Redefining the Story: Overcoming Obstacles in Liberal Arts Institutions

September 15, 2019

In this episode of The Beacon Podcast, Lighthouse Counsel Senior Consultant Joan Bahner speaks with Jens Frederiksen, Fisk University’s vice president for institutional advancement and strategic development. 

Jens was instrumental in increasing alumni giving participation and raising a record $25 million during a critical time for the university. 

During their conversation, Jens answers:

  • What were the biggest issues facing Fisk University?
  • What did the action plan look like in regard to increasing fundraising?
  • How can other development officers increase alumni giving?

About our guest

Jens is originally from Denmark but spent 10 years in Luxembourg before moving to Tennessee in 2000 to attend Vanderbilt University on a tennis scholarship. He received his undergraduate degrees in economics, political science, history, and philosophy from Vanderbilt University – the first quadruple major in the institution’s long history. He then received a master’s degree in social and political thought before completing his master’s and PhD in political science. He wrote his dissertation on democratic deficits and popular struggles in an era of globalization. 

Jens has taught courses ranging from international politics to ancient political histories at Vanderbilt, the University of the South (Sewanee) and Fisk University. He has presented at numerous conferences, including the American political science association, the Copenhagen Business School and the University of Essex. 

For the past three years, Jens has been the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Strategic Development at Fisk University. During this time, Fisk University has raised a record $25 million, and alumni giving participation has increased to 35%. Fundraising totals have increased yearly by almost 30% and the endowment has grown by 15%. In his role as Vice President, Jens also oversaw the division of Sponsored Research for two years, which included securing the HBCU Title 3 funding for the next five-year cycle as well as the federal SAFRA grant. 

Jens oversees the division of Career Planning and Development, which has steadily grown the internship program from 17% of students having internships to 25% this past year. Recently, he assumed responsibility for the division of Enrollment Management, which primarily covers the recruitment and admission of students. 

In addition to his academic career, Jens served as an investment/export specialist for the State of TN ECD department. In this capacity, he helped develop a cohesive strategy with foreign trade/investment offices as well as regional business support. Jens worked with more than 200 companies to expand their operations into the UK/EU markets. This work included market research, business planning, matchmaking services, distribution strategies and sales execution. Jens speaks six languages and enjoys golfing and spending time with his family.


Twitter: @Fisk1866

Website: www.fisk.edu