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Position: Vice President for Finance & Administration
Reports To: Alice P. Gast, Ph.D., President
Organization: Lehigh University (www.lehigh.edu)
Location: Bethlehem, PA
Overview of the Organization
Since its founding in 1865, Lehigh University has been a place with a purpose – in the words of its founder, industrial pioneer and philanthropist Asa Packer, to contribute to the “intellectual and moral improvement” of its students so that they, in turn, could contribute to a strong national economy. Firmly rooted in its mission of teaching, research, and service, Lehigh prepares students to become leaders through outstanding teaching by internationally recognized faculty who also perform groundbreaking research to meet the needs and challenges of society. A Lehigh education is a rich academic experience that embraces new ways of thinking, welcomes diverse perspectives, and encourages exploration and understanding of the world by fostering intellectual curiosity in a supportive campus culture where the Lehigh community learns, works, and lives together.
Today, Lehigh University is among the most selective, highly ranked private research universities in the U.S. Academic programs are offered through four colleges – the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Economics, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, and College of Education. Graduate and doctoral programs are offered in all four colleges.
Lehigh University’s research strengths span its four colleges and are supported by approximately $50M in externally sponsored funding in 2012. Internal support for research is provided in part by the Smith Fund for Innovation in Science and Engineering, to seed the start-up of new research projects and the expansion of programs into new areas. The university’s incubator, Ben Franklin Techventures, on the Mountaintop Campus, was named one of the nation’s top ten “Start-Up Incubators to Watch” by Inc.com.
Lehigh employs more than 440 full tenured and tenure-track faculty, approximately 200 adjunct faculty and lecturers, 10 full-time visiting faculty, and nearly 1,215 full and part-time staff who support the academic, research, and administrative functions. Lehigh has more than 75,000 active and engaged alumni.
The university enrolls approximately 4,700 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students. A small student-faculty ratio (10:1) allows students to work closely with their professors. First and second year undergraduate students live on campus in residence halls and specialty housing options. Lehigh participates in NCAA Division I sports, fielding 25 teams for men and women, as well as 40 intramural and club sports. The varsity football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, golf, tennis, and softball teams have all won Patriot League Championships and the men’s basketball team participated in the NCAA Championships.
Lehigh’s commitment to international education is reflected in its many university-wide institutional memoranda of understandings and agreements targeting departments and colleges in a specific area of research, graduate student exchange, or study abroad for undergraduate students. Lehigh offers more than 200 study abroad programs in more than 60 countries and sends approximately 180 students on traditional study abroad annually. A generous gift from Lee Iacocca, a Lehigh alumnus, launched the Iacocca Internships for Global Leadership, expanding the range of international experiences for students.
Located in the city of Bethlehem (population 75,000), Pennsylvania, Lehigh is in close proximity to Philadelphia (50 miles) and New York (75 miles). Lehigh is situated on more than 2,300 acres on four campuses in Pennsylvania’s scenic Lehigh Valley, making it one of the largest (by land) private universities in the country. Three of Lehigh’s four campuses are contiguous: The Asa Packer Campus is the original and predominant campus; the Mountaintop Campus, a former Bethlehem Steel facility, features the College of Education, several departments, an incubator, and interdisciplinary labs for exploration; and the Murray H. Goodman Campus houses a 16,000 seat stadium and other sports facilities. In 2012, the university received the gift of 755 acres in nearby Upper Saucon Township from the Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation, providing an opportunity for long-term advancement of the university’s academic mission. The university has established a corporate entity, LU Properties LLC, to manage the finances, maintenance, and any sales or future development of the property.
The university is governed by an active 33-member board of trustees, composed primarily of prominent business, civic and academic leaders with a deep commitment to the mission of Lehigh; many are university alumni and key donors.
The university has a budget of $443 million, total assets of nearly $1.9 billion, modest debt, little deferred maintenance, and an endowment with a market value of just over $1 billion. Tuition and fees costs for the 2013-14 academic year are $43,220, with room and board fees totaling $11,560. Keeping tuition increases down has been an important university priority. More than 50 percent of Lehigh students receive financial aid, which is awarded based on need and merit. In FY 2013, Lehigh awarded more than $63 million in university grants and scholarships from a variety of sources.
Lehigh has an impressive leadership team, headed by Alice P. Gast, an internationally renowned scholar, researcher, and academic leader, who was appointed the university’s 13th President in 2006. Prior to her appointment at Lehigh, Dr. Gast served as the vice president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and held the Robert T. Haslam chair in chemical engineering. She previously spent 16 years as a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. She appointed Patrick Farrell as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2009. Formerly Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Farrell is a professor of mechanical engineering with more than 25 years of experience as a teacher, researcher, and leader.
