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SUNY recognizes Ogdensburg native with employee award

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POTSDAM — In addition to being an alumnus, Jason N. Ladouceur has a family connection to SUNY Potsdam.

His wife, Michelle H., is a 1995 graduate. His mother, Cheryl C., graduated in 1964.

So it’s only natural that he is ecstatic to give back to the university as its director of planned giving.

Mr. Ladouceur, a 1994 graduate and Ogdensburg native, was recognized with the 2012 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

“It is an incredible honor. It is something I certainly didn’t look for or anticipate,” he said.

The award is the highest employee award offered in the SUNY system.

Since returning to SUNY Potsdam in 2001, Mr. Ladouceur has dedicated himself to improving the student experience. “I loved my education there and I always thought it would be nice to come back, and eventually we did,” he said. “Since that time I’ve worked with so many people all over the country.”

In the past year alone, he has secured approximately $3.5 million in gifts to SUNY Potsdam.

One of those gifts, from Kathryn K. and Donald L. Lougheed, was the largest from a living donor in SUNY Potsdam history. The funds were used to inaugurate a spring arts festival on the campus. In the past year, Mr. Ladouceur has secured gifts that brought distinguished guest conductors on campus and sent the entire Crane Symphony and Crane Chorus to Lincoln Center in New York City for a performance.

“I shared those gifts that were pretty momentous for the arts at Potsdam,” he said. “As we talked more, we thought about how they could perhaps enhance those gifts and allow the campus to truly take its role as the premier arts campus at SUNY.”

Mr. Ladouceur said his work affects all disciplines at SUNY Potsdam, not just the arts. Much of his work funds scholarships for talented or in-need students, he said.

“Scholarships are so very important. That is not limited to scholarships in the traditional sense, but also experience in learning opportunities for our students,” he said. “They are essential to our ability to help recruit good students to the college and help make it more affordable to help them get a good education.”

Cassie’s Harp, a memorial to students who died while pursuing a degree at the college, was built with a gift from the parents of Cassandra R. Davino, a sophomore who died in a car accident in 2008.

“It is an incredible thing to know how they feel about my relationship with them, their relationship with the college and perpetuating the memory of their daughter,” Mr. Ladouceur said. “Last year, when we dedicated the space, we had families there from the 10 students that had passed, and they all came back for it. It is one of the things I am most proud to have organized.”

Mr. Ladouceur travels around the country, visiting Potsdam graduates to arrange gifts. “I do major gift work with individuals,” he said. “What many have done is they make plans just intentions, and some choose to provide funding for what that gift will eventually support during their own lifetime so they can see the impact that their gift will make on the college.”

The process allows alumni to reconnect with the campus and community, Mr. Ladouceur said, one of his favorite parts of the job.

“I get to go out and meet with individuals that already had hopefully a special experience at Potsdam and we have that in common,” he said. “My job is to help them reconnect and rediscover what it was about Potsdam that impacted their lives. I get to share with them what is currently happening at the college and the vision for its future, and to listen to their stories. It is really through that listening that the connection and magic takes place.”

Though Mr. Ladouceur knows his work enriches his alma mater, he deflects the praise.

“Don’t feel I am deserving of the award. For me, it is a recognition of the benevolence and generosity of those I have come in contact with and enabled to make a difference in Potsdam’s future,” he said. “I’m glad to be here, that’s for sure.”

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