Fairfield University's Vice President of University Advancement George Diffley announces retirement plans

Fairfield University's Vice President of University Advancement George Diffley announces retirement plans

Image: Newsbreaker After 30 years at the helm of Fairfield's Division of University Advancement, George E. Diffley has announced his plan to retire as Vice President effective June 30, 2006.

Diffley has headed the division since 1975, when he was appointed Vice President of Development and Public Relations. In announcing his plans, Diffley said his decision to leave Fairfield emerged from both personal and institutional considerations. "At the end of this year, I will have had the honor and most rewarding experience of leading the Division for thirty years, and the time is simply 'right' for me, especially as my wife, Maureen, who has been so supportive of my work all these years, and I look forward to the birth of our first grandchild in May."

Diffley continued, "It is, I believe, also the 'right' time institutionally, because the future leadership of the Division should be in place as the University moves to implement its new strategic vision and the Division positions itself to assist in the realization of that vision."

Upon learning of Diffley's decision, University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., praised Diffley as "the consummate advancement professional who has served Fairfield University and its extended family with boundless energy, passion and devotion." Father von Arx said, "George Diffley has the unbeatable combination of strength of character, leadership acumen and irresistible charm - a sure formula for success in both fund and friend-raising."

As Vice President for University Advancement, Diffley oversees a division that includes the following areas: Alumni Relations; Development (Annual Giving, Major Gifts, Foundation Relations, Corporate Relations, Constituent Relations, Planned Giving, Advancement Research and Development Services); Public Relations (Media Relations, Publications, Printing and Graphic Services, Sports Information and the Web), and Special Events.

Of his Advancement colleagues past and present and the Presidents under whom he has served, Diffley said, "I am profoundly grateful to the wonderful Advancement team for all that we have accomplished together, and to the three Presidents I have served with over the years - the late Fr. Tom Fitzgerald, who gave me the professional opportunity of a lifetime, my good friend, Fr. Al Kelley, who inspired so much of the philanthropy that has contributed to the University's success, and, finally, Fr. von Arx who has been so gracious to me and whose vision for Fairfield promises so much for the future."

Father von Arx indicated that following a formal analysis of the resources and infrastructure of the Advancement Division that will be conducted shortly by the consulting firm of Marts & Lundy, Lyndhurst, N.J., a national search will begin for Diffley's replacement. "The realization of the vision for Fairfield begins with the creative role our faculty and administrators will play in developing the tactics that will bring our strategic plan to life," Father von Arx said. "Also key to our success will be both traditional and newly developed fundraising and marketing strategies, and the Advancement Division will be critical to that effort," he continued. Father von Arx said he has asked Diffley to continue serving in a consulting capacity and Diffley has agreed to do so.

Prior to coming to Fairfield, Diffley was an instructor in Theology at the College of New Rochelle from 1967 to 1970. After a brief stint as a political Campaign Coordinator in New York State for William J. vanden Heuvel, Diffley was named Director of Development for St. Joseph's College, Brooklyn, New York, where he served for two years. In 1972, he was named regional Director of Development and Director of the New York Office for Georgetown University where he remained until his arrival at Fairfield in 1975.

For a relatively young institution of higher education, Fairfield has seen remarkable success in fundraising. In 1974-75, the year before Diffley's arrival, Fairfield's total gift revenue was about $300, 000. Over the years gift revenue grew dramatically. The 1988 to 1992 capital fundraising effort, "The Campaign for Fairfield University," reached $42 million, surpassing its $35 million goal. More recently, "Our Promise: The Campaign for Fairfield University," launched in 2002, had a goal of $100 million. Midway through the campaign, Fairfield announced it was raising its sights to $125 million and still managed to surpass the revised goal by more than 10 percent with a record $137.9 million raised, 95% of which has already been received. In 2004-05, gifts to the University totaled $14,199, 881 and the Annual Fund broke another record at $2.7 million.

While Diffley is quick to point out that "fundraising and friend-raising is very much a team sport," his Jesuit University colleagues, nationally, have recognized his accomplishments. In 1999, Diffley received the Rev. Barry M. McGannon, S.J. Award at the annual meeting of Jesuit Advancement Administrators. The award is presented to a professional whose service to Jesuit higher education is distinguished and whose career is an inspiration to others.

Posted On: 02-01-2006 10:02 AM

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