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OUS looks to future with new development director

Ohio University Southern is in the planning stages for its next big development campaign and a new face has stepped on board to pave the way into the future.

Matt Ward, Proctorville native and Ohio University alumnus, has taken on the role of director of development for the southern campus; a job that Dean Bill Willan said the 32-year-old is clearly well suited for.

“Matt is very well connected in the community, known in the community,” Willan said. “He is committed to the area. We had other (applicants) who had good credentials, but they weren’t quite as knowledgeable when it came to the potential for growth and development in the Tri-State area.”

Ward has been an active member of the Tri-State community for many years, so when OUS’s previous director of development, Bob Smith, now director of the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce, stepped down, he said had to go for it.

“I think it’s the involvement that I’ve always had in the Tri-State community that made me a good fit,” he said.

Ward’s political science degree from OU led to his position as a staff member for State Rep. John Carey and former Rep. Clyde Evans. He has also been member of Greater Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, the Huntington Chamber of Commerce, board member of the Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone and a financial adviser for Collins Career Center.

“(Matt has) been involved in the political arena, so he knows the initiatives that are happening, what is needed in the area,” Willan said. “He can connect the university with those various projects in ways that somebody who didn’t know the area as well wouldn’t be able to.”

Ward’s role as director of development involves campus fund raising efforts, scholarship initiatives, grant seeking and program funding.

Right now, Ward said he is working on a new, OU-wide campaign called Promise Lives. His role, he said, is to focus on the priorities for the southern campus, including matching prospects with donor gifts for the right amount that would reach their goal and to determine who those prospects would be.

“It is going to be publicly announced in 2012,” he said, “so right now it is a lot of the background research, organization, getting ready for the big gear-up.”

Willan believes that Ward will also help fill the growing gap in funding left by the state.

“When we look out into the future, it’s obvious that the funding from the state has probably been at its height,” Willan said. “It will continue to, I think, either level out or be reduced. What we can try to do is develop some account that will help us provide scholarships for students. Price of education has risen. Everyone knows the debt burden students sometimes take upon themselves. We’re going to try to keep that as low as possible.”

Ward said he feels optimistic about the future of OUS and the involvement it will continue to have in community activities and its economic development and is glad to be a part of it.

“Ohio University means a great deal to me,” he said. “It’s just an honor and a privilege to help do what I can to ensure it’s successful in the future.”