The university’s Strategic Plan was approved by the board in 2009 with the goal of “Advancing Our Intellectual Footprint.” The plan has four components – Addressing Grand Challenges and National Needs in Strategic Areas of Focus; Investing in Faculty and Staff through Strategic Expansion; Providing a Best-in-Class Experience: Promoting Student Success through Core Competencies and Student Engagement; and Partnering in the Renaissance of the Local Community. Through achievement of the objectives of the Strategic Plan, Lehigh aims to be known “as a leader in learning, a leader in innovation, and a leader in creativity.”
As part of implementing the Strategic Plan, the board and executive and faculty leadership spent the past year building a comprehensive master plan and campaign plan. In particular, they launched the identification and planning for the next ten years of capital investment in support of the institution’s strategic priorities and sustainability plans. A strategic plan financial model guides the financial planning strategies. Plans for fundraising over the coming decade have also been developed and tested. The university is now in the silent phase of its next capital campaign; this year, the university raised $65 million in total gifts.
This is a time of immense opportunity for the university, with strong leadership, clearly articulated goals, and a high degree of positive energy fueled by a desire to move the institution forward to achieve greater excellence in a time of great change in higher education. With the benefits of being a residential university and the opportunity to develop new space, the university has the scope to make investments that will position the institution for decades to come. The Vice President for Finance & Administration is a key leader in this process, with the responsibility to ensure that the university can identify, maximize, and steward the resources needed to achieve its strategic objectives and be competitive in the future.
Finance and Administration at Lehigh University
Finance and Administration (F&A) consists of more than 200 employees working within nine departments: Budget, Business Services (Bookstore, Transportation and Parking, Printing and Mailing, Purchasing, Stabler Arena), Trademarks and Licensing; Financial Services (Bursar, Treasurer, Controller, GoldPlus, ID Card Office), F&A Systems, Facilities Services & Campus Planning, Human Resources, Research Accounting, and Student Auxiliaries (including Child Care, Conference, Food, and Residential Services). These units support the university’s core mission through collaborative and entrepreneurial management of human, business and facilities resources. F&A maintains stewardship of the university’s resources through a sound internal control structure and by ensuring that financial statements are prepared in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles and Lehigh University policies.
Challenges and Opportunities
Although the university is fiscally strong and operationally healthy, it faces a number of challenges and opportunities that are both particular to Lehigh and part of the changing landscape of higher education:
- The size of Lehigh is both an advantage and a challenge. It is big enough to be a world-class research institution with significant impact, yet small enough for strong collaboration to occur. Lehigh competes with institutions that are much larger and better funded, requiring that financial decisions and investments be made with careful consideration.
- The university will need to undertake a careful review and assessment of programs, activities, and functions. The Vice President will have the opportunity to introduce a more rigorous analysis to ensure that dollars are being spent for maximal impact.
- The President and the board of trustees are eager for a more sophisticated presentation of financial options, including the use of capital markets, sensitivity analyses, and other financial tools for decision-making about the funding of strategic priorities.
- The growth of online courses, MOOCs, and other technological innovations has the potential to change the traditional expectations of the appeal of the residential university. The Vice President will need to help the board and the university leadership consider financial aspects of these issues and how to address these changes and adapt to an evolving market.
- With costs of higher education increasing, it may no longer be sustainable to continue to raise tuition as the primary source of revenue growth. The Vice President will need to be creative in considering alternatives and options and in modeling the consequences of financial choices.
The university’s aspirations for growth and excellence require a Vice President for Finance and Administration with the strengths of a Chief Financial Officer and experience in all aspects of financial planning, forecasting and operational management, who can think strategically about creative opportunities; balance capital requirements with financing options; work collaboratively with university leaders and learn about areas of the university that are unfamiliar; communicate effectively with all internal and external stakeholders and constituents; and contribute to making the university’s intellectual environment, community, and student experiences richer, more vibrant and more inclusive.
The Vice President for Finance and Administration (Vice President) is the chief financial officer of the university and reports to, and serves at the pleasure of, the President. The Vice President provides leadership, oversight, and stewardship for all aspects of the university’s financial resources while ensuring absolute institutional integrity on fiscal and human resource matters. The Vice President serves as a strategic advisor to the President and the board of trustees and recommends financial and administrative objectives, policies, programs and practices that ensure a sound financial structure for the university. Working with the President and the Provost, the Vice President is responsible for planning the operating and capital budgets and for developing a long-term sustainable economic model that ensures the viability of the university. As CFO, she or he is responsible for the management of financial matters and for risk management and compliance with audit, legal, and donor requirements, IRS, federal and state regulations, and financial aid. The Vice President controls the flow of cash through the organization and maintains the integrity of funds. The Vice President works with the Chief Investment Officer, General Counsel, and the Vice President for Advancement to ensure the integrity of constraints on the acceptance and use of donor funds.
He or she supervises the heads of these units with total responsibility for more than 200 staff members and more than 500 staff in outsourced activities.
