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Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District, Golden Gate University (GGU) seeks a dynamic and entrepreneurial leader to serve as its Chief Financial Officer, Vice President of Finance and Administration (CFO). The CFO is responsible for providing leadership, guidance, direction, and oversight for all business functions of the University, including finance, accounting, facilities, HR, and IT in support of the achievement of the mission, vision, and values, and the strategic goals of Golden Gate. The position is a key strategic, leadership, and managerial role at Golden Gate University, and is a unique opportunity for a transformational leader to affect change at both the program and university levels by bringing innovative ideas for structure and growth to a long-standing institution with a commitment to quality and serving a diverse student body, including a substantial number of working student learners.
About Golden Gate University
For 120 years, this accredited, non-profit university has been helping students achieve their personal and career goals by providing undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in business, law, public service, and related areas. Lauded by the New York Times as “a model for how other institutions can adapt to the newer, older face of American college students,” GGU provides students with knowledge and skills that are immediately applicable in rapidly evolving professions.
Golden Gate University’s academic model is built upon two major elements. The first encompasses a range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs primarily focused on serving working professionals. GGU’s other main academic focus lies upon its law school, which primarily serves traditional law students through programming that reflects the School’s orientation toward social justice in the legal field. As the needs of working professionals continue to evolve, GGU seeks to expand its impact through innovative solutions and hybrid programming models for students. Together, the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, along with the full-time law school, constitute the foundation for a unique university that has successfully met the needs of career-minded students for more than a century.
Golden Gate University remains highly attuned to the needs of the local market, shaped by its location in the heart of one of the world’s most innovative economic regions. GGU leverages the innovation and dynamism of the San Francisco Bay Area and the region’s embrace of social and cultural progress to be a model for all higher education institutions seeking to promote social mobility and career advancement.
This is an exciting time at the University as it continues to build innovative programs in law, public service, undergraduate, and graduate business, including a recently launched initiative to significantly enhance the experience of veterans and active-duty military students, a revamped brand platform to be rolled out in the coming months, and a rich array of faculty-generated and employer-connected professional development opportunities. These programs further expand GGU’s high-quality educational offerings to meet the growing demand of part-time working professionals, as well as full-time international and law students.
History & Context
Golden Gate University that traces its roots back to the founding of the San Francisco YMCA in 1881, which included a “YMCA night school.” Beginning in 1901, the school offered the first evening law school program in California, and in 1908 began the first four-year accounting program on the West Coast. GGU moved to the YMCA Golden Gate Avenue location in 1910 and became the “YMCA Law School.” It was incorporated in 1923 as Golden Gate College. In 1959, Golden Gate University received its initial Western Association for Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation as a specialized institution in the fields of business administration, law, and related curricula.
GGU is governed by an engaged, 18-member board of trustees which meets four times a year and maintains an active committee schedule. The CFO/VPFA will serve on the president’s cabinet along with the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for University Advancement.
GGU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission and currently offers degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. GGU’s Law School is accredited by the American Bar Association. The School of Undergraduate Studies offers: one AA, six bachelor’s degree programs, and twenty undergraduate certificate programs. Graduate programs in business, tax and accounting include: one Doctorate of Business Administration (currently not accepting new students), 16 master’s degrees, three estate planning and taxation degrees, one dual degree in estate planning/tax and 24 graduate certificates. Degrees in the School of Law include the JD (full time and part-time modalities; same degree), seven LLMs and one SJD.
Golden Gate University currently enrolls approximately 3,430 students, 964 undergraduate students, 1,893 graduate business students and 573 law students. Of the total number of undergraduate and graduate business students, 43% are full-time and 57% are part-time (Fall 2020); 42% are women and 58% male; 52% are students of color. The Law School student body is currently 76% full-time and is one of the most diverse in the country: overall, 57% of the law school are students of color, and the Fall 2020 incoming class was represented by 53% first-generation college students; 86% first-generation law students; and 20% identifying as LGBTQ+.
In addition to the San Francisco location, GGU has campuses in both Seattle and Silicon Valley. GGU Seattle offers a Master of Science in Taxation and Graduate Certificates in Taxation during the evenings and online. The Silicon Valley location is one of GGU’s regional learning centers enabling students to combine weeknight and in-person classes to complete their degrees.
Golden Gate’s operating budget for the 2022 fiscal year is approximately $50.3 million with $92.8 million in total net assets, including quasi, permanently restricted & accumulated earnings, and an endowment of $50.6 million. With over 60,000 alumni and donors across the country, recent advancement successes include a $2M grant to establish the Helen Diller Center for Veterans (FY20). GGU has received $15M in gifts in the last three fiscal years compared to $7.2M in the previous period.
