“[President Miaoulis] needed somebody who would be here for a long time and I just couldn’t see myself being here in ten years,” Raiola said. “It was not easy for me to tell him that.”

Raiola has witnessed the campus change dramatically during her time here. Much of that change has been due to philanthropy organized by her office. 

“A lot of capital projects would not have happened without philanthropy,” Raiola said. 

Some of those projects include the Robert F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Financial Services Center, Center for Advanced Financial Education, the first floor of the library and many of the Samsung monitors and computers on campus. The new SECCM building is also partially donor-funded. 

One of her favorite moments during her time here involved fundraising for the Bready Sailing Center. During a reverse auction for fundraising for the construction, former Chair of the Board of Trustees Richard Bready stepped forward to donate $1 million.

“People went crazy. It was pouring rain and we were in this tent and people went crazy,” Raiola said. “By the end of that 20 minutes, we had raised $1.75 million.” 

The sailing center became the first building on campus that was completely funded by donations. 

“You can touch and feel buildings that have been the impact of philanthropy,” Raiola said.

Her time here has also seen some struggles. One of the largest she has experienced is getting alumni to donate. She said because this is a young university with traditionally smaller classes, the donation base is naturally smaller. 

“It takes a long time for people to build up that trust to write a $6,000 or $7,000 gift,” Raiola said. 

While Raiola is leaving the University, she is not leaving the local area. In 2014, she founded a culinary incubator called Hope & Main, located in Warren. The goal of the business is to help local people start food businesses. After retiring here, she will continue running Hope & Main. 

Amy Berkeley, former senior director of leadership, gifts and planned giving at the Boston Museum of Science, is taking over as the next vice president of institutional advancement. She started in this position on Monday, Dec. 2. Berkeley worked with President Miaoulis when he was president and director at the museum. 

“I think she’s coming in with some great, relevant experience,” Raiola said. “She will take us to a new height we haven’t seen before.”