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Life in the Spotlight

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Jeri Pat Gabbert

High school graduation season is right around the corner. While this ought to be a time of excitement, some are suffering from the anxiety of figuring out how they are going to pay for their education.

The Indiana University Northwest campus is blessed to have Jeri Pat Gabbert fighting for students that are in need of scholarship support.

“Some of our students have other financial obligations such as making sure their children are taken care of, making sure their parents’ health needs are met, and these factors could sometimes deter a person from furthering their education – I want to help them,” expressed Gabbert.

According to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the current 2017–2018 school year was: $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

“My role as Vice Chancellor for University Advancement and External Affairs provides me with the opportunity to assist students with external scholarship support, so that our students can have a chance and believe that their academic goals are attainable.”

Gabbert has served the IU Northwest campus for a little over five years and oversees the Offices of Alumni Relations, Development, Marketing & Communications and Special Events. This Wonder Woman’s passion for philanthropy started over twenty years ago.

“At Hanover College I was a communications studies major and was able to study and embrace the arts and science behind the practice of communications.”

Her love for communications developed into her becoming a communications graduate student with a focus in political rhetorics at Ball State University.

While at Ball State, Gabbert was fortunate to have her role as a teaching assistant to help pay for school. After receiving her masters, Gabbert had the opportunity to serve on the fundraising team for former Governor of Indiana, Frank O’Bannon’s 2000 re-election campaign. O’Bannon’s untimely passing while in office propelled her to serve as the Executive Director of Fundraising for the Marion County Democratic Party and as a campaign liaison for the former Mayor of Indianapolis, Bart Peterson.

“I believe it’s important for alumni to give back, not only through philanthropy, but also through their time, and I wanted to do so by becoming an adjunct professor at my alma mater,” stated Gabbert.

It was there at Hanover College that she received and heeded another hint as to where her career was heading. While teaching, Gabbert stated that she was introduced to a career in higher education development.

“I realized that I could align my love for higher education with my experience in fundraising and that is when I made the shift to Valparaiso University to serve as a Development Director,” shared Gabbert. “When I was brought on it was the beginning of their ‘Our Valpo, Our Time’ campaign.”

Gabbert served Valparaiso University for nine years then moved into her position at IU.

“In my role at IU Northwest, I am afforded the amazing opportunity to build relationships with community leaders, alumni, faculty, staff, and students. This work is so very important, as each and every day, I know that I am helping our students to fulfill their dreams,” said Gabbert.

The vibrant Vice Chancellor foresees herself still raising scholarship money for her students and raising her two beautiful daughters to “give back to their community and be active and productive world citizens.”

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