The Vice President is a member of the President’s Senior Leadership team and serves as liaison to the Trustee Committee on Finance and its Subcommittee on Capital Structures. The Vice President also works closely with key faculty committees, such as the Faculty Financial Planning and Operations Committee (FFPOC) and Faculty Compensation Committee (FCC). In support of and in collaboration with the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President actively participates in university budget policy decisions, while promoting fiscal accountability. The Vice President is a significant contributor to advancing the mission and strategic direction of the university, which includes promoting a climate of equity and inclusion.
Additional Specific Responsibilities
- Creating and implementing a broad and compelling vision for Finance and Administration and assessing its effectiveness;
- Providing continuous evaluation of short and long-term strategic financial objectives;
- Producing budgets, forecasts and other financial statements and reports and presenting them to the President, the board of trustees and the university community;
- Providing executive management with advice on the financial implications of business activities, the costs of strategic priorities, and options for funding strategies;
- Working with Audit and Controller’s office to ensure that effective accounting controls are in place and ensuring compliance with GAAP and applicable federal, state, and local regulatory laws and rules for financial and tax reporting;
- Working with Audit and Controller’s office to foster collaborative relationships with auditors;
- Working with the General Counsel to negotiate major contracts for the university; reviewing and executing existing major contracts;
- Working with other key university leaders, ensuring effective strategies to address emergency planning and risk management;
- Engaging collaboratively with Lehigh’s community affairs leaders to work productively with the City of Bethlehem and to contribute to the development of South Bethlehem;
- Creating and sustaining an environment of service excellence and innovation.
Key Selection Criteria
The university seeks a respected leader in financial planning, forecasting, and analysis with experience in administration. The new Vice President will be an able and experienced manager and leader capable of motivating diverse teams of employees across the range of areas within the Finance and Administration portfolio. The Vice President will have the skills and talent needed to develop and execute plans to enhance the university and to manage change within a complex environment. Experience in managing debt, cost reduction, and administrative simplification that can be applied to a university environment will be an advantage. The Vice President will be dedicated to Lehigh University, committed to serving its mission and promoting its vision and strategy. She or he should be excited about Lehigh’s commitment to world-class research, distinctive undergraduate education, and outstanding teaching. The Vice President must exemplify and uphold the core values of the institution, which include academic freedom, collaboration, commitment to excellence, equitable community, integrity and honesty, intellectual curiosity, leadership, and respectful dialogue.
Among other specific characteristics, the Vice President will be:
- An independent worker who collaborates well with the President, the senior leadership team, and the board of trustees;
- Able to work with a diverse group of faculty, trustees, and staff on complex resource allocation issues that divide opinion;
- An open-minded, strategic, and creative thinker and a good listener, able to offer alternatives and consider diverse opinions while keeping the health and financial well-being of the university the foremost priority;
- An effective and clear communicator, both in written and spoken communications, to diverse internal and external audiences;
- Willing to be active in outside professional organizations;
- A skillful and talented financial executive able to develop and execute plans to enhance and grow the university;
- A skillful leader capable of managing change and taking intelligent risks in a complex environment.
Other Important skills and competencies include:
- At least ten years in progressively responsible financial leadership roles, with comprehensive budget and financial planning experience and responsibilities within a large, complex environment, an understanding of complex financial instruments, awareness of market trends, and proven experience developing financial strategies that support strategic priorities;
- An undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, with a strong preference for an advanced degree such as an MBA and/or CPA equivalent;
- The ability to set challenging and attainable goals, set priorities, and work with and inspire others to high levels of creative performance, and to leverage ideas into action; able to lead and navigate in a time of change;
- Good judgment in recognizing talent and assessing where improvements are needed; an open and creative approach to problem solving and a willingness to address issues across areas and without concerns for “turf”;
- Demonstrated ability to recruit, retain, and reward high quality staff; an engaged and open management style that delegates authority, empowers staff, sets high expectations, and holds departmental colleagues accountable;
- Ability to confront and make difficult decisions, resolve conflict, and demonstrate and promote transparency, integrity and high ethical standards within the institution;
- Demonstrated commitment to building community and vigorously promoting equity and inclusion.
Lehigh University is an affirmative action equal opportunity employer. For additional information, please consult the university’s website at http://www.lehigh.edu.
Search Team and Contact Information
Nominations, inquiries, and expressions of interest (cover letter, CV, and five references) should be directed electronically to: LehighVPF&A@divsearch.com.
Burton A. (Mackie) MacLean, Jr.
Kim M. Morrisson, Ph.D.
Senior Managing Director, Education and Not-for-Profit Leadership Searches
Andrew MacLean, Senior Associate
Mary Gorman, Executive Assistant
One Commerce Square, 2005 Market Street, Suite 3300, Philadelphia, PA 19103