When John Donohue first heard about the College, he didn’t know very much about it. But as he read more and talked to various people, he was soon impressed and began to wonder, “Why don’t I know more about this institution?”
Donohue most recently served as executive vice president for development at the United Negro College Fund, but for the 13 years before that worked on college campuses heading college advancement programs.
“I wanted to go back to the college campus,” Donohue said. “I missed students.”
However, working at colleges wasn’t always in his career plans. At the State University of New York at Oswego, Donohue studied biology and was certain he was going to be a biologist. Yet he soon realized that this wasn’t his passion and, after college, he began pursuing a career in human resources, working for United Way as a professional fundraiser immediately after graduation.
After a national search, the College chose Donohue as its vice president for College Advancement. Donohue officially began his career at the College on Monday, Oct. 22 and oversees fundraising, communication and marketing, government relations, alumni relations and the College’s private and gift receiving foundation.
“The institution deserves to be better known across the nation and even around the world,” Donohue said. “It’s an outstanding institution with a great reputation.”
But with every new job comes new obstacles. After Donohue’s first week at the College, Hurricane Sandy hit. However, this gave him a chance to reflect on his first week as the vice president of college advancement and to begin thinking and planning about how he wants to proceed with the oversight and management of his department. It also gave him the time to get to know the campus better.
In fact, during the week that students had off because of the storm, Donohue ate his meals in Eickhoff and sat with various students in order to get to know them.
“I wanted to hear their story, where they come from,” he said. “By nature, I’m a story-teller. I like to create narratives that really kind of paint a picture for folks because that’s what helps people reach a decision that they want to support an institution. They have to hear a story that compels them.”
In the near future, Donohue plans to reach out to alumni through events and wants to create chapters around the country where College alumni can come together more frequently. He also plans to utilize social media to reach out to younger alumni in particular.
Currently, Donohue is taking the time to meet with each and every member of his staff to get to know them and understand what their skills and inspirations are in order to utilize them to reach the goals of the College.
“I’ve always been a believer that, as a head of a department, my responsibility is to help my staff,” Donohue said.
Donohue believes that alumni can play a crucial role in recruiting prospective students and wants to set up mentoring programs between alumni and current students.
For December, Donohue’s goal is to get in touch with as many alumni as possible and renew their gifts and contributions. His plan is to focus heavily on alumni engagement through major gifts and to work with alumni who have significant means to do impactful things at the College, such as supporting scholarship foundations and supporting faculty in research.
As for now, Donohue is looking forward to the day when he can say that the College has one of the finest advancement programs. He’s also looking forward to the days when the College can announce major gifts and scholarship programs on a daily basis.
“One of my tasks, one of my aspirations is to help build the national image for The College of New Jersey,” Donohue said.
He explained that he’s had a wonderful career thus far, and is excited to start a new chapter of his life here at the College.
“I’m just really pleased to be here,” Donohue said. “And this institution, from what I can see so far, just has fabulous students, a really talented, accomplished faculty and a great future. I can’t think of any place I’d rather be.”