Role of the Vice President for Finance and Administration

Reporting to the president and working in close partnership with other members of the senior leadership team, the vice president for finance and administration is the senior executive officer for Ithaca College’s financial resources and core business operations. The VPFA plays a key role in the management and operation of the institution and serves as the fiduciary face to both the board and the institution.

The next VPFA of Ithaca College will serve as an essential strategic partner to the president, working collaboratively with her, the board of trustees, the senior leadership team, faculty, staff and student leaders to assure a successful and stable financial future for the college. The VPFA supports and staffs the board of trustees’ Audit, Finance and Investment and Building and Grounds committees and has primary responsibility for the development and implementation of the college’s annual operating budget of approximately $340 million along with an endowment of close to $388 million. Ithaca College has been strategic and disciplined in building a strong financial foundation. The institution holds a bond rating of A2 and is supported on its balance sheet by a solid endowment and a forward thinking cash and debt strategy that will allow for financial alignment with the Ithaca Forever strategic plan.

The VPFA provides leadership for, and has managerial oversight of, business and finance, facilities, and auxiliary services. This includes general oversight of our distinctive dining model. After over 40 years of contracted dining services, Ithaca College made the decision to bring dining “in-house” to provide better service to our students and to create closer partnerships with the Ithaca community. Ithaca College announced the dining decision in March of 2019 and opened self-operations in June through August of 2019. This extremely aggressive timeline was accomplished through partnerships across the Finance and Administration Division as the entire dining operation needed to be recreated, including multiple new software systems, extensive capital renovations, all new meal plans, and new broadline and local/regional purchasing partnerships (among others).

The VPFA is expected to be innovative and entrepreneurial in the pursuit and development of strategies that fully optimize resources and further the college’s overall academic, administrative, and strategic initiatives. The new VPFA will also serve as a close partner to the president and the senior leadership team in the on-going implementation of Ithaca Forever, ensuring a stable financial framework for all elements of the strategic plan.

The VPFA provides support to the following committees of the board: Audit, Finance and Investment, and Building and Grounds. Together with the provost, the VPFA co-chairs the college’s institutional effectiveness and budget committee. The VPFA assures that the financial and services infrastructure of the institution is appropriate to its goals; employs an understanding of systems and the technology tools available to facilitate institutional effectiveness; focuses appropriately on the ever-increasing need to proactively improve the financial control environment; and provides clear communication that enables the entire college to function optimally.

As an integral member of the college’s senior leadership team, the VPFA provides leadership and managerial oversight for 300 staff members and the following direct reports:

  • Associate Vice President for Business and Finance
  • Associate Vice President for Facilities
  • Executive Director of Auxiliary Services

Opportunities and Expectations for Leadership

The new VPFA will join the college at a critical moment in its history as the institution embraces Ithaca Forever and maintains fiscal stability while realizing the highest aspirations for the future. This is not a status quo position. The successful candidate will be a thought leader who partners with the president and a strong senior leadership team in imagining, developing and implementing an ambitious and forward-thinking strategic plan that will guide the college through today’s challenging higher education environment into an even stronger future.

The VPFA will bring an understanding of a variety of budget models and the ability to translate and effectively communicate the implications of complex financial decisions to a diverse set of audiences. The VPFA must be entrepreneurial and creative in seeking out new sources of revenue and external partnerships that reflect an understanding of and commitment to the college’s overall strategic priorities, its mission and its commitment to access and academic excellence.

Specifically, the new VPFA will be asked to address and execute on the following critical and inter-related leadership themes:

In addition, the VPFA will be expected to:

Partner with the president and serve as a principal steward of Ithaca College

The VPFA joins a president who has a clear and compelling vision for the future and who welcomes a partner to provide strategic financial thinking and analysis to support institutional planning. A member of the college’s executive leadership team, the vice president will work closely with all senior leaders and build strong relationships throughout the college. The next VPFA will bring an understanding of and respect for faculty work and the faculty world and will be eager to connect with and support the academic and intellectual enterprise of the college with students at its center. The new leader will be able to take a principled position, even in times of crisis; to ask good questions and listen well; and to embrace the Ithaca College culture and mission, modeling the college’s core values, championing diversity and inclusion, and demonstrating a steadfast commitment to transparency, democratic engagement, openness and communication.

Provide strategic financial leadership and communication

The new VPFA will contribute significant executive leadership to enhance the overall effectiveness of the college’s strategic and financial planning efforts. President Collado is especially eager to enhance a strong academic-financial partnership focused on the college’s academic mission. The new VPFA will have responsibility for maintaining and enhancing an environment in which financial planning and fiscal challenges and trade-offs are discussed broadly and frequently.

