Star City Six – Rick Blessen
Southeast Community College (www.southeast.edu) operates within its 15-county service area of southeast Nebraska and has full-service campuses in Beatrice, Lincoln and Milford. Within the last two years SCC also has established learning centers in Falls City, Hebron, Nebraska City, Plattsmouth, Wahoo and York. Rick Blessen is the first director of advancement in the history of the College.
Tell us a little about your role.
I am working to develop relationships and secure funding for program and capital projects through our SCC Educational Foundation.
How did you get started in the business?
I started my work in non-profit development with the Nebraska Public Radio Network 25 years ago, then subsequently the Nebraska Humanities Council and Doane University.
What has been your most important achievement professionally?
While at Doane I reconnected with an alumnus who left Doane to finish his engineering degree elsewhere. Unfortunately, changes in his path led to him not receiving his Doane diploma. Though he’d been a sporadic $25 donor, over the course of our relationship he established an endowed scholarship that’s likely to become Doane’s largest, and he’s made several major gifts toward capital projects. A few years ago I was able to maneuver around some outdated graduation policies and made it possible for him to realize his dream and receive his Doane diploma and walk at commencement with his children watching.
Tell us a little about your family.
I have an amazing family living in a 131-year-old house in Crete. My wife Jennifer Robison is a senior writer and editor at Gallup. She writes about everybody from hotel maids to Nobel Prize winners. Our two sons and daughter range in age from 16 to 9 and are all enrolled in the excellent Crete Public School system. I’m already recruiting them for SCC.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
The arrival of my children. The world you wake up to the morning after a baby is born is different than any day that came before it, and changes you for the rest of your life.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
Spending time working on a project or hanging out by the water at Duncan Lakes, where my family has a property.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know?
I received a Carnegie Medal for Heroism.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My grandfather always told me “Accept the blame, share the credit.”
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Guy Clark’s The Cape.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Flying. Do you know how expensive it is to get a family of five on a plane?
If you could choose any other profession to be successful in, what would it be?
I have always loved discovering new music and actually was involved in the early days of the Americana Music Association. So if I had to work someplace other than SCC, it would involve music production and management.
What is your favorite local restaurant?
This used to be a tough question, but then we opened Course at SCC’s new Great Plains Culinary Institute. It is simply amazing.
If you could have dinner with one famous person from the past or present, who would it be?
If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so?