Q&A with Cheryl Chunn of DAR

From the Spring 2012 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Cheryl Chunn
Cheryl Chunn

Cheryl Chunn joined Owen this past November as the school’s Associate Dean of Development and Alumni Relations. She has worked at Vanderbilt for 10 years, six of which have been in development. Her previous roles include Director of Development and Director of Corporate Relations for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, as well as Senior Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Development. Chunn has a bachelor’s from Valparaiso University, a master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago.

Q: What drew you to this opportunity at Owen?

A: First, it’s Vanderbilt and my 10 years working in both the Medical Center and the university that drew me to Owen. It’s an incredible place to work. I’m amazed every day at all that’s going on here to help transform business, medicine, education and the community we live in.

Also what drew me was my previous work with Owen and Jim Bradford as a development officer with Corporate and Foundation Relations. I had the opportunity to visit with Owen alumni all over who were so passionate about their experiences here. The word they used was “family.” I heard that over and over again.

Q: How has your MBA shaped your approach to development and alumni relations?

A: My MBA has helped me understand that all philanthropists want to know their gifts are doing something meaningful. What I learned in my schooling was the question: “What’s the return on my investment?” I approach my development activity with that in mind. I want our alumni donors to know what Owen needs, why we need it and how they can help. Being able to steward them with the answer to that ROI question is my next step.

Also I know how hard I worked to get my degree and realize that I wouldn’t have the same perspective and experience without it. Likewise for our alumni, Owen has helped them not only in their professional lives but in their personal lives as well, and I believe they want to give back because of that fact.

Q: What are some of the short-and long-term goals for Owen’s development and alumni relations team?

A: One of the short-term goals is to learn how to work as a team. With many new team members, we’ll be forging ahead to build on the existing base of support from Owen to develop goals and structures that help our students, faculty and alumni.

Our more ambitious goals for the immediate future are to be able to accomplish the development and alumni relations goals of the strategic plan and to make Owen more successful. We will focus on increasing the number of endowed scholarships for students, strengthening alumni engagement and working with the dean on potential space and program needs.