Faculty and Staff

  • Photo of Ava Willis-Barksdale

Ava Willis-Barksdale

Ava Willis-Barksdale, associate vice president for advancement, joined Ursinus in January of 2019 with 30 years of success in education, healthcare, fundraising support, and organizational leadership.

She has worked in both higher education and in K-12, most recently as vice president and director of human resources at Girard College in Philadelphia. President Brock Blomberg recently announced an expansion of Ava’s role to include more day-to-day management of the advancement division. Ava is encouraged by the strong possibilities at Ursinus. She says the college “has a great opportunity to be an example of a number of things in the liberal arts space” and says we have “laid a great foundation for post-COVID growth at the college.”

Ever since first moving into a management role, Ava has always set her sights on building strong teams. The balance she says is “in leaving space for people to be creative and at the same time moving together toward a common goal.”

In addition to the role of team-builder, Ava sees the mission of the advancement division growing even more important as a result of the pandemic. In addition to the shift in work and function that the whole world has experienced, the team has spent much of the past 10 months reminding donors and the campus community about the importance of unrestricted giving.

In keeping with the college’s strategic commitment to inclusion and diversity, Ava’s role includes serving on DART and various committees across campus. She is a music lover and a proud product of an HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) education.