Purdue Profiles: Nathaniel Coghlan

January 21, 2015  

Nathaniel Coghlan

Nathaniel Coghlan, relations manager for the Honors College. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke)
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Nathaniel Coghlan's career path has taken him across industries and the country—now, he's landed at Purdue, where he's dedicated to recruiting students and coordinating philanthropy for the Honors College.

Coghlan is relations manager for the Honors College. In that role, he works to bring some of the nation's brightest students to the Honors College and helps build the college's foundational future.

What are your primary responsibilities as the Honors College's relations manager?

I work with all of the Honors College's constituencies, including current and prospective students, alumni, our advisory council, and external partners who are interested in coordinating with the Honors College to help it grow. My job duties are split roughly evenly between working with new and prospective students and coordinating fundraising activities.

What are some of the Honor College's major fundraising projects?

Right now, we're focusing a lot of effort on fundraising for our new Honors College facility and residence hall. We have finalized the building plans, and we're very excited about it. It's going to be a unique place on campus because it's going to combine residential space with learning and co-curricular spaces.

To be more specific, the facility will have room to house all of our 550 incoming freshman each year plus 250 upperclassmen. It also will have spaces that will serve as a library, a function hall, music practice spaces, collaborative classrooms and study rooms, and collaborative labs focused on science, technology, engineering, agriculture and math, or STEAM.

 Plus, the Honors College's offices will be in this new facility. It's always been important to us to be engaged and interactive with our students -- to be open and discursive with them about their education and ways to improve the Honors College experience -- and this facility will allow us to put that philosophy into practice.

We plan to open this new facility in fall 2016, so we're busy hammering out all the details as well as looking for naming opportunities for the building.

What's another of your ongoing fundraising activities?

We're in the early stages of creating a scholarship fund for students who have been admitted into the Honors College.

We firmly believe that all students who meet the rigorous standards of admission to the college, and who are committed to receiving the unique, interdisciplinary education that we provide, should be able to pursue their bright futures regardless of their financial situation. This scholarship fund will help remove those financial barriers for them.

What are some of your recruiting activities?

I serve as the primary point of contact for all of the Honors College's applicants and pre-applicants. That means I work with students who are in high school and are in our target audience, and I work with students who have been invited to join the Honors College. I also work with parents and third-party entities to identify and recruit students.

Part of my job includes traveling and speaking to students across the country. For example, I've been to Boston and Chicago to speak at events where, historically, students have the interest and aptitude to potentially join the Honors College.

In general, we want students who are engaged and engaging to join the Honors College. We're interested in self-starters who start others, as well -- students who want to and can excel in our rigorous but rewarding environment.

How did your career path lead you to the Honors College?

My background is in music. While I was working on my undergraduate degree in philosophy and women's studies, I took a break to work as a full-time professional musician. When that ran its course, I returned to school at the University of New Hampshire. That's when I really got interested in how a university works from an administrative standpoint.

More specifically, I realized that education is an important process to be involved in. Education is simultaneously a democratizing and empowering force; it truly benefits society as well as individuals. And, personally speaking, my life has been immeasurably better because I went to college.

I wanted to be part of that on a professional level, so I went to Arizona State University and earned a master's degree in education administration. I also worked as recruitment coordinator for the College of Public Programs there. Later, I was made aware of Purdue's Honors College, and when I had the opportunity to join I didn't hesitate.

Purdue is a great university with a great history and a great future. The Honors College is going to be an important part of that future, and I'm proud to involved in its endeavors.

Writer: Amanda Hamon Kunz, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu 

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