Organizational Announcements, 1/8/21

Organizational Announcements, 1/8/21

Dear colleagues,

Happy new year to you all. It is my hope that you each had a pleasant holiday and a well-deserved respite from work.

Last month I reached out to acknowledge the upcoming retirement of John Vitali on June 30, and to inform you of how John’s decision has allowed us to consider new and different ways to operate the institution. I am writing today to share some organizational changes resulting from this continuing review.

Understanding the difficulties we would face recruiting a new CFO during an interim presidency—and the likelihood that a new president will want to be part of selecting Drew’s next CFO—following a feasibility study and review of potential collaborators, I believe the best decision for Drew at this moment is to partner with BDO USA, LLP to outsource much of the University’s finance functions. BDO is a financial advisory firm that has extensive experience working with nonprofit and educational institutions, including higher education. They will begin their engagement with Drew on January 19.

As Senior Advisor to the President, John will work closely with me on the transition to BDO and will serve as an advisor and resource to them through his retirement date. Additionally, in this new role John will work on several other projects with me, the Cabinet, and other colleagues, and he will continue to oversee University Technology, which will ultimately transition to Provost Jessica Lakin in July. Again, I thank John for his service as a Cabinet member and VP/CFO for the past five years.

During their first 45 days at Drew, BDO will conduct an initial assessment of policies, protocols, procedures, reporting, and more, and will spend a significant amount of time speaking with the existing finance staff, as well as to various stakeholders—such as members of the board, individual Cabinet members, budget managers, etc. BDO will serve in a management capacity and will attend weekly Cabinet meetings. BDO will oversee Drew’s budget, accounting, and procurement functions beginning January 19.

As part of this overall transition, the reporting structure of the following areas will shift, effective January 19:

  • Student Accounts will join with Financial Aid to form a newly created Student Financial Services department within Enrollment Management. Student Financial Services will report to Colby McCarthy, dean of enrollment management, and Frank Merckx, vice president for enrollment management and student engagement.

  • Barb Bresnahan, chief of staff, will oversee Auxiliary Services, Human Resources, and Payroll.

  • Meredith Palmer, special assistant to the president and director of legal affairs and university policy, will serve as the primary liaison between Drew and Oasis.

  • Finally, Facilities will report directly to me.

During this time of transition, should you have any questions related to the financial operations of your area, please direct them to your department head or respective Cabinet member.

Lastly, I recognize we have announced a great deal of transition in a relatively short period of time. Please know these decisions have not been made hastily or without proper consideration, due diligence, and approval from the Board of Trustees. These efforts strive to create a strong and financially sound future for Drew University, and I thank you for your continued cooperation and good work.

With best wishes for a healthy new year,

Tom