Dr. David J. Fike was appointed President of Golden Gate University in 2015. In addition to leading GGU, Dr. Fike is active in the broader higher education community, currently serving as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) and as a member of the Tax Policy Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).
Dr. Fike was formerly the president of Marygrove College, a century-old liberal arts institution in Detroit. He joined Marygrove in 2005, serving as provost for one year before becoming Marygrove’s president. During his nine-year presidential tenure, Dr. Fike provided the strategic vision that recast the college’s legacy as a commitment to develop students’ talents, skills, and dispositions to lead in urban communities and he garnered the resources, including a three-year $1.5M curriculum development grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to support faculty in carrying out this commitment.
The search for the Provost is nearing completion, and a new Vice President for University Advancement was recently appointed. Announcements will be made in this calendar year. The new CFO will be part of the leadership team and will have an opportunity to participate in the development and implementation of a new strategic plan starting in 2022.
For more information on Golden Gate University, please visit www.ggu.edu.
About San Francisco
San Francisco is often called “Everybody’s Favorite City,” a title earned by its scenic beauty, parks, cultural attractions, diverse communities, neighborhoods, and world-class cuisine. A stroll of the city’s streets can lead from Union Square to North Beach to Fisherman’s Wharf, with intriguing neighborhoods to explore at every turn. In a space of 47 square miles and a population of about 900,000, San Francisco is a small part of the surrounding Bay Area population of 8 million strong. With more than 100 languages spoken on the street, San Francisco is considered one of the top 15 most diverse cities in America. San Francisco is one of the best cities for young professionals in America, and also one of the healthiest.
Reporting to the President, the CFO will be responsible for overseeing, maintaining, and enhancing the University’s overall financial health and aligning the allocation of university resources with the University’s strategic priorities. The CFO will be entering the University at an exciting time with a new leadership team forming, robust strategic planning efforts, and a renewed commitment to the unique opportunity and impact universities like GGU can have for underrepresented students and working professionals.
In leading the financial portfolio, the CFO will oversee finance, human resources, and information technology and systems functions across the University. The CFO will also be responsible for leading the management, operations, and maintenance of GGU’s facilities, including the main campus facility (downtown San Francisco): one building, 210,000 square feet; rental property (downtown San Francisco): one building, 45,000 square feet; and rental property (Monterey, CA): three buildings totaling 12,225 square feet on 7.1 acres. Additionally, the CFO will oversee compliance and risk management functions, creating policies and procedures, managing insurance contracts, and engaging outside legal counsel as needed.
The CFO’s advice and counsel will be critical in conversations regarding GGU’s financial future, including planning and implementation of large capital projects, potential mergers and acquisitions, financial analysis and evaluation of potential revenue streams, campus improvements, and university-wide strategic planning.
The CFO will have the opportunity to innovate and improve services toward greater integration, optimization, and efficiencies. They will guide the University through the decision-making process and change management required to adopt advanced and emerging technologies and successfully navigate the complexities of the COVID and post-COVID world, including expanded access to technology across functions and adding value for multiple constituents.
The CFO will have a team of direct reports including a Director of Student Financial Services; Director of Financial Planning and Analytics; Associate Director of Business Analytics; Director of Financial Services and Controller; Executive Director Business Services, Facilities, and Administration; Chief Human Resource Officer and Title IX Coordinator; and the Chief Information Officer. There are 60 full time members of the finance and administration team as well as 10 part-time employees.
Priorities and Opportunities of the next CFO include:
- Stewarding GGU’s financial and budgetary operations through a time of change. With new leadership this is a welcome time of change and transition for GGU. The University has remained nimble throughout COVID and other financial challenges in recent years, and the CFO will be instrumental in seizing and building upon this unique opportunity to help the University fully leverage its mission and value. The CFO will also be responsible for ensuring the financial and budget systems, and business processes are aligned with the current and future needs of the institution to meet its strategic goals.
- Assessing the current budget model to ensure greater accuracy and transparency. The new CFO will assess the current structure and work collaboratively with leadership to devise and implement a budget model that improves transparency, decision making capability, and access to data to inform financial decisions, business intelligence, and rich data analysis.
- Supporting the planning, development, and implementation of an inclusive strategic plan for the institution. The CFO will work with University leaders to implement planning priorities and continuously monitor progress towards goals. As the university identifies strategic priorities, the CFO will develop analysis and resource plans to support initiatives. During this process the CFO will engage the campus community and stakeholders on vision, values, and strategic direction, and connect the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access to the institutional planning process. The CFO will seek opportunities to work together, leverage collective resources and talents, and establish cross-institutional priorities and initiatives.
