Ohio University President Duane Nellis announced the four finalists in the search for the university’s next vice president for advancement and president and CEO of the OU Foundation. 

“This position is a vital part of my leadership team and essential to the success of our strategic pathway related to ensuring a sustainable financial future since this individual will oversee the fundraising arm of the university,” Nellis wrote in a news release.

Each of the finalists will address questions from students, faculty and staff during open forums, all of which will occur during the last week of January. 

Here are the candidates for the position: 

JR Blackburn, Ohio University

Blackburn has served as OU’s assistant vice president for development and associate campaign manager since 2012. He has been with the university since 2008. 

In his current position, Blackburn oversees a 53-person team of fundraisers, unit leaders and professional staff, according to his resume. He also manages volunteer efforts for the OU Foundation board and the “Promise Lives” fundraising campaign. 

Blackburn previously served as the university’s executive director for constituency development, and the senior director for development for the Scripps College of Communication. 

Prior to working for OU, Blackburn served as director of the Office of College Relations and Advancement for Hocking College, and was a consultant for the office of the president from 2000 - 2005. 

Blackburn holds a master's of business administration from Franklin University in Columbus and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ohio State University. 

His forum will be held Thursday, Jan. 25 at 3:15 in the Baker Center Theater. 

Christopher Brittin, Drexel University 

Brittin has served as vice president for institutional advancement at Drexel University in Philadelphia since 2015.

Prior to his promotion to vice president, Brittin’s title was senior associate vice president for institutional advancement — a position he held for five years.

According to his resume, Brittin led Drexel’s development office in closing more than $80 million in major gift contributions. In conjunction with his position in the office of institutional advancement, Brittin is an adjunct professor at Drexel, teaching a course in sports fundraising. 

As an adviser to the president and other university leaders, Brittin promotes “an aligned strategy for developing and communicating transformative initiatives,” according to his resume. 

Brittin holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from Drexel and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Temple University in Philadelphia. 

His forum will be held Friday, Jan. 26 at 3:15 p.m. in the Baker Center Theater.

Rickey McCurry, University of Tennessee System

McCurry is the University of Tennessee System’s vice president for development and alumni affairs and programs, president and CEO of the UT Foundation, and executive director of the UT Alumni Association. 

During his time in office, McCurry has secured “in excess” of $200 million in each of the university’s last three fiscal years, according to his resume. 

Prior to working with the University of Tennessee System, McCurry served as vice president for institutional advancement at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology for four years. He also served as vice chancellor for institutional advancement at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

McCurry holds a law degree from the North Carolina Central University School of Law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in history from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. 

His forum will be held Monday, Jan. 29 at 3:15 p.m. in Baker Center Room 240. 

Nico Karagosian, University of Cincinnati Foundation

Karagosian has worked with the UC Foundation in various capacities since 2014, and currently serves as its vice president of advancement and executive director. 

As a member of the UC Foundation’s senior leadership team, Karagosian is responsible for managing campaign operations, presidential initiatives and communications for the fundraising arm of UC and UC Health.

Prior to working with UC, Karagosian was senior director of development for The Hawn Foundation in Miami Beach, Florida, an international organization founded by actress Goldie Hawn. He also served as senior director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida, as well as assistant director of development at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York.

Karagosian holds a master's degree in technology management and a master’s degree in health systems administration from State University of New York Polytechnic Institute.

His forum will be held Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 3:15 p.m. in the Baker Center Theater. 



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