James J. Husson named head of Development and Alumni Relations at Penn

Starting in October, Husson will head a division devoted to fundraising and to nurturing relationships with the University’s alumni.

James Husson.
Effective October 17, 2022, James Husson will head a division devoted to fundraising and to nurturing relationships with the University’s alumni.

James J. Husson has been named vice president of Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Pennsylvania, effective October 17, 2022. The announcement was made today by Penn President Liz Magill.

Husson comes to Penn from Boston College where he has served as Senior Vice President for University Advancement. He previously held positions at Brown and Harvard.

In making the announcement, Magill noted Husson’s leadership experience at multiple institutions and his success in recruiting, developing and mentoring advancement professionals in a manner that has encouraged collaboration, diversity, teamwork, and the successful pursuit of ambitious goals.

“Jim is a visionary leader, and I am thrilled to welcome him to the Penn family,” said Magill. “He is a person who cares passionately about students, faculty, and alumni. He knows how to engage volunteers and donors to advance our highest aspirations and has a deep personal appreciation for how higher education can transform people’s lives for the good. Development and alumni relations is critical to our future, and I know Jim will be exceptional in this role. He is a person of the highest integrity, and we are very fortunate to have him come aboard.”

“I am honored to join President Magill and her leadership team at such an exciting time for Penn, and it’s a special privilege to work alongside Penn’s outstanding community of development and alumni relations professionals,” Husson said. “Penn’s alumni, parents, and friends are known for their remarkable commitment to the University and for the countless ways in which they advance the work of its faculty and students and staff. Penn plays such a vital role in the world, guided by a spirit of innovation and a dedication to improving the lives of individuals and communities. I am humbled by this opportunity to be part of its next chapter.”

At Boston College, Husson led the planning and execution of the largest campaign in BC’s history, exceeding its goal and raising $1.6 billion, significantly surpassing the university’s prior campaign total of $440 million. He also successfully reorganized the advancement operation, bringing Alumni Relations within the Office of University Advancement and aligning alumni engagement with broader university advancement priorities.

At Penn, Husson will head a division devoted to fundraising and to nurturing relationships with the University’s more than 290,000 living graduates, including more than 23,000 who live abroad. The Power of Penn Campaign, which concluded last year, raised more than $5.4 billion.

He succeeds John H. Zeller, who recently retired after leading Development and Alumni Relations since January 2005. “John Zeller’s contributions to Penn were extraordinary and reshaped the way the University interacts with alumni and donors,” said Magill. “Jim Husson is a worthy successor who will continue to build on the tradition of excellence that John established.”

Before joining Boston College in 2002, Husson served as Vice President of Development at Brown University. Prior to Brown, he held roles of increasing responsibility in Development at Harvard University from 1989 to 1999, where he ultimately became Director of Major Gifts.

He is a graduate of the University of Rochester.