Jacqueline Patterson, MPA, doesn’t want to play it safe. She thinks it’s important to take risks to learn so an institution can grow and challenge itself.

That’s what she’s been doing as the interim vice president of Institutional Advancement and Community Relations at Salus University since being named to the position in June 2019. And, that’s what she said she will continue to do now that the “interim” tag has officially been removed from her title.

Salus president Michael Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE, officially elevated Patterson into the role March 4, 2020. 

Jacquie Patterson“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has worked with Jacquie, given her professionalism and extremely successful fundraising initiatives,” said Dr. Mittelman in an email announcement to faculty, students and staff. “Jacquie has clearly shown that she’s the right person to take the helm of this important Salus position.”

Her fearless approach to the role, willingness to think outside the box and determination to learn from things that don’t work out as planned were key ingredients for Patterson in earning the position.

“I appreciate that the President’s Council – and particularly Dr. Mittelman – have allowed me to try different things and take those risks,” said Patterson. “We did the Centennial Tour and not every stop was successful, but I think we learned a lot that will help inform us on how we move forward.”

Patterson originally started at Salus in October 2018 as a major gifts officer, a new role in the department. She had been chief advancement officer at Education Works, the largest nonprofit after-school program provider in the City of Philadelphia, before arriving on campus. The Office of Institutional Advancement was experiencing some challenges at the time, and her role quickly evolved as she took on more tasks. 

As the institution advanced into 2019, Patterson helped plan the University’s Centennial Gala. Shortly thereafter, a perfect storm hit the department – its vice president resigned and the staff, already shorthanded, experienced some turnover. 

Jacquie Patterson and Dr. Satya Verma“I saw that as a great opportunity to restructure Institutional Advancement, and then come up with a vision and a strategic plan for the next three years,” she said. “And, we did just that. We had identified a number of weaknesses and our strategic plan was made to align with the University’s strategic plan.”

Patterson sees several areas for growth, including with key stakeholders, alumni groups in each of the University’s Colleges and with the Board of Trustees, who Patterson said have been generous in their giving and have allowed the University to leverage board members’ outside relationships as well. 

In terms of additional fundraising opportunities, she believes the University needs more touchpoints with alumni.

“When I started we had maybe 17 conferences that we were attending. Now we’re at about 30 conferences across the board for all the Colleges,” said Patterson. “Our department does fundraising not just for the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), which is our founding College and on whose shoulders we stand, but also for our newer Colleges. And, we’re looking at how we work with our younger alums. We’re developing a number of new initiatives for our younger alums – networking events and pop-up happy hours around the Mid-Atlantic Region.”

She’s also strengthened the department’s fundraising operations by developing a new policy for the various ways to give; creating a “Ways to Give” guide; and cleaning up the department’s database of information, all while still being understaffed.

“We’re working more closely with the faculty to develop relationships with industry. We’re also seeking out more grant funding, which has been a missed opportunity to grow our community outreach,” said Patterson. “We lean very heavily on our alumni base and we need to diversify that. Our vision is to build out scholarships not only for PCO but for the other Colleges as well. We also want to build our endowment funding for facilities and for our outreach programs. Those are three areas where we would like to see significant growth for the University.”

As of the end of 2019, the department has raised $4.2 million of the $5 million goal set to be raised by the end of 2020, funds that will be used for scholarships, facilities and mission support. 

“This is my first opportunity in a university setting and I’m glad that my colleagues believed in me enough to fulfill the duties of the role,” said Patterson. “A lot of the faculty and staff have been very supportive. What I’ve liked about my time at Salus is that I’ve never felt anyone holding me back. The only person that can hold me back is myself, if I don’t take those chances.”