Assistant Vice President and Controller:
Lafayette College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions is seeking a strategic and hands-on leader for the position of Assistant Vice President and Controller (the “Controller”). Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Finance and Business, this position is the chief accounting officer of the College responsible for the integrity, security, and accuracy of the accounting and financial systems of the institution. The Controller oversees general accounting, restricted funds and investment accounting, disbursements, and student accounting. The Controller manages a staff of thirteen.
Lafayette College is an independent institution offering undergraduate Bachelor of Arts, Science, and Engineering degrees. The College is located on a hilltop (known as “College Hill”) overlooking the Delaware River in Easton, Pennsylvania, which is approximately 70 miles west of New York City and 60 miles north of Philadelphia. The College was chartered in 1826 and named for the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette. The College is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and has an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students. Lafayette’s faculty is composed of approximately 230 full-time members and 47 part-time members. Approximately 62% of the full-time faculty is currently tenured. Approximately 98% of the full-time faculty holds doctorate or appropriate equivalent degrees in their subject areas. The student to faculty ratio is approximately 10.3:1.
Lafayette’s main 110-acre campus is home to 80 academic, residential, and student activity buildings as well as athletic playing fields. Adjacent to the southern border, at a lower elevation than the main campus, the College has acquired five acres of additional property and established the Williams Arts Campus. Three miles north of the main campus, Metzgar Athletic Fields provide 165 acres dedicated to the College’s athletic and outdoor recreational programs.
In February 2016, the Board of Trustees approved a strategic direction, which articulates a set of initiatives that the College seeks to fund and implement over the next five to ten years. The College intends to grow the size of the student body to 2,850 – 2,900 students to enhance competitiveness by allowing increased course offerings and further increase the quality and diversity of the student body. Specifically, the College seeks to: (a) expand its financial aid resources to improve access and affordability, with the goal of becoming a college that can admit the most qualified students regardless of their family’s financial means, (b) enhance faculty recruitment and retention through competitive compensation, (c) build a new Integrated Sciences Center, and (d) construct new housing to support the enrollment goals.
As a matter of practice, the College constructs balanced annual operating budgets. The operating budget is maintained on a modified accrual basis of accounting with revisions to the budget and projected year-end operating results reviewed with the Financial Policy Committee of the Board at each meeting, which occurs three or four times per year. These interim budget reports are indirectly comparable to audited financial statements that are prepared on a full accrual basis in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. The College strives to maintain a state of “financial equilibrium,” defined as (a) a balanced operating budget that provides resources available for investment in College priorities; (b) preservation and enhancement of the physical plant; and (c) growth of its financial assets. The College’s operating and capital budgets, long-range financial plan, investment management, and fundraising efforts are all directed toward maintaining an appropriate balance among these three objectives.
The College has been successful in meeting these objectives. Operating budgets are balanced and the College has committed additional resources to the preservation and enhancement of its buildings and campus. The endowment has grown despite the “Great Recession” and its subsequent challenges. Lafayette has had healthy financial results throughout the past five fiscal years. The budget has generated positive operating cash flow margins of 15.1%, on average, over this period. Operating revenues grew, on average, 4.6% per year while operating expenses grew, on average, 3.9%. Total net assets have grown to $942 million, just over $149 million at an average annual rate of about 4.3% over this period. This growth is primarily due to strong operational performance, investment return, and fund raising. As of June 30, 2017, the College’s endowment and similar funds were valued at nearly $883 million.
Finance and Administration Leadership:
Roger Demareski, Vice President for Finance and Administration
Roger Demareski was appointed as the College’s Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer in November 2014. Prior to joining Lafayette, Mr. Demareski served as Associate Vice President for Facilities Operations at Princeton University since 2008. Before arriving at Princeton, Mr. Demareski spent eight years at Seton Hall University as Associate Vice President for Administration following ten years with the Turner Construction Company. Mr. Demareski holds a degree in Civil Engineering from Villanova University and an M.B.A. from Seton Hall University.
Craig Becker, Associate Vice President for Finance and Business
Craig Becker is responsible for all fiscal and business matters encompassing budgeting, accounting, treasury, financial systems, risk, procurement, tax management, and auxiliary services. He previously served in senior positions at Yeshiva University, The New School, Seton Hall University, the New York Institute of Technology, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Prior to working in higher education, Mr. Becker was a manager in KPMG Peat Marwick’s higher education practice. Mr. Becker earned a Master of Science in Accounting from the Northeastern University, Graduate School of Professional Accounting and a Master of Public Administration from the State University of New York at Albany, Graduate School of Public Affairs. Mr. Becker is a certified public accountant.
The Assistant Vice President and Controller (the “Controller”) serves as the college’s Chief Accountant and supervises the accounting, disbursement, and student accounts operations. The Controller is responsible for accounting and GAAP financial statements and has a major role in the formulation of the policies and procedures governing the College’s financial and accounting matters. The Controller oversees the general ledger system and is responsible for the monthly and annual closing processes to ensure completeness and timeliness, and the generation of monthly, quarterly, and annual financial statements and reports. The Controller, reporting to the Associate Vice President for Finance & Business, supervises general accounting, restricted funds and investment accounting, disbursements, and student accounts and serves as a liaison to the Development and Investment Offices. The Controller directs the external audit of the financial statements.
