Bundy Seeks to Create Transformative Experiences for Students with Donor-Centered Approach
As a first-year student at Penn State, O. Richard Bundy III fully expected that his undergraduate years would produce a degree in architectural engineering. While his career has been distinguished by the figurative building of bridges around the world, Bundy routinely relies on tools of the trade most commonly associated with the liberal arts education he ultimately received during his pursuit of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in History, conferred in 1993 and 1996, respectively.
Bundy began a new job in a familiar setting on January 1, when he succeeded Rodney Kirsch as vice president for Development and Alumni Relations at Penn State. With more than 20 years of experience in public higher education fundraising, Bundy will serve as a member of the University’s senior leadership team, reporting directly to the president.
Most recently, Bundy was president and chief executive officer of the University of Vermont Foundation. At Penn State, he will provide strategic vision and leadership for every aspect of the University’s advancement operation, including frontline fundraising, alumni relations, event planning, major gift cultivation, corporate and foundation relations and more, in support of Penn State’s strategic goals and institutional missions.
Ironically, Bundy gained a very personal appreciation of philanthropy’s impact at Penn State when he was conducting research for his master’s thesis, a catalog of the coin collection that Fred B. Jacobson donated to Penn State in the early 1990s.
“It is a magnificent collection,” Bundy said. “There are several hundred coins in the collection, many of them from ancient Palestine, which is now the State of Israel. There are some Roman and Greek coins as well. Fred Jacobson had provided good notes with his gift, but he had never undertaken a comprehensive scholarly catalog of his collection. I was given that opportunity as a graduate student, and very much appreciated the philanthropic spirit of Fred’s gift. I had a lot of fun learning about the development of a coinage economy in the ancient Near East, and being able to literally hold the coins in my hand as I studied them was a phenomenal experience.”
The philosophy that has guided Bundy’s approach to development over the years is purely donor-centered. “What that means to me is that it is okay for the University to have a pre-set list of strategic funding imperatives for the institution that we hope donors might help fund,” Bundy said. “Then we listen very carefully to the donors about what they are passionate about, and we will do our very best to match their passion with their philanthropic investment.”
Bundy said the ultimate rewards of his profession are derived from helping to create the types of transformative experiences for students that foster lifelong relationships with their alma mater as proud and engaged alumni.
“When we are able to do that, I think that is magic,” Bundy said. “I get a great sense of personal and professional accomplishment when I see that happen.”
Bundy first moved to the State College area at age 8 when his father, O. Richard Bundy Jr., joined the Penn State faculty and began an association with the Penn State Blue Band that spanned more than 30 years. Bundy Jr. was director of the Blue Band from 1996 until his retirement in 2015. In 2011, Bundy III endowed a scholarship in honor of his father, to support student musicians in the Blue Band.
Bundy III also earned an MBA with a focus on integrative management from Michigan State University in 1999, and completed the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program in 2004.
A running enthusiast, Rich Bundy has competed in 39 marathons, including marathons on every continent except Australia (which he hopes to check off later this year). He is eager to run the trails and courses that were familiar to him as a member of the track and cross-country teams at State College Area High School.
Asked to describe the type of imprint he hopes to make on Penn State in his new executive leadership position, Bundy sounded just a bit like the architect he once aspired to be. “It would be to continue to grow the tremendous legacy of philanthropy at Penn State and obviously be successful in the new campaign; and to lay the groundwork for successive generations of continued philanthropic investment in a greater Penn State,” he said.
Professional architect or not, Bundy clearly is expert at crafting a blue print for success.