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Saturday, Aug 23, 2014

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Second open forum held in vice president for university advancement search


On Thursday, Bryan Benchoff, candidate for the position of vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Ohio University Foundation, spoke with the Ohio University community during his open forum.

It was the second and final open forum with a candidate for the position. On April 7, Lori Lewis met with the OHIO community.

Benchoff is currently the president and CEO of the University of South Dakota Foundation. From the outset of his remarks, he emphasized an institution-wide focus on philanthropy.

“It’s really everyone’s job,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to solicit a gift, but everyone is going to be a part of it if we’re going to move the agenda forward and build a stronger institution.”

He also spoke about the recent recession and what it means to fundraising in higher education.

“The good news is … higher education tends to snap back quickly,” Benchoff said. “Take the recession of your choice, 2001, 1989, keep on going, higher education is pretty resilient with its donors. I think that’s tied to the belief system, the trust, the confidence the donors and the alumni have in their respective institutions."

According to Benchoff, part of maintaining that trust, is keeping the University consistent in its messaging.

“As long as everyone is singing from the same hymnal, so to speak, and communicating those values and the mission, that’s what’s going to keep people there. That’s what’s going to keep you in front of them. That’s going to keep an institution on top of the list,” he said.

In response to a question about where his passion for higher education fundraising comes from, Benchoff replied, “The notion of having an opportunity to work with good people to make truly wonderful things happen for an institution. Particularly an institution of size, of quality like this.”
 
He then continued, emphasizing the collaboration between academics and advancement that he would like to see.

“The fun part is shaping [the type of gift]. When you’re talking to a donor who’s going to make a sizable gift, or even a modest gift, they have very real notions and expectations about what that will ultimately do for an institution. And, to be a part of that ….to get it the way people want … that’s what works for me.”

Kent Smith,Vice President for Student Affairs and chair of the search committee for the position, said the plan is to have the successful candidate named by late April.