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Career Development Center leader receives Big Ten award

By IU Bloomington Today

September 08, 2022

Patrick “Pat” Donahue, executive director for career development for the Career Development Center at Indiana University Bloomington, received the highest honor awarded to career service professionals at Big Ten schools: the David S. Bechtel Award for Outstanding Career Services Professional.

After an unanimous vote by the awards committee, Donahue has the honor of joining his predecessor, Alan McNabb, in being the second Indiana University Career Services Professional to receive the award.

The Bechtel Award is given to a professional who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to students’ career success at the campus level and within the profession at the local, regional or national level. The honoree must also demonstrate a significant contribution to the field through scholarship, innovative initiatives or the other endeavors impacting career services beyond the local campus community.

“Pat has been the driving force behind enhancing collaboration on a campus-wide level,” said Susan Simmons, Director of Career Services for the School of Public Health. “His greatest contribution to this effort was the establishment of the IU Bloomington Career Services Council shortly after his arrival at Indiana University.

“The Council brings together all directors monthly to collaborate on initiatives and share best practices. Over time, the Council has expanded to include committees on diversity and inclusion, career metrics, international services, and employer relations. This model was more recently adopted by the IU system through the Career Services Alliance with representation from all Indiana University campuses. Pat has been instrumental in shaping the IU Career Services Alliance to pool efforts across the entire state.”

Donahue has worked in university career services for over 30 years, the last 19 of which have been for IU Bloomington. Donahue is a champion for students, co-authoring a report which resulted in students having open access to job postings, career fairs and on-campus recruiting regardless of their major or school affiliation. He also secured $1 million to hire more career coaches in Arts & Sciences Career Services (now named the Walter Center for Career Achievement). Beyond campus, Donahue served four years as vice president of the Hire Big 10+ Career Consortium and hosted Allerton at IU Bloomington.

Donahue is honored to have been nominated and receive such a prestigious award, but notes that his true reward is seeing how his efforts benefit thousands of students every year.

“Career Services is the greatest profession in the world because of the impact we have on society,” said Donahue. “With the notable exception of whom you choose to marry, choosing a career is the most impactful decision we make. What other profession can make a difference in a person’s life in such a short amount of time? Even doctors must wait and see if the medicine works.

“By just listening to students and understanding their needs, we can immediately encourage them, help them figure out their potential and give them a plan for achieving their dreams. Very few other professions have that level of responsibility, so I am deeply honored to win the Bechtel Award.”