At the heart of this position, the new VPFA will partner with the president and board in pursuit of a new fiscal paradigm that will provide a strong scaffolding for the tuition-dependent college of the future.

The new vice president will provide strategic leadership in helping the president and the board consider different models and strategies – including exploring and developing new sources of revenue – to address the complexities of being a tuition-dependent institution both today and over the long term, helping to devise ways to maintain the college’s competitive financial position and ensuring its future strength from a financial perspective.

Maintain a stable and transparent budget process

Thanks to a strong financial base, prudent choices in budgeting and disciplined fiscal practices, the college has maintained a strong financial position despite the fiscal challenges presented by the current pandemic. As chief financial officer, this leader has responsibility for maintaining and enhancing an environment in which campus-wide budgeting and reporting can be provided to all units, as well as ensuring the appropriate information technology environment for support of these initiatives. Having tested several budget models in the last decade, the college needs its next VPFA – who must understand the strengths of a variety of budget models – to bring stability and even greater strength to budgeting and the budget process while collaborating closely with the leadership team on establishing budget projections.

Provide leadership, improve efficiency, and enhance service

As a steward for the financial resources of the college and in close partnership with the Division of Human Resources and the Office of Academic Affairs, the VPFA is expected to model and promote proactive and progressive strategies for a high level of employee engagement within the finance and administration division, fostering a culture of shared goals and developing cohesive teams that are customer-service and results-oriented. Ithaca College seeks a leader who will set high standards for professional growth, integrity and accountability; actively mentor and encourage staff to pursue professional development opportunities; instill a culture of service excellence; and provide a supportive, collegial, team-based environment that promotes productivity and continuous improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of the institution’s operations.

Professional Qualifications and Personal Qualities

The ideal candidate will be a visionary, transformative, inclusive, collaborative and entrepreneurial leader who is committed to the highest standards of excellence, integrity and accountability and recognizes the importance of human capital.

The new vice president for finance and administration will be a strong and visible leader who leads open and honest dialogue throughout the campus community and with important external partners. The VPFA will possess all the traits of effective leadership including integrity; emotional intelligence and maturity; honesty; intelligence; optimism; prodigious energy; a commitment to excellence; outstanding judgment; creativity; decisiveness; diplomacy; and a sense of humor.

The VPFA will demonstrate the capacity to understand the challenges facing higher education particularly during these unprecedented times, while also comprehending the complexities of shared governance; a deep appreciation for the mission of the college; and the ability to develop financial strategies that will support the college’s academic and student-centered agenda. Equally important, the VPFA should have successful experience with strategic budget development, financial analysis and cost containment, as well as a demonstrated understanding of facilities, capital construction and the strategic value of information technology. Familiarity with enterprise risk management is required.

Specifically, the ideal candidate will have the following professional qualifications and personal characteristics:

  • Commitment to Ithaca College’s student-centered mission and values of academic excellence, respect and accountability, innovation, sustainability and equity.
  • A strong orientation toward service; a visionary, strategic, collaborative and inclusive leadership style; high ethical standards and a commitment to excellence, sound judgment and personal and professional integrity;
  • Understanding of and deep commitment to the academic enterprise as the central mission of the college;
  • Prior experience working with senior leadership teams and boards;
  • Demonstrated commitment and contribution to fostering and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • An orientation to be a strong advocate for the college’s non-exempt workforce given that the division has the largest number of non-exempt employees;
  • Demonstrated experience and success in all aspects of business and finance including financial and budgetary acumen, fiscally responsible management practices, fiduciary transparency and accountability; and superior financial planning and analytical skills and an in-depth knowledge of strategic financial analysis and modeling, and ability to analyze complex financial and accounting matters;
  • Experience with capital markets, issuance of bonds, and all aspects of managing an endowment;
  • Risk management experience as well as successful work with outside auditors, internal controls, and accounting standards/pronouncements;
  • Demonstrated ability to evaluate and embrace strategic risk;
  • Track record of successful leadership within a complex organization with multiple stakeholder groups; and strong interpersonal, relationship-building and communication skills with an ability to build trust and confidence with multiple and diverse constituencies such as faculty, staff, students, corporate partners, community leaders and the public;
  • Considerable experience as a manager with a demonstrated success in leading, empowering and delegating effectively to a successful team; significant project management and change management experience; and open, accessible and transparent approach to management along with significant experience in building teams and the capacities of the members of those teams;
  • Experience in private higher education administration and/or the non-profit sector is desirable, though the college is open to considering strong candidates who come from the for-profit, commercial world; and
  • Master’s degree in finance, accounting or business administration or equivalent combination of education and experience.