Debra Pozega Osburn brings a wealth of experience to the University of Saskatchewan leadership team, along with a passion for education that spans generations in her family. As one of three children of two public school teachers, she knew at a young age that learning was a part of living—and that learning was something that spanned a lifetime.
Debra earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University in 1979, and also competed as a varsity athlete for the Spartans in cross country and track. After graduation, she was a journalist for 13 years before returning to her alma mater to serve in several senior University Relations roles, earning her master’s degree and PhD in American studies during that time. In 2003, she became a partner and principal in a communications consulting firm, focusing on the education, non-profit and association sector, and then in 2007 joined the University Relations team at the University of Alberta, where she served for almost a decade, including seven years as vice-president.
Her time in both the public and private sectors has given her experience across the spectrum of University Relations activities, including marketing, communications, media relations and public affairs, government and community relations, alumni engagement and fund development.
Debra joined the U of S in the fall of 2016, and leads an energetic, talented and innovative team of professionals focused on advancing the University of Saskatchewan through work with alumni, donors, community partners and many other stakeholders. Her portfolio includes alumni relations, community engagement, development, strategic communications and numerous related services that ensure the university is able to reach its goals.
University Relations portfolio
University Relations is responsible for institutional advancement programs (alumni, internal and external relations, communications and fundraising), and as such is dedicated to supporting the related needs of all colleges, units and the university as a whole. University Relations is comprised of specialized teams that work together as an integrated team to ensure that the University of Saskatchewan has the reputation, relationships and resources necessary to take its place among the most distinguished universities in Canada and the world. The teams include Alumni Relations, Development, Marketing and Communications, and Operations and Services. More than 80 professionals and support staff work at various locations including the central office in the Thorvaldson Building, in colleges and schools, and in the Peter MacKinnon Building on campus.
Alumni Relations provides leadership for alumni engagement strategies, programs and services to strengthen the relationship between the university and our alumni. We engage our alumni through a variety of communications, events, volunteerism, affinity programs, group benefits and recognition programs. The office also serves as the corporate home for the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Association, a not-for-profit agency representing more than 150,000 alumni worldwide.
To learn more, please visit the alumni website.
Community Relations and Engagement
The Community Relations and Engagement (CRE) portfolio builds community pride for the UofS in Saskatchewan, across Canada and around the world. By developing strong, positive, mutually beneficial relationships and community presence, the CRE encourages, develops and nurtures community-based and community-connected initiatives and activities—embedding the academy into communities and bringing communities to our campuses. The CRE works closely with the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice President Research, and the University Senate.
Marketing and Communications
Marketing and Communications is responsible for enhancing and protecting our university's reputation. The goal of our team is to encourage key partners to invest their time and resources with the University of Saskatchewan so our university can become one of the most distinguished universities in Canada and the world. We accomplish this by increasing the profile of the University of Saskatchewan with important audiences, as well as building and managing the U of S brand in a manner that reflects our unique positioning strategy. We work with university partners to develop and deploy strategic marketing and communications, which include: media relations, advertising, strategic plan development, social media and online communications, public relations, internal communications (such as On Campus News) and much more.
To learn more, please visit the marketing and communications website.
Development's role is to encourage and obtain philanthropic support for the university. The office works in partnership with academic and development colleagues throughout the university to build enduring relationships not only with our community of alumni, but also with other individuals, private business and foundations. This is accomplished through a combination of resources embedded in the colleges and units and/or support from central programs: Annual Giving, Planned Giving, Corporate Relations, Principal Giving, Major Gifts, Development Communications, Donor Relations and Prospect Research.
To learn more, please visit give.usask.ca.
The Senior Strategist, Government and Public Relations is responsible for working closely with government representatives at all levels, and supporting the work of the President's Office and the wider campus community in building and maintaining those key relationships.
Operations and Services
The role of Operations and Services in University Relations is to provide support to the alumni and community relations, marketing and communications, and development activities of University Relations and the university by the provision and management of an integrated alumni and donor relationship management system, human resources, budget management, web development, and research and data services.
Research and Pipeline Services
This team is responsible for research, prospect identification, and pipeline management.
Systems and Data Services
This team supports the UFriend database and record administration of all activities related to UFriend records, data and list generation. In addition to UFriend, this team provides support and oversight for other software and systems.
Donation and Trust Services
Donations and Trust Services role is to provide both trust advisory services as well as all charitable processing and gift receipts for the University of Saskatchewan. The team is responsible for recommending the acceptance of gifts for Board of Governors' approval, as well as the establishment of new trusts and revisions to existing trusts as appropriate. They provide advice to University of Saskatchewan entities on issues related to charitable gifts, ensuring compliance with the Canadian Income Tax Act and Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.