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University of Dallas Names New Vice President for Development and University Relations

(IRVING, Texas) Dec. 5, 2023 — The University of Dallas is pleased to announce that Ashton Ellis, PhD, has been appointed vice president for development and university relations. Working closely with President Jonathan J. Sanford, PhD, he will lead the team dedicated to increasing philanthropic support and engagement among donors, alumni and friends of the university.

“Dr. Ellis, well-acquainted with the higher education landscape, recognizes that the University of Dallas is distinctively excellent, providing the finest liberal arts education in the country,” said President Sanford. “He is a faithful witness to the Catholic Church and its highest ideals for university education, and he supports a liberating approach to human formation. We share the belief that the University of Dallas is worthy of the highest levels of philanthropic support to advance its mission in service to rebuilding culture through educational excellence. With his extensive academic background, philanthropic experience, determination and character, Dr. Ellis is uniquely prepared to serve as our vice president for development and university relations. I am deeply grateful he has joined us in our noble work, and I cannot wait to start working with him.”

Ellis comes to UD after nearly 10 years in fundraising at Hillsdale College, where he currently oversees a nationwide team responsible for helping high-net worth families make legacy-defining gifts. These in turn help to fund endowed professorships, student scholarships and various academic and outreach programs.

“As the father of nine with a 10th on the way, I’m deeply interested in the role education plays in forming the future leaders of our church and country,” Ellis said. “The more I learned about President Jonathan J. Sanford’s vision for UD, especially the centrality of the liberal arts in a truly classical education, the more excited I became about the opportunity to help him. Our country is overdue for another Great Awakening, and I believe the next one will be a Catholic Awakening that could, and should, start at the University of Dallas.”

Ellis earned his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in 2004 (Phi Beta Kappa), a master’s in public policy and administration from Baylor in 2005, a law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law and a PhD in political philosophy from Claremont Graduate University. Prior to Hillsdale College, he taught at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy and was a consultant to the Diocese of Orange in the fight to resist California’s legalizing assisted suicide. He was also awarded a bioethics fellowship by the Paul Ramsey Institute and a Novak Journalism Fellowship by The Fund for American Studies.

The move to UD completes a kind of homecoming for Ellis, who was born in Victoria, TX, and met his wife Lauren while they worked in the Texas House of Representatives in Austin. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellis moved his family back to Texas from California, where he worked remotely for Hillsdale. In both states, Ellis was a top fundraiser and sought-after expert within the Hillsdale team. He and his family have already put down roots in the University Hills area near campus, and they plan to be a pillar of the UD community for decades to come.

“Whether it’s attending Mass at the Church of the Incarnation, or watching my sons compete in a youth rugby league on campus, my love for UD continues to deepen,” said Ellis. “When we moved to the area three years ago, my wife and I wanted to be in a place with multiple daily Mass options, a strong intellectual community and other families trying to raise the next generation of saints and scholars. We’ve benefited tremendously from the community around UD, and I am thrilled to be able now to give back through my professional work.”

“If you ‘love ye UD,’” said Ellis, “I hope you’ll join us as we follow President Sanford through the next great phase of this beloved university’s history.”

About the University of Dallas

The University of Dallas is the premier Catholic liberal arts university in the country, known for its rigorous undergraduate Core Curriculum and robust graduate and professional programs in business, ministry, education and the humanities. According to national rankings, the University of Dallas has one of America’s most challenging, comprehensive undergraduate interdisciplinary programs, offered at an excellent value to some of the happiest students in the country. With campuses in Texas and Italy, UD stands apart as a thriving community of learners committed to an education that forms students intellectually, socially and spiritually for a life well-lived. For more information, visit udallas.edu.

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