Diffenderfer Named Baylor Vice President for University Advancement
Seasoned administrator to lead University’s advancement and alumni efforts
WACO, Texas (Dec. 20, 2023) – Baylor University President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., announced today that Jason Diffenderfer, vice president for university advancement at the University at Buffalo, will join Baylor as vice president for university advancement, effective March 1, 2024.
Diffenderfer will create a strategic vision for the next phase of Baylor’s Division of Advancement, which includes designing, planning and leading a future philanthropic campaign that expands on the success of Give Light, Baylor’s $1.1 billion effort that has exceeded $1.45 billion to date. As a member of the President’s Council, he also is expected to foster partnerships across campus and among alumni, parents and friends of the University to identify, engage and cultivate current and future donors. Diffenderfer will work closely with Baylor’s vice president of business and finance and chief financial officer to leverage revenue streams that allow President Livingstone, other senior administrators and the Baylor University Board of Regents to make informed decisions in fulfillment of Baylor’s Christian mission.
“I am excited to welcome Jason Diffenderfer to Baylor University and our leadership team. He is coming to campus at an enormously important moment as we prepare to sunset Give Light and to launch a new strategic plan that builds upon Illuminate, which fueled our elevation as a Research 1 institution,” President Livingstone said. “I know Jason’s experience in and around advancement will benefit our University greatly, particularly his familiarity and comfort with corporate and foundation giving. He has strong connections to the Baptist denomination and faith-based higher education, and his contributions will only strengthen our position as a preeminent Christian research university.”
Diffenderfer is an experienced higher education administrator with a record of success in planning and executing philanthropic campaigns, raising major and principal gifts, managing staff and building programs. He has responsibility for alumni engagement, and he has served at large public universities and at his alma mater, Gardner-Webb University – a Baptist university in North Carolina.
“In higher education, Christian universities play an unparalleled role in impacting our world, and philanthropy is an essential partner in advancing the charge. With its breadth of academic programs and research, Baylor University is well-positioned for philanthropic investments that will have an eternal impact beyond the borders of the University,” Diffenderfer said. “Baylor has always been a place I admired, and I am honored to become a part of the Baylor Family and to work with President Livingstone, the Board of Regents, the Advancement team and the Baylor community to help further its mission of educating men and women for worldwide leadership and service.”
At Buffalo – a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) and ranked No. 36 among public institutions by U.S. News & World Report – Diffenderfer serves on the president’s cabinet and has shepherded the university in surpassing its $1 billion Boldly Buffalo campaign goal, while also setting a fiscal year fundraising record with more than $123 million in commitments. Diffenderfer oversees an advancement division of 120 staff members whose fundraising and alumni engagement efforts support the university’s 12 academic units, athletics, student life and other programs of the university. He has worked closely with volunteer leadership – including the UB Foundation, UB Alumni Association and the Boldly Buffalo campaign steering committee – to advance the university’s mission.
In partnership with the president, dean and colleagues, Diffenderfer helped secure a $40 million gift to support Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In addition to transformative gifts, during Buffalo’s campaign he led the advancement team to successfully fund the university’s Inclusive Excellence Scholarship and Program Initiative and to significantly increase the number of endowed faculty chairs. Furthermore, he and his team have partnered with colleagues across the university to effectively engage corporations, foundations and organizations in institutional giving, which has accounted for more than 45%of UB’s campaign commitments.
Diffenderfer also is well-equipped for leadership in alumni activities. While at Buffalo he aligned the office’s goals with CASE Alumni Engagement Metrics to advance the university’s comprehensive alumni engagement initiatives and support industry benchmarking efforts.
Before Buffalo, Diffenderfer served in various advancement roles at the University of Louisville during the university’s $1 billion Charting Our Course campaign. As executive director of development there, he collaborated with university leadership and advancement colleagues to develop and execute a comprehensive advancement strategy. He began his career leading the annual giving program at Gardner-Webb.
Diffenderfer holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Gardner-Webb. He and his wife, Karrie, have three daughters. Katie is 15, and twin sisters Abby and Emmy are 13.
President Livingstone expressed her thanks to members of the search committee who generously offered their time and insights while guiding the WittKieffer search firm during this process: Cheryl Gochis, vice president for human resources and chief human resources officer, chair; Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life; Jovan Overshown, deputy director of athletics; Dr. Sarah Schnitker, associate professor of psychology; David Slover, former member of Baylor Board of Regents; and Dr. Todd Still, Dean, Truett Seminary.
“I must also extend a special thank you to Toby Barnett for his tireless service as interim vice president for advancement,” President Livingstone added. “Toby has a deep love for Baylor University that was evident as he led us into the fall and through the spectacular dedication of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center. I am forever grateful to him and his team in University Advancement for the work they have done and will continue to do for Baylor.”
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.