An interview with the college’s main money-maker: Susan Blanchard, assistant dean for development  

by Brooke Bunch

“Fundraiser” could be Susan Blanchard’s middle name.

For Blanchard, the assistant dean for development at OU-COM, soliciting money for the university’s medical school is second nature. Blanchard, who worked for more than a decade as a development professional at Ohio State University, helped to raise a record-high $3.5 million during the Ohio University Bicentennial Campaign.

She recently took a moment out of a busy day to talk about her career at the college and her passion for fundraising.

What brought you here to Ohio University?

Blanchard: I was drawn to OU-COM five years ago, mostly because I was looking for a better quality of life, but I still wanted to practice my profession at a premier organization. Ohio University and OU-COM impressed me from the very start and have truly fit the bill. The college is an institution that I can get my arms around and feel like I am making a difference. I enjoy making my unique contribution to the good of the order. 

How much do you raise in a typical year?

Blanchard: We’ve raised an average of $800,000 a year over the last five years.

How are the funds used?

Blanchard: Our donors have given to several high-priority areas, including funding a chair in diabetes and cardiovascular research, and 11 new scholarship funds. Decisions about where contributions are used are totally determined by the donor’s intentions. About 99.9 percent of all donors know, from the very first conversations, the areas where they want their contributions to have an impact. It can be anything from the Learning Resource Center to a special project like the Chip Rogers Tribute.

How has your area’s role changed over the years?

Blanchard: We have a greater focus on major gifts; we’ve enhanced the alumni direct mail program significantly and are increasing the number of one-on-one contacts. Now that we are approaching OU-COM’s first 25th class reunion (Class of 1980), reconnecting with our maturing alumni is critical to the college’s long-term future. I also believe that closely partnering faculty and staff in fundraising efforts is essential.

What’s next?

Blanchard: We just finished the university Bicentennial Campaign. OU-COM raised $3.5 million — more than the college had ever raised in a similar period of time. The next step is to continue the momentum that’s been built up over the last couple of years and move into the next campaign with an even stronger volunteer and alumni base.

What do you like most about your job?

Blanchard: I enjoy building relationships with our existing donors and cultivating future donors. And, Jack Brose is a great dean to work with. Bringing the faculty and donors together for the purpose of advancing the college is a real honor and privilege for me; it’s very satisfying. Fundraising, in many ways, is a visionary process. The money raised lays a foundation for achieving the college’s goals and mission. That’s really what it’s all about.

What do you like most about Ohio University?

Blanchard: I love the family “feel” of OU-COM, OU and, really, the whole Athens community. People really care and are not only willing, but actually excited, to help each other on so many levels, professionally and personally. Again, I like being part of a place I can put my arms around and truly embrace. I feel like I’m doing that everyday here.

What are some things you enjoy outside OU-COM?

Blanchard: Well, I’m a mentor, which is very fulfilling. Having a positive impact on our students’ lives is a kick. If you are wondering why, just ask my three twenty-something children: I’m still mentoring them whether they want it or not! I volunteer for a national dog rescue organization, have a passion for metal smithing and really enjoy living in the country. I get the best of both worlds, because my work frequently takes me to metropolitan communities, but I get to live in this wonderful, green environment.

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College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Last updated: 03/27/2008