Vice president for finance and administration, University of Missouri System
JOB DESCRIPTION: I am the chief finance and administrative officer for the University of Missouri System with responsibility for endowment, retirement fund and cash investments, debt financing, accounting, budget and appropriations requests, internal audit, procurement, risk and insurance management, records management, facilities planning and design and real estate. My staff and I work closely with our four campuses and health system to support them in achieving their goals.
YEARS LIVED IN COLUMBIA: 33
ORIGINAL HOMETOWN: Atlanta
EDUCATION: B.A. in education, Washington University, St. Louis; M.A. in special education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York; M.S. in accountancy, MU.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Stephens College board of trustees, city of Columbia TIF Commission, Landmark Bank board of directors, past member of Columbia Subcontracting Enterprise and Comprehensive Human Services (Front Door and Women’s Shelter)
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: In my first career, I worked for 10 years with children with learning and language problems. After completing my degree in accounting and becoming a CPA, I taught accounting and finance at Stephens College. At Stephens, I had several administrative opportunities before becoming the vice president for finance and administration. In 1996, I moved to MU to work with the executive vice president for finance and administration on special projects, then served as the controller. For the past nine and a half years, I have served in my current position. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would end up with responsibility for a $2.7 billion budget and investments totaling $5.5 billion.
A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: During the past two years, my staff and I worked with the president, the chancellors and the board to take advantage of historically low interest rates in the bond markets to finance critically needed building renovations and new facilities on all four of our campuses. This is resulting in improved facilities for teaching, research and patient care. We also managed to save the university $108 million in present value savings and more than $6.4 million in cash.
A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE AND WHY: There are many business people in Columbia whom I admire. In particular, I admire Teresa Maledy because she has a strong value system that is reflected in everything she does. She is committed to the Columbia community and follows through on every commitment she makes. I am always amazed at how much she does.
WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: I am passionate about the mission of higher education. I believe that an educated citizenry is critical to the democratic process and the values of a participatory democracy. Higher education is a public good that has been a driving force in the growth and development of this nation. My job is to support the university system in its teaching, research, public service and economic development missions by maximizing resources while minimizing costs without compromising quality.
IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR A LIVING, I WOULD: I would probably be teaching at some level. I love the challenge of helping people to understand and learn new things.
BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME AND HOW: I never imagined I would have this career, so I haven’t really encountered obstacles, only opportunities of which I was able to take advantage. There have been times along the way when being the only woman at the table presented special challenges. However, I worked hard to establish credibility.
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: A public research university is a large and complex organization, so there are new challenges and new things to learn almost every day. That’s what makes the work fun and interesting. To be effective in this position, it’s important for me and my team to remember that we are here to support and facilitate teaching, learning and research. Ultimately, we are here to serve the faculty and students.
WHAT I DO FOR FUN: I love to travel with my husband, Aaron. We have been to many interesting places in the U.S. and abroad in Europe, Africa, the Far East and the Middle East. I also walk on the MKT Trail with four women friends every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine. We exercise our bodies and our minds debating social, political, legal and religious issues along the way. We have been doing this for at least 15 years, maybe longer.
FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: My favorite place in Columbia is the MKT Trail. I have spent thousands of hours during the years walking and biking there with friends and family.
ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: From a personal perspective, I am most proud of my 44 year marriage. From a professional perspective, the accomplishment of which I am most proud was receiving the National Association of College and University Business Officers 2010 Distinguished Business Officer award, which recognized my work and reflected on the strong team of finance and administrative colleagues I work with at the university.
MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT I: Recently flew over Victoria Falls in Zambia in a microlight aircraft. An awesome experience!