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Mercyhurst appoints Cal Pifer new advancement VP

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mercyhurst University President Michael T. Victor has appointed Erie native Caleb Pifer, executive director of the Historical Society of Erie County, to the cabinet-level position of vice president for university advancement and director of major gifts, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Pifer replaces Monsignor David Rubino, who will continue at the university as special advisor to the president and chaplain for athletics. Ryan Palm, assistant vice president for advancement, becomes associate vice president for university advancement and director of development.

In making the announcement, Victor said, “Cal brings major fundraising experience to the university. He almost single-handedly raised the funds for the reconstruction of the Hagen History Center and breathed new life and purpose into the historical society. He has an ease with people, works effectively with major donors and has the ability to inspire others. We look forward to welcoming him into the Mercyhurst family.”

As head of the local historical society, Pifer completed the largest capital fundraising effort in the organization’s 116-year history, raising $4.1 million in 2014-2015. He is a former director of marketing and development at the Erie Maritime Museum, where he created major income-producing events such as the popular Mariner’s Ball. He has also worked professionally in Newport, Rhode Island, and Houston, Texas. 

Pifer grew up in Erie and Perth, Australia. Currently, he serves as vice chairman of Tall Ships America, is a corporator of UPMC Hamot Hospital, and is the past chairman of the Erie Irish Festival. He is a Knight of St. Patrick, member of the Pennsylvania Society, the Erie Club, the New York Yacht Club and the Erie Yacht Club.

“Mercyhurst is a first-class institution and President Victor has the vision and experience to take the university to even greater heights,” Pifer said. “I am honored to be part of that vision. Moving on from the historical society was not an easy decision. The position has always been much more than a job: it’s been a passion. However, I am leaving the organization in one of its strongest financial positions in recent history, and I will continue to be involved in the organization going forward.”

Meanwhile, in making the changes to his advancement department, Victor stressed that Monsignor Rubino will be an asset to him “as an advisor, and to athletics, particularly in expressing the Mercy spirit and the role it plays in all our lives.” Palm, he said, “is amazing at researching and developing private donors and will continue to serve us well in this position.”

All changes take effect Jan. 1, 2016.