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Business Officers “on the Street”

October 2016


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NACUBO introduces a new activity at the 2016 Annual Meeting:
Short interviews with attendees in the Expo reveal compelling reasons for attending the annual conference.

As 2,580 business officers and campus leaders came together to share knowledge, gain skills, and enjoy Montréal, I set up shop in the middle of the crowded Expo Hall to ask NACUBO members one probing question—“Why do you attend the NACUBO Annual Meeting?” Four hours of footage and dozens of interviews later, three key trends emerged. The annual meeting provides attendees a forum to network, opportunities to learn from one another, and a resource to grow professionally. Hear from some of my interviewees why they choose to attend.

WHITNEY SAYCE is senior manager of marketing at NACUBO.

Building a Network

“The best part [of the annual meeting] is about getting away from your institution and gaining a new perspective and hearing that it’s not so different at other places—coming together to talk about the issues and seeing everyone’s passion and commitment to higher education.”

—Nicole Trufant, vice president of finance and administration, University of New England, Biddeford, Maine


“I know what it has done for me professionally in my own career, and I see that in other people, as well. Just the opportunity to learn from each other and ask questions, and have informal discussions is incredibly valuable when you go back to your institution and face the challenges we all have in terms of trying to get things done at our own universities.”

—Morgan Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer, and chief financial officer, Arizona State University, Tempe


“When you’re doing strategic planning and you’ve met someone here at the conference, you can always contact them and see what they’re doing. I firmly believe in not having to recreate the wheel.”

—Lynette Mitchell, assistant vice president for academic affairs and finance and administration, Idaho State University, Pocatello


“It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet with colleagues, discuss our latest adventures together, and really learn from what others are doing in the field. It’s very, very important. We have a tendency to be insular about how we approach things, and these are the best opportunities to exchange ideas and talk to other leaders and see what’s working and what’s not.”

—Harlan Sands, senior vice president for finance and administration, chief financial officer, and chief operating officer, University of Louisville, Ky.

Applying Learning Lessons

“Any time you learn something new, you can work with a broader viewpoint, so you can strategically think better and help your peers or colleagues and the faculty, staff, and students we support.”

—Anshu Tiku, associate director of tax and international operations, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia


“NACUBO provides one of the best opportunities for professional development for business officers in higher education. The association provides a lot of great sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and camaraderie and networking with other top level, higher education executives throughout the country. It cannot be beat.”

—Mike Unebasami, associate vice president for administrative affairs, University of Hawaii Community Colleges, Honolulu


“I learn something new every year that I come, and I use the information I gain here all the time, because NACUBO handles all areas. As a vice president, I’m overseeing facilities and human resources, compliance, and other multiple areas, so just that broad knowledge is what’s really great.”

—Alicia Currin, vice president for business and administration, and chief financial officer, Texas A&M University—Commerce
First registrant of the NACUBO 2016 Annual Meeting


“This is probably one of the most focused professional development activities I’ve ever done in my career. This is the thing I try to make sure that I come to every year. It has allowed me to focus on learning a lot of facts and to exchange ideas, which lets me focus on reading, coaching, and mentoring when I’m dealing with other topics and other considerations back home.”

—Christopher Lee, vice president of finance and administration, Lawrence University, Appleton, Wis.

Growing Professionally

“By coming to NACUBO, I gained a lot of knowledge, and it helped me become chief financial officer and ultimately the president of a college. Top programming makes the conference something for me to do every year.”

—Ron Rhames, president, Midlands Technical College, Columbia, S.C.



“It helps with my professional development because, over time, things change. It’s like [being] a great athlete. If you don’t keep your skills up, you can’t be competitive. The annual meeting helps me refine and improve my skill set, which makes me a better chief financial officer. NACUBO offers so many topics and subjects that help all of us do a better job to improve our institutions, which ultimately helps students across the country.”

—Sidney Evans, vice president for finance and management, Morgan State University, Baltimore


“To me, the meeting has helped my professional development in many ways. I started 20 years ago as a director, and here I learned more about the other things that happen in the education enterprise. I learned more about facilities. I learned more about financing of debt and facilities on our campus, and I learned more about HR by attending some great sessions on that. It’s really helped me grow. I’ve gone from a director to a senior CFO, and it’s been great.”

—John Case, senior vice president for operations and chief financial officer, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta


“The annual meeting always gives us more to think about. The evolution of our practices and our policies—a lot of that has to do with what we learn here at NACUBO.”

—Hung Le, associate vice president and university registrar, Pepperdine University,
Malibu, Calif.