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New Vice Chancellor for University Advancement

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Rebecca Chopp

Letter  •

I am exceptionally pleased to announce that Armin Afsahi will join the University of Denver as vice chancellor for University Advancement, effective July 1, 2015. In this role, he will inspire the vision and provide the leadership for the University's philanthropy programs. As the chief development officer, he will build strong, sincere and lasting relationships with key University leaders as well as alumni, parents and friends of DU.

Armin brings to our community a dynamic mix of expertise spanning creative alumni engagement strategies, innovative and highly effective fundraising strategies, and leadership of comprehensive campaigns raising in excess of $1 billion. He has over 24 years of private and public sector experience in institutional advancement, business development, strategic planning, marketing and operations. For the past 10 years, he has been a senior advancement executive for prestigious institutions including the University of California, San Diego and Georgetown University. Armin holds an MBA in finance and strategic management from University of San Diego, and a BA in communication from UC-San Diego. He serves in volunteer leadership roles on key professional and nonprofit organizations, and contributes positively to the field of advancement.

In Armin's most recent role at UC-San Diego as associate vice chancellor and chief alumni officer, he built a new model for university advancement that delivered exceptional results. Programs created under his leadership increased alumni participation by 73 percent over five years, grew alumni and student philanthropy by 427 percent and 450 percent respectively, and contributed to raising over $150 million annually in new private support.

Board of Trustees Chairman Doug Scrivner, who served as a member of the search committee, had this to say about Armin:

"I am thrilled that Armin will be joining us at the University of Denver, as his track record in both alumni engagement and development is outstanding. On behalf of the board, I am happy to welcome such a dynamic leader to our team and look forward to working with him to build upon the strengths of our advancement efforts."

I too am excited for the possibilities ahead as Armin applies the success strategies he implemented at UC-San Diego to the critical role that University Advancement plays in our work at DU. UC-San Diego is recognized as one of the top 15 research universities worldwide, and currently serves nearly 30,000 students and has over 160,000 alumni in its extended community. While clearly larger than DU, we face many of the same challenges.

As financial pressures continue to mount for higher education institutions across the country—and as many families face more difficult financial circumstances—we rely even more heavily on the generosity of alumni, parents and friends of DU to support our programming. From faculty research grants to student financial aid to funding buildings that allow our community to work better together, finding and securing support for the University's priorities is a difficult and important task.

I am incredibly proud of the work our Advancement and Alumni Relations teams are doing as we transition to a new leader and new growth opportunities following the successful conclusion in 2014 of the ASCEND campaign that raised nearly $500 million in gifts and commitments.

My sincere thanks go to the entire search committee (listed below) for its fast yet thorough work in conducting a national search that led to this most successful conclusion, as well to our search consultants, Susan VanGilder and Veronica Fitzgerald of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates. It was a pleasure to serve as this committee's chairperson.

  • Joy Burns, trustee
  • Kevin Carroll, vice chancellor, Marketing & Communications
  • Brent Chrite, dean, Daniels College of Business
  • Margot Gilbert Frank, trustee
  • Viva Moffat, professor and associate dean of academic affairs, Sturm College of Law
  • Denise O'Leary, trustee, Chair of Advancement Committee
  • Greg Robbins, associate professor and chair, Religious Studies, Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
  • Maria Salazar, associate professor, Morgridge College of Education
  • Doug Scrivner, chair, Board of Trustees
  • Don Sturm, trustee
  • Kimon Valavanis, professor and chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science
  • Claire Brownell, assistant to the chancellor, staff support for the committee

Please join me in welcoming Armin to the University of Denver.

Rebecca S. Chopp, Chancellor