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Neuman brings expertise to UCSD

Vice chancellor takes on fundraising, image-building

Debra Neuman is an Easterner in a West Coast world who has brought her expertise in communications and fundraising to her new role as UCSD’s vice chancellor for external relations.

It’s her job to connect the campus to the community and to help raise its profile, while increasing financial support from individuals and corporations, she explained in a recent interview. She also oversees all university communications and public affairs.

“It’s all about building a reputation and awareness and telling the university’s story in concert with the values of the University of California and our contributions to the economy,” Neuman said.

As a young campus in only its 50th year – compared with the likes of her alma mater Wesleyan University which was founded in 1831 – UCSD also needs its alumni to both help tell the story and support the campus, she noted.

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Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said in announcing Neuman’s appointment to the post, which pays $295,000, that “Deb’s a perfect match for the needs of UC San Diego now and in the years ahead.”

Building support

Neuman acknowledged that “developing and building private support for a public university is a big challenge” especially in the current economic climate. “But we’ll get beyond that.”

It will be up to her to help build what she called “broader, sustainable funding streams” to supplement UCSD’s budget in the face of the predicament the state faces, she explained.

With her background as chief fundraising officer for CARE, where she was involved in responding to the 2004 South Asia tsunami, and as vice president of corporate communications at IBM, where she was instrumental in the company’s participation and media relations during the Sydney and Nagano Olympic games, she seems well equipped.

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She said she got her “sea legs” in fundraising working with CARE, where much of her work focused on empowering women and finding sustainable solutions to poverty around the globe. At IBM, she managed many of the company’s high-profile sponsorships, including golf’s Masters Tournament, and the Tony Awards.

Diverse interests

When she’s not filling her diverse role on campus, which includes serving as president of the UCSD Foundation which oversees assets of more than $500 million, Neuman enjoys the ocean, although she says she doesn’t sail and isn’t much of a swimmer.

She also loves reading, particularly suspense novels, and running. In the corner of her office, is a torch from the Olympic Torch Relay which she carried in the run-up to the Atlanta games.

She also enjoys golf, a bug that was fueled on her first week in town when she attended the U.S. Open. She said she’s looking forward to testing her skills on the county’s many courses with her husband Paul, a retired IBM corporate spokesman.

Their 21-year-old son recently graduated from Emory University.