Swarthmore College is a highly selective liberal arts college located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, whose mission combines academic rigor with social responsibility. Swarthmore has a strong institutional commitment to inclusive excellence and nondiscrimination in its educational program and employment practices and encourages candidates who will further advance the goal of fostering a diverse and inclusive community. As one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher learning, Swarthmore College is global in outlook and draws students from around the nation and world. The 425‐acre campus is a designated arboretum, complete with gardens, rolling lawns, a creek, wooded hills, and hiking trails in the Crum Woods. Swarthmore College was recently ranked number 3 in the 2021 US News Best National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings - https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/swarthmore-college-3370.
THE OPPORTUNITY The Vice President for Finance and Administration (and Treasurer) (hereinafter, “VP”) is the Chief Financial Officer of the College, a key member of President Valerie Smith’s senior staff, and is directly responsible for all financial and business affairs of the College. This position plays a critical role in supporting the strategic vision of the College and holds direct responsibility for managing several, critical operational functions for the College. The successful candidate will be a highly collaborative leader, partnering closely with the senior leadership team to support excellence at Swarthmore. They will have a deep appreciation for liberal arts education and an unwavering commitment to fulfilling the College’s mission, and supporting faculty, staff, and students in their pursuits.
Swarthmore has significant financial resources to support its academic mission. Its endowment has a current market value of approximately $2.9 billion, generating more than half the institution’s annual operating budget each year. Swarthmore ranks 11 in the nation in endowment-per-student. The new VP will join a strong and collaborative team of senior leaders during an exciting time at the College. A comprehensive and inclusive strategic planning process is underway, along with a continued and demonstrated commitment to sustainability. The Board of Managers recently approved $69 million towards the implementation of the Roadmap to Zero Carbon, committing to a carbon neutral campus by 2035.
The VP has fiduciary responsibility for all College resources and will interact with the faculty and all departments of the College to ensure strong stewardship of those resources. They will continually assess economic, demographic, competitive, and other trends to inform strategic decision-making, and the VP will provide input on financial impacts and other implications for the future strategic and economic health of the College. The VP will partner closely with and support the Swarthmore Board of Managers and five separate Board committees, including the Admissions and Financial Aid, Audit and Risk Management, Finance, Investments and Property committees.
Overseeing an annual operating budget of $180 million, this position manages a staff of approximately 350, with supervisory responsibility for eight direct reports in the following areas:
Finance and Risk Management
Facilities and Capital Planning
Required Qualifications: IDEAL EXPERIENCE Senior Finance and Administrative Experience Ten-plus years of experience in financial and operational leadership roles. Prior experience managing significant financial resources within higher education, preferably within a liberal arts environment, is preferred.
Strategic Partner A strategic orientation with the ability to serve as a partner and trusted advisor to the President, Provost, and other members of the College’s leadership team, as well as collaborate with other members of the senior leadership and members of the Board of Managers.
Leading a Talented Team A collaborative leader with experience in management roles providing operational leadership and mentorship to a talented team, including best-in-class professional development opportunities for staff.
Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commitment to, track record of, and impact in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Experience building and leading in an inclusive environment.
Partnership with Board Ability to collaborate and partner closely with the Board of Managers, including five separate Board committees.
Commitment to Sustainability Commitment to and the ability to uphold the College commitment to carbon neutrality by 2035, as outlined in the Roadmap to Zero Carbon, through the continued reduction of environmental harm while promoting just and sustainable systems.
Faculty and Staff Collaboration A commitment to collaboration, dialogue, and creative problem solving with faculty, staff leaders and partners.
Technical and Analytical Acumen Strong analytical skills and technical capability, including expertise with enterprise-wide systems.
Outstanding Communication Skills Ability to communicate complex financial information clearly to diverse audiences, both orally and in writing.
Strong Credentials Strong academic credentials required, including a preference for an M.B.A. and/or related graduate degree(s).
