Fuel for the Fire
Susan Cruse, new head of development, seeking investors to ‘share the vision’
By Paige P. Parvin
Susan Cruse, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, arrived this summer to lead a new era of fund-raising that will fuel the University’s ambitious ten-year strategic plan for academic and campus development.
Cruse most recently served as vice president for development and alumni relations for Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. Since 1991, she has held senior fund-raising positions at UCLA; the University of California, Irvine; and Johns Hopkins, with the exception of a period from 1997 to 1999 when she served as director of university alliances for the global corporation TRW.
To learn more about the University Strategic Plan, visit Emory University Strategic Planning Home.
“We are indeed fortunate to have attracted to Emory a leader such as Susan,” said President James Wagner. “She has compiled an impressive track record in complex academic environments that closely resemble our own constellation of programs and schools.”
Yet Cruse has been quick to identify Emory’s special strengths. “What really set Emory apart for me,” she says, “was the leadership team. There is tremendous vision and commitment to making an impact in the world. Frankly, just having a strategic plan sets Emory apart from most universities.”
The close connection between Emory’s vision and the upcoming comprehensive campaign, expected to launch publicly late next year, is an asset to fund-raising efforts and to the University as a whole, Cruse says. “Too often, campaigns focus on the dollar goal,” she says. “Here, the campaign goals align with strategic plan goals. Our role is to accelerate the implementation by finding stakeholders who share the vision.”
One of Cruse’s biggest challenges, she adds, is overcoming the perception that Emory is wealthy and has little need for philanthropy. But she is confident that she and her team can convey to donors the message that Emory is a worthy investment—and the greater the support, the greater the impact of the University’s intentions.
Cruse is inspired by what she calls a new generation of philanthropists.
“Now I think philanthropists see themselves more as investors who want a successful outcome,” she says. “They’ve decided they want to partner with the institution that will provide the best return on that investment.”