Kelley Saussy isn’t a civil engineer, but her role in the College of Engineering does build bridges.
As director of corporate engagement, she serves as “a bridge between the outside engineering world and the College of Engineering” by making connections between corporations and students.
“Development is not something I ever thought I’d go into career-wise. I always thought I would have a more student-facing role in higher education,” she said. “But I’ve realized through my time in this role how impactful fundraising and development is for students at any university.”
Saussy is from North Carolina and went to Appalachian State University for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. When she started looking for her first full-time opportunity after graduating, the University of Georgia was where she wanted to be.
“I had always been interested in UGA, so when I started job searching, this was my first choice,” she said.
Saussy accepted a position as an academic advisor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education in 2011. From there, she moved to the Career Center as a career consultant. In that position, she worked with several colleges and schools across campus, including the College of Engineering.
“The engineering students I met with always seemed to be really prepared for the conversations we had and extremely grateful for the advice they received,” she said. “That student population made an impact on me; they really impressed me.”
In 2014, Saussy took a new position as that particular college’s director of experiential programs, working with everything from the college’s internships to its co-op and study abroad programs. In 2016, she moved to her current position, which seemed like a natural fit, given the connections she made with corporations and organizations in her previous role.
Saussy’s position includes major gift fundraising. She works with companies on philanthropic efforts such as in-kind donations, equipment donations and named gifts. Additionally, she manages the college’s corporate partner program, which focuses on connecting employers and students with unique opportunities. Saussy also works with the Capstone Senior Design Program, in which students complete an academic yearlong project. Nearly 70% of those projects come from industry, and she helps coordinate project proposals and provides assistance throughout the process.
Saussy also coordinates events for the college, such as Employer of the Day, lunch and learn sessions and Engineers Week seminars.
“Hearing those stories of how grateful and thankful the students are and what an impact development has on their lives makes this job extremely worthwhile,” she said. “I feel so grateful to be able to have a part in that impact. Even though I’m not sitting in a room with students like I used to, my job is still very student-focused.”
In addition to connecting students with corporate partners, Saussy also serves as a link between those partners and faculty. As that point of contact, her goal is to be as helpful as possible and get everyone the resources they need.
Saussy said the most important thing she does is maintain consistent communication with corporate partners.
“Without checking in, we’re not always going to be their first thought. They’re not necessarily going to reach out to us first,” she said. “We make sure their needs are taken care of. We want them to know that we care about them as individuals, as well. We want to make sure they feel supported in whatever way they need.”
What Saussy really wants corporate partners to know is that the College of Engineering produces students who gain more than just an excellent technical education.
“Our students are our biggest point of pride,” she said. “We feel like we produce extremely well-rounded engineers. Not only are they learning the essential technical skills, but they’re also getting those professional development and practical skills that make them great team players and great leaders.”
Saussy’s favorite part of the job—when not hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic—is traveling and meeting new people during site visits and facility tours. She said she feels lucky to see “behind the scenes on how everything in our lives is made.”
Looking to the future, Saussy recently was accepted to the Learning, Leadership, and Organization Development Ph.D. program in the Mary Frances Early College of Education. She’s also looking forward to traveling internationally once that is safe to do again.
Outside of work, she enjoys painting. In fact, she started as an art major and has shown pieces in the North Carolina Museum of Art. She also worked with United Way of Northeast Georgia as a loaned executive, volunteers who donate their expertise and energy to assist with workplace campaign efforts.
Saussy said exciting things are happening at the College of Engineering. Specifically, the college is in the midst of renovations to the Driftmier Engineering Center, which should be complete in spring 2022.
“We’re on the cusp of something really great,” she said. “The renovations and new lab spaces we’re developing are propelling our college into the 21st century. It’s an exciting time to learn about the College of Engineering—reach out if you would like to know more!”