When Diana Blasdel was an undergraduate at Temple University studying glass in the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, she was provided a key "jolt of reality" that set her on her path connecting alumni with their passions and excitement to support the next generation of Owls.
"What brought me to Tyler in the first place was my passion for blowing glass," said Blasdel, the newly appointed Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Affairs for University College. "The second I got there, however, Professor Jon Clark, who founded that program and did my portfolio review, looked at me and said, 'You can't just blow glass.'
That revelation proved to be a foundational shift in Blasdel's professional trajectory, one that reconnected her to a familial desire to help make communities better than they found them.
"I come from a family of people who are deeply engaged in the communities where they live — they love to help people. I grew up around people with a fully developed sense of what it means to give back and participate in their communities," said Blasdel, a Temple legacy whose mother and father are both Temple alumni. "Everything my family had been saying to me for years came rushing back in. What I loved so much about blowing glass was how it connected with other people; that sparked something in me. I knew I wanted to help other people find their calling."
Working in development and building lasting connections with alumni, Blasdel said, "I get to help other people find their spark and their joy. I want to help them discover what will drive them and what will excite them to support the incredibly varied students we have throughout University College."
University College has taken the lead in giving students numerous avenues to achieve their dreams. University College includes the Temple University Ambler, Harrisburg and Center City campuses, the Ambler Arboretum, Temple Ambler Field Station, Summer and Special Programs, Digital Education, the Bachelor of General Studies program, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), the Real Estate Institute, Temple Pre-college Programs, the Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy, and Temple's Certificate in Undergraduate Sustainability.
"With her diverse background — development for Temple schools and colleges; supporting the arts in various capacities; helping individuals and families find work/life balance — Diana brings a unique perspective to her new role that will be a true asset to the campuses and programs that comprise University College," said Dr. Vicki Lewis McGarvey, Vice Provost for University College and Director of Temple University Ambler. "We've identified several programs within University College that need more of that sort of philanthropic support to ensure we are able to provide the best experiences for our students. Diana's efforts will be essential in identifying the audiences interested in supporting our initiatives."
As Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Affairs for the University College, Blasdel is responsible for developing, executing, and overseeing communications and fundraising strategies designed to generate engagement, and communicate the college's mission, vision, and achievements to various stakeholders.
The Assistant Director coordinates with central Institutional Advancement and alumni relations staff to plan and execute annual giving campaigns and alumni events and develops strategies to engage University College alumni.
Blasdel said she was drawn to the position "because there is so much happening within University College."
"University College itself is brimming with opportunity — Temple Center City's 50th anniversary, new leadership at Temple Harrisburg, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and how robust and beloved it is throughout the region," she said. "Just walking around Temple Ambler today, two years after the tornado, you see growth literally and figuratively taking place. There's programmatic growth — adapting and evolving to meet the needs of our surrounding communities and within Temple as well."
Her initial goal, Blasdel said, is to learn more about all of the University College programs and their alumni.
"I love how so many of the programs here are cross-collaborative and so many of them serve different types of students, whether it's presenting research from the Temple Ambler Field Station, working with the Area Agency on Aging in Harrisburg, teaching new realtors at Temple Center City, or training the next generation of park rangers at the Ambler Campus," she said.
"What has resonated with me the most is University College's Bachelor of General Studies program. They are students who are taking a different path to achieve their dreams.
The BGS program "has produced a new, enthusiastic group of Temple alumni," Blasdel said.
"I want to hear their stories. I want to know how we can help them stay involved in the program and University College; they are so important to the success of the program and to the students that will follow in their footsteps," she said. "In everything I've ever been a part of and found joy in, the constant has been change and making order out of the disparate pieces that go into a larger whole. While there are so many different programs within University College and the needs of those students is different — the park ranger cadets do not have the same story, needs or interests that the BGS alumni do — we are all working toward a common goal, which is to provide the best support for our current students and our alumni."
Blasdel is certainly no stranger to Temple. In addition to being an alumnus and a legacy — both parents attended Temple — between 2012 to 2015 she had roles at the university as the Associate Director of Development for the Klein College of Media and Communication and the Associate Director of Development for the Tyler School of Art and Architecture and the Boyer College of Music and Dance.
"Returning to Temple has been amazing. I've been in meetings already where I'm seeing familiar faces — it has felt like coming home in a lot of ways," she said. "Working at the Temple Ambler campus has also felt like coming home for totally different reasons. This campus has a soul, it has a heart, and that can't be replicated. You can hear it when you talk to (Ambler Arboretum Director) Kathy (Salisbury) or Vicki (Lewis McGarvey). Being here is nostalgic for me because I also took a few classes here — this is a campus with a story, and it feels so good to be here."
Prior to joining the University College team, Blasdel was the Advancement Assistant for Commonwealth Youthchoirs, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization with a mission to "transform the lives of young people through the power of making music together."
"It is a community-based and in-school based choir program. The singers come from all over greater Philadelphia. A lot of our singers found their people in the choir — the students experienced their lives together," she said. "Students would start at age seven and stay with the choir for 10 years, moving through school and graduating together. They worked incredibly hard and were able to travel the world during summer concert tours."
Prior to her time at Commonwealth Youthchoir, she was the Manager of Development and Donor Relations for the Thirdpath Institute from 2016 to 2022, an Account Manager with Jonathan Eifert Public Relations from 2016 to 2019, and the Assistant Manager of Merchandise for the North American tour of the musical Jersey Boys from 2015 to 2017. She was additionally the Individual Giving Manager for the Walnut Street Theater from 2009 to 2012.
"What I love about being in this profession is that it is always different and always changing. It's never the same thing twice and the people are always different and often fascinating," she said. "You never know their story and how they are connected to Temple and University College in amazing, unexpected ways."
The connections of University College alumni to their respective programs and to Temple certainly doesn't end when they graduate, Blasdel said.
"Our alumni are an essential part of the lifeblood of University College. We want to share their stories with our current students so that they can learn and become inspired by the experiences of our alumni and the friends of our campuses and programs," she said. "At the end of the day, it all comes down to the students. We want our alumni's Temple experiences to further new Temple experiences."