Purdue Profiles: Judy Schumaker

August 21, 2012  

Judy Schumaker

Judy Schumaker, director of advancement for the College of Health and Human Sciences. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
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Judy Schumaker could write a book about her long history at Purdue. From undergraduate to development officer in the College of Liberal Arts to director of advancement at Purdue Libraries, where she served for almost a decade. Now she's writing her next chapter.

In January 2011, the Purdue alumna became the first director of advancement for the new College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS). Launched in 2010, the college brought nine existing academic units from three different colleges together to focus on vital issues related to improving health and the quality of life.

Now, with Purdue poised to build further on these initiatives, with a health and human sciences research facility and the University's Life and Health Sciences Park on the horizon, Schumaker's enthusiasm for her most recent assignment is, well, contagious.

After so many years at Purdue Libraries, tell us about your transition to the College of Health and Human Sciences.

Well, I think it's a very exciting opportunity to work for a college focused on health and human behavior! And I saw an opportunity to build the new college's advancement department from the ground up by building a new constituency. We have a 50,000 alumni base, but many don't identify with the college yet.

Libraries did not have a defined constituency, so I spent 10 years establishing that. I believe my experience and success in this area is one of the best assets to bring to HHS. Behind any success in fundraising are relationships with people.

What are your specific responsibilities at HHS?

My staff and I are responsible for philanthropy to the college. We have fundraisers, an event planner, an administrative assistant, and a close relationship with the communication director. I know from my experience how communications and strategic marketing have a direct impact on what we do in fundraising. Our team is responsible for alumni and donor relations as well, which is a very important function as we bring people together.

I am fortunate and honored to be a member of Dean [Christine] Ladisch's leadership team. It means development and alumni relations have a place at the table when we're discussing critical issues.

What are some of the challenges facing the College of Health and Human Sciences?

We are starting on our third year as a college, so we are still establishing baselines. Three very different college cultures came together so there were layers of complexity in trying to form a new entity, and it's going well. Dean Ladisch is a great consensus builder and decision maker. In fact, all the deans and department heads are focused on setting a collaborative tone within their own areas and working together to build the college.

One of my biggest challenges is learning nine different departments and schools as I'm trying to raise funds for our initiatives. I'm learning on the fast track!

What opportunities do you see approaching?

For me, professionally, it's a prime time to make an impact on the direction of the college. Some of our signature research areas are beginning to emerge, and we're about to unveil our first strategic plan this fall. I find it exciting, energizing and hopeful because it is critical for us to interpret that plan to our alumni and friends. It is the story we tell when we reach out and show them there's a place for them to make an investment and be a part of what we're doing.

And our programs are just outstanding. We sponsor Purdue's new Women's Global Health Institute, along with Discovery Park, which we launched this spring. It brought over 60 faculty researchers from across the campus to focus on women's health issues and build on our strengths in nutrition, disease prevention and early detection through biomedical technologies.

In what other ways are you involved in the community? What is one thing people may not know about you?

My husband, Dan, and I are volunteers at our church, serving on the stewardship committee and in adult education. And I am a trustee on the board of the Serra Club. We also coordinate the Outdoor Kitchen and cook for the annual Germanfest at St. Boniface. They think Dan can cook, but I've seen little evidence of that at home! I'm usually behind the scenes, but you'll see me out in the crowd when the band strikes up the chicken dance. I love that dance!

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