Jennifer Ward, director of Development for Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN), will retire at the end of November after nearly 14 years of service at Illinois State and 24 years in higher education.
Ward joined Illinois State in 2003 when she accepted the position of director of Development for MCN, having previously served at Central Michigan University in the role of director of development for the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. For Ward, MCN has been like a family, and the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends have been partners in every project. Through these partnerships, she and the MCN community have accomplished a great deal.
Through close relationships with MCN’s most loyal donors, she was able to facilitate the establishment of more than 40 new scholarships and awards, all of which have impacted the lives of countless students. Her work with corporations and foundations has resulted in funding for the college’s computer lab, Nursing Simulation Lab, Partners for Investing in Nursing’s Future Project, and the MCN America’s Promise project, which now is now reaching children in 26 schools across the community.
In recent years, Ward secured nearly 20 estate commitments, which will yield millions of dollars in future support to the college; its faculty and staff; and, most importantly, its students. Under her watch, MCN’s endowment has nearly tripled.
Professionally, Ward earned the status of Certified Fund Raising Executive in 2015 and a certificate in fundraising management from Indiana University in 2004. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Association of the American College of Nursing. She has co-authored numerous articles in the medical field, and served in the Peace Corps as a health education volunteer in the mid-80s.
In addition to her fundraising responsibilities, Ward was a guiding force behind the establishment of MCN’s first Advisory Board, the Strategy and Planning Council. She was instrumental in conceiving and planning national alumni events, which highlighted the college and its proud history focused on producing exceptional nurse clinicians and leaders. Ward’s service extended into the college and alumni committees and her human touch helped guide events, publications, and celebrations.
In a field where turnover is common, Ward has far exceeded the average length of service. When asked why, she said: “It’s the people. Our leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and volunteers are and always have been deeply passionate about MCN, its history of innovation and excellence, and commitment to serving every vulnerable patient with care, dignity and respect. It’s a mission you can wrap your heart around.”
“Jenny has done an amazing job of connecting with all of our alumni and giving the college a solid foundation of philanthropy,” said MCN Dean Judy Neubrander. “Her incredible work has put us on a trajectory for great things in the future.”
Ward said she is looking forward to putting away her suitcase for a while, and following the advice of the great Dianne Clemens (retired assistant dean for the Undergraduate Programs): “Rest! Reflect! Refresh! Refire!”