Armin Afsahi Leaving DU for Harvard

Photo: Courtesy of the University of Denver

When a Chancellor departs, it is not unexpected to have staff changes, and as Rebecca Chopp steps down from her Chancellor position this July, one of her key Vice Chancellor hires has decided to leave DU for Harvard University.

DU’s Armin Afsahi, DU’s Vice Chancellor for Advancement since 2015, has just accepted a similar executive position as Harvard’s Associate Vice President and Dean of Development for Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). Starting in July, Armin will lead the fundraising for FAS — the largest division at Harvard, which includes all undergraduate programs, some graduate schools, museums, libraries and athletics.

Certainly this is a great opportunity for Armin, but a loss for DU.  Harvard has an overall endowment of nearly $40 billion, and has become the greatest fundraising machine in the history of global academia.

“Given Armin’s impressive track record, his dedication to advancing higher education’s mission and values, and his inspiring leadership, he is ideally suited to joining Harvard at this time,” Harvard Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development  Brian Lee told the Harvard Gazette…”I have observed Armin’s career with great interest over the years and regard him as an admired colleague and a leader in our field who earns the respect of all those around him.”

Afsahi will be best known for helping to double annual giving at DU during his four-year tenure to start the quiet period of DU’s coming $1 Billion Capital Campaign, as well as for creating a deep team in the DU advancement office.  He has clearly articulated the mission of the University of Denver by adding regional advancement teams around the country, adding development leaders to various academic departments and connecting with the broader business community to increase community engagement.

On the more tactical level, Armin helped DU advancement to work very closely with the DU Athletics division, especially around alumni weekends, created a spring Alumni weekend featuring distinguished honorees along with celebrating new graduates and their transition to alumni status. DU homecoming weekends were further refined under Afsahi and the extended cooperation between Advancement and the Athletics division were extremely successful in bringing together students and alumni.

We wish Armin the very best in his future endeavors and all he does. He has been great friend to DU alumni and students alike, and will be missed by many in the DU community, especially his incredible talents, his personal warmth and his collaborative leadership style.

2 thoughts on “Armin Afsahi Leaving DU for Harvard”

  1. Armin (and key members of his team) completely revolutionized the advancement function at DU in his four years here, dragging an obsolete department into the 21st century. The new regional teams in key cities around the country, the great cooperation with DU athletics, and the new building that will combine alumni and career services are all his innovations, to say nothing of his doubling the annual giving to DU in four years — it is quite a track record.

    When Harvard’s biggest division comes knocking, you just don’t say no. He’s now at the very pinnacle of his field, and that’s honestly a feather in DU’s cap, too. For Harvard to snatch away Armin tells you how effective he is at what he does. Bravo, Armin, and thanks for four great years at DU!

  2. The basketball program is such a fiscal drain on the whole Athletic Department, not to mention an on-court embarrassment, that DU would be better off without the program.

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