CRITICAL LEADERSHIP CAPABILITIES Strategic Leadership In an academic institution with a tradition of excellence, this individual will partner closely with the President, Provost and Vice President of Human Resources, working collaboratively with the leadership team to develop and optimize the financial and administrative assets to support the strategic priorities of the College by:
Hiring, developing, and mentoring a diverse team of finance and operational leaders; setting high standards and modeling a culture of service, integrity, and demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Demonstrating sound business judgement, balancing mission objectives with long-term financial and operational sustainability.
Bringing analytical rigor, creativity, and transparency to setting priorities and making investments to maximize the College’s financial, intellectual, cultural, and physical assets.
Applying leadership and strategic thinking to innovative investments and solutions that support and positively impact the College, including investments in academic programming, deferred maintenance, financial aid, benefits, etc.
In partnership with the Advancement team, develop long-term, strategic fundraising initiatives that align and leverage the strengths and objectives of the advancement and finance functions.
Communicating complex information to a range of audiences, including faculty, staff, alumni and students, and the Board, ensuring clarity around financial and programmatic practices, priorities and tradeoffs.
Leading and investing in the professional development of an existing team of direct reports.
Operational and Financial Acumen
The VP will provide strong financial and operational leadership and analysis that will support and enhance the mission of the College by:
Monitoring of financial performance to ensure intergenerational equity of the College’s finances and budgets, including multi-year forecasting, as well as monitoring of internal and external trends.
Developing and improving operational systems with a focus on efficiency, effectiveness, compliance, and continuous improvement.
Acting as a conceptual thinker, both analytically and financially astute, with the ability to evaluate performance and progress against long-term goals.
Bringing a sophisticated understanding of change management, strong analytical skills, and the ability to understand human, as well as financial, dynamics.
In collaboration with other key members of the senior leadership team, ensure the continued work on a comprehensive plan for critical facilities and programs, keeping an eye focused on the evolving needs of students and faculty.
Incorporating principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion into the work of all departments.
Collaborative Partnerships Forge a strong partnership with the Provost and other senior staff colleagues, and productive relationships across the College and throughout the broader Swarthmore community that are essential to effective leadership by:
Listening and being a visible and accessible leader who builds coalitions, solicits a diverse set of views, and then implements strategies that clearly support the priorities of the College.
Serving as a compassionate, approachable and visible leader who fosters a deep sense of community and togetherness throughout the College.
Developing an open and transparent relationship with Swarthmore faculty, with emphasis on those serving as senior officers, department, and program chairs within the College.
Promoting and fostering an inclusive community with exceptional standards for and demonstrated commitments to diversity, inclusion, accessibility, collegiality and professionalism. Nurturing productive, collaborative relationships with a wide range of internal and external constituencies – being both empathetic and motivating. Being a problem solver, engaging constructively with a focus on identifying solutions and clearing obstacles.
Bringing exceptional interpersonal, presentation, and communication skills. Displaying a demonstrated ability to engage openly and transparently across a diverse and complex community.
THE SEARCH PROCESS Swarthmore College has retained Spencer Stuart to support the search. If you wish to submit your own application materials or nominate someone to serve as the next Vice President for Finance and Administration (and Treasurer) for Swarthmore College, please send an e-mail message with supporting materials to SwarthmoreCFO@spencerstuart.com.
Swarthmore College actively seeks and welcomes applications from candidates with exceptional qualifications, particularly those with demonstrable commitments to a more inclusive society and world. Swarthmore College is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
Since its founding in 1864, Swarthmore College has given students the knowledge, insight, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good. Offering a liberal arts and engineering curriculum, the College is private, yet open to all regardless of financial need. It is also decidedly global in outlook, drawing students from around the world and all 50 states. The diversity of perspectives represented by Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff - including different viewpoints, identities, and histories - contributes to the community's strong sense of open dialogue and engagement with ideas and issues.