6 questions for Monica Delisa

New VP for development on why she came to SC and the difference donors can make

This past January, Monica Delisa joined the university as the new vice president for development. A native of Arizona, Delisa will provide strategic oversight and management of the university’s comprehensive development efforts  and, in her spare time, hopes to continue indulging her love for Peloton cycling and watching fast-pitch softball.

How did you first become interested in development in higher education? 

As an undergraduate, my major advisor was also the editor for the alumni magazine in my college. He gave me the opportunity to interview alumni about how their degrees shaped their lives. I learned how education can impact the life and career of not only an individual alumnus but also their family and community. 

When you talk to family and friends, how do
you explain the case for private support of public higher education?

The data is clear — a college degree is about more than a great job. People who complete college have better health and longer lives than those who have a high school edu­cation or less. College graduates also report that they are happier and have more successful personal lives.

The single best way to directly impact our fellow citizens is to ensure that more of them have access to those things that the university provides: high-quality education and research, economic success, and happiness. Donations to support programs that are life-changing can be the difference between a great university and a preeminent one.

The difference between a good university and a great one rests in the hands of donors.

Why is higher education important to you?

My mother and father were both first-generation college graduates. In my mother’s case, her nursing degree allowed her to leave her small town in west Texas and venture to Arizona for a storied career in nursing and the opportunity to meet her husband. My father’s engineering degree enabled him to rise to the No. 2 position in the Arizona Highway Department. What I have always admired in both of them was that they chose to work as public servants, helping their communities to thrive. 

What drew you to the University of South Carolina?

The Gamecock nation is proud and strong, and our alumni are second to none. I am so excited to help our alumni and other donors fulfill their passion for South Carolina by giving to programs that will change and save lives and have meaningful impact on their community. I was impressed by the clear vision of preeminence that President Caslen has for the university, and I know that donors will be inspired to help achieve that vision. 

Why should alumni get involved in supporting their alma mater?

My dreams for South Carolina are to inspire alumni and donors to find a way to fulfill their own personal dreams and passions by supporting students, programs and research at the university. Gifts to higher education are uniquely positioned to save and change lives. The difference between a good university and a great one rests in the hands of donors. Their support makes it possible for students to study who might not be able to do so otherwise and for researchers to find answers to complex challenges.    

What shaped you into the person you are now?

I was born in Holbrook, Arizona, a small community in northeast Arizona on old Route 66 and near the Navajo reservation. But I spent most of my childhood in central Arizona, in a copper-mining community called Globe, located adjacent to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. I grew up with a deep appreciation for the impact of diversity on the health and vibrancy of a community and for the impact that higher education can have. 

My husband, Vince, and I have been married 33 years and have three children and two grandsons. He’s the director of market engagement for HireGenics. I started my career at the University of Arizona, where I received my undergraduate and master’s degrees. In 2009, I joined the Texas A&M Foundation as assistant vice president. In 2014, I became vice president of university advancement at Georgia College, Georgia’s public liberal arts university. I am currently completing my Ed.D. in higher education leadership from City University Seattle. I have been a Peloton devotee since 2016 and a huge fan of fast-pitch softball. 

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