Tim Downs, who has served in leadership roles in operations and financial management at Princeton University for the past 14 years, has been named vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer (VPFA-CFO) at Ithaca College. Currently the executive director for facilities finance and administrative services at Princeton, he will start his new position at Ithaca on August 2.
Downs joined Princeton in 2007 as manager of the Facilities Finance and Business Office and was promoted to his current position in 2012. In that role, he has been responsible for leading a 37-member department providing budget, finance, business operations, procurement, information technology, and customer service support. He manages all financial aspects of a $125 million operating budget, $50 million major maintenance budget, and multi-billion-dollar capital projects budget.
At Ithaca College, Downs will serve as an essential strategic partner to President Shirley M. Collado, working collaboratively with her, the board of trustees, and the senior leadership team as well as with faculty, staff, and student leaders to assure a successful and stable financial future for the college. He will provide leadership and managerial oversight for 300 staff members in the areas of business and finance, facilities, and auxiliary services, and have primary responsibility for the development and implementation of the college’s annual operating budget that will allow for financial alignment with the Ithaca Forever strategic plan.
“The role of VPFA-CFO is one that requires expertise, creativity, collaboration, and a willingness to think innovatively as the college seeks to both stabilize in the short term and launch boldly and realistically into a sustainable future,” said Collado. “Tim brings an infectious energy and inventive spirit to his work, and a full understanding of what it takes to successfully tackle so many of the complexities facing the academy now and in the years ahead. He is the right partner for us as we activate our immediate and forward-facing goals and realize the promise of our strategic plan.”
An Accomplished Administrator
Among his other accomplishments at Princeton, Downs developed the university’s $5.5 billion capital plan, overhauling an $80 million construction surcharge program to close a $14 million deficit; reviewed and strengthened the stewardship program for the university’s $7 billion physical plant; managed key municipal relationships leading to a revaluation of the university’s property tax payment; and partnered with developers and financers on such sustainability projects as a 5.4MW solar field array and 12MW power purchase agreement.
“During my time at Princeton, I have had the privilege to lead or share in some of the greatest events impacting the university,” said Downs. “These include managing through two major economic downturns; modernizing the university’s 50-year-old financial/reporting/ purchasing system; advising through the transition of a new President, Provost, Executive VP, and VP for Facilities; and launching significant sustainability initiatives.”
He looks forward to bringing this experience to Ithaca College to help strengthen the college’s resources and take advantage of new opportunities.
“I am honored to have been selected for this position,” said Downs. “What drew me to Ithaca College is the ability to join an institution at a time when it is implementing bold and impactful changes. In a few short years, Ithaca initiated a five-year strategic plan, transitioned to an implementation plan, and is embarking on some of the most sweeping changes in the college’s history. These changes, necessary to weather the significant challenges facing the higher education industry in the years to come, will position Ithaca College for the future.”
Collaborative and Committed
Princeton’s vice president for facilities, KyuJung Whang, says he couldn’t be happier for Downs to be advancing to this next chapter of his professional career.
“Ithaca will find in Tim a collaborative leader focused on solving problems with creative and tangible solutions,” said Whang. “Guided by his ethical values, he is passionate about university operations and works tirelessly to ensure resources are optimized to support the institution’s strategies. With Tim you will never get less than a total commitment to his work.”
Those observations were echoed by Anita Misri, who as director of facilities finance capital projects is one of Downs’s direct reports.
“Tim is a collaborative leader, who not only supports his staff but also mentors them to create their own path in the organization,” said Misri. “His curious nature and outgoing personality created an open environment where individuals could grow, develop, and challenge the status quo to make the department better.”
His private-sector experiences have included serving as a group controller for Aramark Uniform Services and in a series of financial management positions within key strategic business units at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. He entered the education field as director of finance and then president of the Sanford Brown Institute, one of 82 campuses under the Career Education Corporation umbrella.
Downs earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from Temple University and M.B.A. with a concentration in finance from the University of Delaware.
His service to his profession and his community has included serving on the boards of the Pennsylvania Department of Education State Board of Private Licensed Schools, Pennsylvania Training Assurance Fund, and Princeton Blairstown Center—a not-for-profit helping at-risk youth—and on the Council Rock School District Planning Committee.