David J. Obedzinski (B.A. ’85, M.A. ’92)
What was your favorite class, professor, or fondest memory of Hofstra?
I attended Hofstra looking to study communications and continue the work I had started in high school, but I decided early on that I was looking for a different path. As a student in Warren Mintz’s sociology class, my eyes were opened to a subject that really appealed to me. While I didn’t know exactly how I would apply the subject, meaningful career opportunities presented themselves and I found that the foundation I received in the social sciences prepared me more for the challenges I encountered than I could have ever imagined.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
While a student assistant working in Dean Marc Dion’s office I learned about the opportunities I might take advantage of working at Hofstra. He was a good mentor and was instrumental in helping me down that path, encouraging me to consider a career with the University. Through that experience, I started my professional career as an admissions counselor for the University beginning in 1985.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I’m a professional fundraiser and I first started in this work at Hofstra. While working in the Dean of Students Office as an assistant dean, my second job at Hofstra, I was recruited to the Development Office by Margaret Shields, Rochelle Lowenfeld and then-President James Shuart. There I began my fundraising career as assistant director of special events for development working alongside Eve Glasser. I never looked back and continued in the development and alumni relations area at Hofstra and then on to numerous other wonderful organizations afterward.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
I’m pretty pleased with my own experience as a student at Hofstra, which was a mix of doing well in most of my classes and spending a good amount of time involved with student organizations. The classes grounded me and gave me a good foundation. The student organizations and my interactions with staff gave me a chance to lead and to be creative – a virtual life laboratory as it were. To this day most of my friends are those who I met on the second floor of the Student Center in my days with the Chronicle and the Screaming Dutchmen Booster Club. But looking back, given the opportunity, I would have given myself some advice to challenge my academic subjects a little more, to ask more questions and interact with the faculty more so as to receive even more feedback and information that I could use going forward.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
How has your degree helped you?
As I alluded to earlier, sociology was a perfect foundation for a career in fundraising and alumni relations. It teaches you to look at the world differently, to relate better to and appreciate many types of people in various situations and how to connect with them. Additionally, my master’s degree in community health administration, which I earned in 1992, gave me numerous business tools that I’ve employed continuously in my work within the science and art of philanthropic motivation.
You’ve held a variety of positions throughout your career. What has been the most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
It’s a tie… While leading the fundraising operation at New Britain General Hospital, which soon became the Hospital of Central Connecticut, I had the opportunity to lead a capital campaign that renovated and expanded Emergency Services and built a new Radiation Oncology Treatment Center for the Bray Cancer Center, among other projects. Building those facilities and seeing them in operation was very gratifying; however, my current position as vice president for development at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association is an extremely special situation. I’m the first non-alumnus invited to serve in this position and for me it’s a privilege to help lead a program that assists the Academy with training the future officers of our nation’s Coast Guard – a service that plays a vital role in our nation’s homeland security. The “welcome aboard” I’ve received has been tremendous and the Academy is a jewel here in New London, Connecticut. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit several of our nation’s Coast Guard facilities and I’m amazed everyday at what our service men and women are asked to do to protect us and how they perform exceptionally in those tasks.
In your eyes, what has changed the most about Hofstra since you were a student?
The campus continues to change and grow in positive ways, the course and degree selection is more varied than ever, and the stand of pine trees that my wife and I dedicated on campus just southeast of the stadium many years ago are bigger than we ever imagined. Unfortunately, some things have changed such as the elimination of the football program. Despite the administration’s efforts, I don’t think the case was made or explained adequately to many alumni, especially those of us who lived and died as members of the student booster club traveling to as many away games as possible and sitting in the stands for our home games regardless of the weather. Despite that major change, my wife and I have a very special place in our heart for the University and we’ve expressed that in our service through volunteering, in monetary contributions and in our future estate plans. There are good people doing wonderful things at the school and we owe a lot to the university that gave me my start, brought Linda and I together, introduced me to lifelong friends, and allowed me to earn a master’s degree while working.