Primary Duties and Responsibilities of the Controller include:
- Financial Statement Preparation – Prepares the consolidated annual financial statements. The Controller coordinates with the Budget Office in the preparation of monthly and quarterly trial balances, variance reports, management discussion and analysis reports, and financial statements. The Controller oversees the preparation of reports required by regulatory agencies;
- Financial Closings and Audit – Oversees monthly and year-end closing of the College’s financial accounting system and directs the completion of the annual audit. The Controller serves as the primary liaison with the auditors during the annual financial statements audit and other audits. During the audit, coordinates providing the requested information to the external auditors and responsible for the review of schedules prepared by staff;
- General Ledger Maintenance – Responsible for maintaining the accuracy and integrity, of the college’s accounting system and ensures the appropriate account classification in the financial statements;
- Accounting Pronouncements – Analyzes and implements new accounting pronouncements issued by the FASB and AICPA;
- Taxation – Ensures necessary tax schedules are prepared accurately and on a timely basis for all required Forms 990, 990T, and other required census and government surveys
- Disbursements and Student Accounts – Oversees the College’s disbursement function, including accounts payable and payroll, and student accounts function;
- College Community Assistance – Provides financial accounting assistance and training to the College community. This may include preparation of analyses, journal entry processing and processing accounting corrections. The Controller participates in college-wide committees as assigned;
- Special Projects – Performs special projects and ad hoc assignments.
The role of Assistant Vice President and Controller offers outstanding opportunities for institutional impact as well as personal and professional growth. Lafayette College plans to grow in the coming 5-10 years and requires sound financial leadership in order to meet its growth objectives. Specifically, the Controller will:
- Provide for the protection of College assets by establishing and maintaining adequate internal controls, regardless of where the organizational responsibility for implementation and/or operation of controls lies;
- Serve as a core member of the finance and business leadership team, delivering outstanding customer service to the campus community, enabling sound financial management, implementing innovative business solutions, and optimizing staff performance and development;
- Provide inspired leadership to the College and those supervised by this position, setting high standards of professional conduct and competence, and furnishing the leadership necessary to assure an optimum level of staff and staff expertise;
- Provide strategic thinking and leadership to improve financial systems, policies, and processes, improving service delivery, reducing costs, and maintaining effective controls;
- Stay abreast of new developments, trends, and the regulatory environment and communicate with campus and external colleagues about how technical accounting financial standards, emerging issues, and changes in financial reporting may impact campus operations and the College’s ability to meet its strategic objectives;
- Position the team to support College initiatives for growth, planning, and continuous improvement in a highly competitive environment that requires strategic use of resources;
- Collaborate with all areas of the College to streamline procedures, gain operational efficiencies and improve communications with a focus on evolving financial systems; and
- Act as an important collaborator during the upgrade and optimization of Banner 9, including usage and reporting, payroll processing, and all accounting transaction processing.
Qualifications and Experience:
The successful candidate will be a “working Controller” and a leader of the highest integrity who operates with a collegial and transparent communication style and with a focus on continuous improvement. Required qualifications include:
- A bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance and a minimum of ten years of progressive experience in public accounting or experience as a controller or similar position, or an equivalent combination;
- Strong accounting technical skills and the ability to research and formalize accounting treatment of significant transactions;
- Knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles, tax compliance, and internal audit;
- Experience with process redesign, quality improvement projects, customer service initiatives, and managing complex financial systems;
- Demonstrated experience in staff management and preparation of financial statements;
- A strong service orientation, with the proven ability to balance controls and compliance and effectively communicate decisions and educate in the process;
- Strong problem-solving skills and the ability to set priorities, troubleshoot situations, work under pressure, and manage multiple tasks and deadlines;
- Outstanding interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate effectively in both written and oral forms with College constituents, particularly faculty, trustees, and institutional leaders;
- Strong information systems, spreadsheet, and analytical skills;
- Appreciation for and understanding of a mission-oriented institution including a focus on service and the ability to work within a collaborative environment with cross-functional teams;
- A commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and equity; and
- A CPA is highly desirable and preferred qualifications include a MBA, expertise in higher education accounting, and previous Banner experience.
Koya Leadership Partners is assisting Lafayette with this hire. This search is being led by:
Tom Phillips, Principal
Josyanne Roche, Consultant
Nominations and applications, including a detailed letter of interest, qualifications, and a current curriculum vitae, should be submitted here.
Lafayette College is committed to creating a diverse community: one that is inclusive and responsive, and is supportive of each member of the faculty, student body, and staff. All members of the College community share a responsibility for creating and maintaining a learning environment in which difference is valued, equity is sought, and inclusiveness is practiced.
Lafayette College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, disability, religion, age, military or veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or familial status, pregnancy, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law in its educational programs and activities, admissions, or employment as required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (which requires that the College not discriminate on the basis of sex); the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (which requires that the College not discriminate on the basis of disability); Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which requires that the College not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin); and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which requires that the College not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin); and other applicable laws and College policies.
About Koya Leadership Partners:
Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with higher education institutions, mission-driven organizations and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.