The ideal candidate will have a record of successful and progressively responsible financial management, administrative, and business roles within medium-sized, complex organizations. As a successful leader, the CFO will bring a demonstrated record of success in building relationships and communicating with confidence across organizations with a variety of constituents, including University administration, staff, faculty, students, and external partners. In leading a team to manage the University’s finances, the ideal candidate will utilize sound business judgment and an analytical mindset to navigate complex financial situations and develop innovative strategies for solving any issues that arise.
A bachelor’s degree or baccalaureate plus relevant financial leadership and extensive management experience is required. An advanced degree such as an MBA, JD, or other advanced degrees and/or certification in the fields of accounting (e.g., CPA), business, finance, or management is preferred.
Previous experience in higher education is preferred, however, finance and business leaders with a variety of experiences with a passion for our mission and values are encouraged to apply.
The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:
Financial Expertise and Administrative Management
The ideal candidate will utilize deep knowledge of financial planning, analysis, and management to develop and implement strategies, policies, and business practices that improve measurable outcomes and align with broader organizational strategy. The CFO will have experience using technology solutions to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of university resources in order to better assess, prioritize and operationalize solutions. Serving as an expert resource in these areas for the Board of Trustees and President, the CFO will draw upon keen quantitative reasoning and analysis skills and data evidence to provide thoughtful insight on projects and lead the University forward with a focused and pragmatic strategy.
Strategic and Entrepreneurial Leadership
In overseeing a broad portfolio, the CFO will act as a change agent and remain flexible in adapting to emerging and developing needs of the University. Working in partnership with the President, the CFO will be able to successfully develop and implement clear, action-oriented, and innovative strategies to grow organizational capacity and improve service across a variety of functions within the University. This leader will inspire high performance and enhance morale to build, nurture, and retain a strong team of professionals that is focused on excellence, accountability, and efficiency. The CFO will be a strategic, results-driven leader with demonstrated success in similarly complex roles with increasing responsibility.
The CFO will possess a high level of business acumen and judgment, with the ability to make practical, realistic, data driven, and timely decisions. This individual will understand, analyze, and interpret complex problems and achieve sustainable solutions with the sophistication, creativity, and openness needed to identify and implement new strategies to ‘get things done.’ This leader will be nimble, strategic, and collaborative at incorporating perspectives while informing decisions based on best practices of a shared governance model.
Relationship Builder and Collaborator
The ideal candidate will bring demonstrated success in developing, cultivating, leveraging, and managing major relationships and partnerships with a proven record of closing deals. The CFO will collaborate closely with the President in developing strong working relationships across all academic and administrative functions. Using strong facilitation and negotiation skills, the CFO will employ clear and concise communication to share information with a diverse range of constituents, including the Board of Trustees, faculty, provost, academic deans, staff, students, and external stakeholders. Leading with transparency, the ideal candidate will effectively provide senior leaders and direct reports alike with relevant, updated information related to overall financial and administrative matters and coalesce the community around a common path forward.
Passion for the Mission
The ideal candidate will have a passion and commitment for Golden Gate University’s unique mission, history, and its work and draw inspiration from the GGU community. As a member of the senior leadership team, the CFO will be able to clearly envision how their role contributes to the greater university mission of cultivating and sustaining a positive experience for students, faculty, staff, and fellow leaders in the University’s administration. Reflecting GGU’s values, the CFO will embody unquestioned integrity and ethics and inspire others to lead with respect and empathy. In alignment with the GGU’s mission, this leader will bring a demonstrated record of supporting and driving initiatives to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging to continue enhancing the experience of every member of this community.
Compensation & Benefits
Compensation for this role is competitive and commensurate with experience.
Beth Schaefer and Marisa Chock of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Golden Gate University is committed to creating a campus environment where everyone is welcome and encourages applications from individuals of diverse or underrepresented communities, as well as applicants with a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Golden Gate University is an equal employment opportunity employer. The university supports
inclusive excellence and are committed to creating a safe and welcoming community for all.
University policy prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national
origin, ancestry, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition, physical
or mental disability, gender stereotyping, and gender identity, taking a protected leave (e.g.,
family medical or pregnancy leave), or on any other basis protected by applicable laws.
The University has a strong commitment to the principles of diversity and inclusion, and
to maintaining working and learning environments that reinforces these practices. The University welcomes and encourages applications from all, especially women, minorities, people of
color, veterans, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQI community.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.