CHADRON – The Chadron State Foundation selected Ben Watson, a Chadron native and Chadron State College graduate, as its new Chief Executive Officer during its Board of Directors’ meeting Oct. 21. Watson began working for the CS Foundation as its first Director of Major Gifts in 2016. He replaces Connie Rasmussen, who announced her retirement in September.
Watson, who officially begins his new duties Jan. 2, 2018, is eager to get started.
“I love Chadron State College and the Chadron community. I’ve also been fortunate to meet our wonderful alumni of this institution who are committed to creating positive outcomes for Chadron State students and faculty,” Watson said. “The Foundation and Chadron State College has benefitted greatly from the leadership of Connie Rasmussen. While great progress has been realized, the needs remain significant. I look forward to working with the Foundation Board and the stellar staff at the Foundation and CSC to meet future challenges while supporting a place we all hold dear.”
The non-profit Chadron State Foundation raises money to support Chadron State College and provides scholarship and program support for students. As of June 2017, the CS Foundation has $18.1 million in endowment funds and more than $21.5 million in assets.
Also at the Oct. 21 meeting, Marjean Terrell was named Chair of the Foundation’s Board of the Directors. Terrell, who will serve a two-year term as Chair, is excited about working alongside Watson.
“We are so fortunate to have Ben on board. He has experience from working with Connie the last few years and he is going to do a tremendous job for us,” Terrell said. “He has a great love for Chadron State College and that comes through with how he approaches his job.”
Watson hopes to increase both those amounts by focusing on the Foundation’s comprehensive campaign, Next Horizon, which aims to raise $40 million in state and private support for capital, program enhancement and scholarship endowment objectives. Two capital project initiatives in Next Horizon include building a Sports Complex and renovating Elliott Field and Don Beebe Stadium, and renovating the Math Science Building.
The renovation to Elliott Field and Beebe Stadium is set to begin in November.
In addition to the capital projects, the Chadron State Foundation is working to significantly grow the endowments available to award scholarships benefitting students.
“I am always in awe of the impact that this small college in northwest Nebraska has made upon our world. Story after story from alumni expressing the profound gratitude to leaders and faculty at this institution abound when I meet with them across the country,” Watson said. “The Foundation is committed to partnering with Chadron State to meet its vision by ensuring that the facilities, scholarships and programmatic support are in line to meet student and staff needs and expectations. We have terrific alumni and it is my sincere hope they will consider focusing their philanthropy on their alma mater. This is a dynamic college and our alumni and friends have the ability to make Chadron State even stronger and more dynamic.”
Watson graduated from CSC with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2001. Prior to joining the Foundation, he worked at Security First Bank as its Chief Information Officer.
Watson’s wife, Saphron, is also a CSC graduate. She and Watson have three daughters.
—Alex Helmbrecht, Director of College Relations