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PYSK: Ryan Rapp, CFO, UM System

Job description:

I’m the vice president for finance and chief financial officer for the University of Missouri System, which means I have responsibility for the university’s $3.0 billion budget. I oversee the university’s endowment and retirement trust fund, budget planning and development, treasury, investment, accounting, procurement, facilities planning and design, real estate, internal audit, human resources, and risk and insurance management. My team and I work closely with our four campuses (MU, UMKC, Missouri S&T, and UMSL) as well as MU Health Care to provide leadership, service, and value to support the mission of the university.

Years lived in Columbia/Mid-Missouri:

Most of my life.

Original hometown:



MU, B.S. in accountancy; MU, M.S. in accountancy.

Favorite volunteer/community activity:

At this stage in my life, much of my volunteer time or community involvement is directed towards my kids’ activities at the YMCA or local sports organizations. I do enjoy participating in the United Way and volunteering at the Food Bank alongside my university colleagues.

Professional background:

I’m a CPA — I started my career as an intern with PricewaterhouseCoopers. After graduating from MU, I accepted a full time position with the company in Kansas City. Throughout my early career, I got to work closely with the university, and in 2010, I joined the UM System as the assistant controller. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity and good fortune to serve as the controller, chief audit executive, and now CFO for the UM System.

A favorite recent project:

By working closely with our president, campus leaders, and board of curators, I was able to develop a new process for capital and financial planning. The project really challenged us to think beyond an annual planning cycle and look out over a five-year period to ensure our capital plans are informed by our financial plans.

A Columbia businessperson I admire and why:

There are many, but the one that stands out for me personally is Nikki Krawitz [retired VP for finance at the UM System]. Nikki is a principled individual who is passionate about the university and this community. She has been a mentor, boss, and trusted advisor for me throughout my career. I’ve always been amazed at her breadth and depth of knowledge.

My next professional goal:

Working with President Choi, my system colleagues in IT and HR, campus chancellors, and other leaders and their teams to rethink how we deliver administrative services in more efficient and effective ways to our four campuses. That, in turn, will provide even more value and a higher return on investment to the citizens of Missouri.

If I weren’t doing this for a living, I would:

Farm. Farming is my first passion and is something that will never leave me. I still live on the family farm where I grew up.

Biggest lesson learned in business:

Be genuine and do not go it alone. Be a good listener. Do the right thing. Surround yourself with a diverse team and value differences of opinion.

How you would like to impact the Columbia community:

I want to continue to foster a strong relationship between the university and the community. I think history has shown that a strong relationship between the two is beneficial to both groups in areas like economic development through research and job growth, as well as community engagement and outreach.

Why I’m passionate about my job:

The University of Missouri is special to me. It provided me with opportunities as both a student and an employee I could never have imagined. Public higher education was a difference-maker for me, and this job is a chance for me to serve and give back.
Why I’m passionate about my company: I believe in the mission of public higher education and its ability to serve all Missourians. The UM System and our four campuses have a unique role to play in driving our state forward through teaching, research, public service, and economic development.

What people should know about this profession:

Working in finance at a large research university system is complex — there are new challenges and opportunities almost every day. It’s important to not lose focus on why I’m here. I have to remind myself that even though I have a “leadership” role, it’s one of service to the faculty, students, and citizens of the state.

The next challenge facing my industry:

Public higher education is facing many challenges across the country now. The financial challenge we currently face is how to increase resources and reduce cost while maintaining a high-quality, affordable education for our students. This challenge isn’t new, but it has become more acute. These challenges present exciting opportunities for the university to lead in delivering new approaches to public higher education at both the state and national level.

Greatest strength:

Professionally, my team. Personally, my family.

Greatest weakness:

I have a lot, so it’s hard to single one out. Time management is something I’m always working to improve.

What I do for fun:

Go to the kids’ and MU sporting events, get together at family gatherings, and work on the farm.


My wife, Emily, and our kids: Max, 11; Molly, 8; Alex, 5; and Beau, 3.

Favorite place in Columbia:

MU on football weekends.

Accomplishment I’m most proud of:

The high quality of the staff and leaders on our team. I work with some of the most dedicated and passionate individuals at the university. They make my job easy.

Most people don’t know that I:

Grew up on a farm and have worked there every summer from the time I was 9 years old. It has taught me great lessons that are still with me today.

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