It’s about finding money for scholarships. That’s the main mission, says Janet Fratella, Southern Oregon University’s new vice president for development and executive director of the SOU Foundation. 

Now on the job six weeks, Fratella says the Foundation funneled more than $1 million in the past year into scholarships — and she says finding more gifts to invest as endowments is important so they will provide an earnings stream for generations. 

“I hope to grow that. Endowments are critical for the university and students, for scholarships, faculty and academic programs,” says Fratella. “It’s so important to develop relationships with people who believe long-term in the viability and commitment that will stand 30 and 40 years.” 

Referring to the school’s hard times, budget whacks and “retrenchments” in a crashed economy of the last decade, Fratella observes, “SOU came through it. Everyone I talked to, faculty, staff, to a person, is a credit to that, the university emerging as robust as it is. People really believe in this as a very special place.” 

The new local governing board has also given “a sense of hope, energy and optimism” and understands the role of the university in the valley, she says. 

In connecting with thousands of alumni across the country, seeking their financial support for the school and students, Fratella says, “I met absolute loyalty and interest among them, in coming out of the last decade in a new and vitalized way.” 

Asked what makes a good development director, Fratella said, “It takes a good listener. Second, it takes meeting donors where they are, listening to their personal stories about what has inspired them in life and, third, matching donor interest with university priorities. 

Fratella's post pays $147,000. She holds master’s degrees in public administration, public policy and management; and educational policy and management, both from University of Oregon. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in communication from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is a member of the Association of Donor Relations Professionals, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Most recently, she was chief of staff for the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation. She has more than two decades of experience in the field of university advancement, including service as vice president of alumni and donor relations for the OHSU Foundation.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at