Northeastern University has retained the national executive search firm Isaacson Miller to assist in this search. All inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications should be sent in confidence to:
Northeastern University, a rapidly growing, globally networked university, seeks an accomplished and innovative Vice President for Finance (VPF). Reporting to Thomas Nedell, the Senior Vice President and Treasurer, the VPF is the financial officer of the University responsible for providing overall leadership and strategic direction for treasury, debt, endowment management, student collections, general accounting, internal and external financial reporting, taxation, procurement, payments, internal consulting and auxiliary services. The VPF will serve as a thought partner and trusted advisor to Northeastern's senior leadership team. They will also be a senior liaison across the University providing support and guidance in developing and implementing financial strategies to enable Northeastern to fulfill its mission to create a vibrant and diverse community, characterized by collaboration, creativity, respect, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
Founded in 1898 as a private university, Northeastern was known as a commuter school in the heart of Boston. In 2006, when Joseph Aoun became Northeastern's seventh president, the University embarked on an ambitious course to strengthen its leadership position in experiential and cooperative education; create global programs with an urban perspective; foster a research environment where faculty uncover solutions to real-world problems; and build innovative partnerships to better serve its students, alumni, and the broader global community.
Since then, the University has significantly increased the quality, selectivity and success of its student body, the quality of, and support for, scholarly research, and transformed its physical campuses both functionally and aesthetically. Today, it is a technologically infused, globally located, diverse, research intensive, comprehensive university with experiential education deeply embedded in its educational offerings. It is aimed at the future, teaching students to adapt to the swift changes of the age of artificial intelligence and to do what is human and cannot be duplicated: to create, to innovate, to work with cultural agility and empathy, among the diverse peoples of the globe. It has campuses in Boston, Burlington (MA), Charlotte, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Portland (ME), London, Nahant (MA), Toronto and Vancouver, an operating budget of S1.6B. We expect to complete a merger with Mills College in Oakland, California on or about July 1, 2022. Together Mills College and Northeastern University will create a bicoastal university powered by Northeastern's global experiential learning and research and strengthened by Mills' legacy in women's leadership, equity and social justice. It offers more than 175 undergraduate majors in eight colleges and programs, more than 150 master's degree and certificate programs and 33 doctoral programs.
For this critical position, Northeastern is seeking a strategic, forward looking finance professional who is eager to play a central role in supporting the University's continuous quest to evolve how universities serve learners and innovators for generations to come -- someone who will contribute ideas and impact to this vital mission. The successful candidate will be a relationship builder who can make financial functions more transparent and create opportunities for ideas to be exchanged at all levels of the institution. They will be a leader and resource, a good listener and a collaborator to all departments and divisions and create a greater sense of the services and expertise that the Finance Division provides. The VPF will also spearhead initiatives to improve service and increase operational efficiency in financial processes by identifying and implementing new systems to enable the University to maximize resources. Northeastern University has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this important search. All applications, inquiries, and nominations, which will remain confidential, should be directed to the search firm as indicated at the end of this document.
THE NORTHEASTERN TRAJECTORY
Northeastern has evolved dramatically over the past generation, accelerating steadily since 2006 under the leadership of President Joseph E. Aoun. He and his senior leadership team have created an excellent, private, research university, building on its unique position as a leader in learning and discovery, powered by global experience and engagement. Under his leadership, external research awards more than quadrupled, exceeding $238 million in 2021-2022; a growth that they expect to top $250 million in the next few years. At the same time, the mean two-part SAT score for the fall 2021 freshmen class was 1484, placing it among the most academically selective universities in the nation. To expand its learning and research, the president also led Northeastern to build a network of campuses in the U.S., UK, and Canada which has fueled growth and added to the more than 3,000 partnerships Northeastern maintains with institutions and companies worldwide.
To attain these goals, Northeastern has systematically invested in its programs and physical plant. The Boston campus has been transformed, with award winning residence halls, labs, and classroom space. In 2017, the University opened the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, a 220,000-square-foot, nationally acclaimed research building that has been a magnet for science and engineering talent. EXP, an adjacent 360,000-square-foot laboratory building is due to open in 2023.
Student interest in Northeastern is powered by Northeastern's cooperative education or 'co-op' program, in which students work or engage in research in more than 130 countries, while remaining integrated with their academic program. Most students complete two or three co-ops. Nine months after graduation, 98 percent of Northeastern graduates are employed or in graduate school, the vast majority in work related to their major, the majority with a co-op employer. Northeastern has become a personal pathway for intellectually and personally ambitious students. The appeal has strengthened consistently and shows no signs of abating.
In a simultaneous development, Northeastern has built a network of campuses, in cities with robust economies, in the US and abroad. To date, they largely serve lifelong learners, who seek professional educational credentials that accelerate their careers in cities with a strong entrepreneurial and often technological flavor. Over time, they will morph to become platforms for the entire university resulting in a true global university system. Campuses are located in Boston, Charlotte, Portland (ME), Seattle, Silicon Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, Vancouver, London and the Massachusetts communities of Burlington and Nahant and soon to add Mills College in Oakland, California. The network expands regularly with much careful planning. Total professional, graduate education revenue has grown from $106 million in 2011, when the network was launched, to $531 million in 2022. As the global university system continues to evolve our locations in London and Oakland, California will join our Boston campus as fully undergraduate-enabled degree granting sites.
The university has historically run lean, with very modest overhead. This efficiency has allowed for substantial investment in Northeastern 2025, the current Academic Plan. Fundraising has consistently improved from an average of $22 million a year in 2006, to $90M in FY 2022. Net proceeds from operations hit $100 million in 2021 after fully funding depreciation each year, a fund it spends on academic facilities. Both endowment and working capital have expanded dramatically, upgrading the university's Moody's rating to A1. With highly diversified revenue streams, the university has built plentiful resources to fuel its strategic plan.
Northeastern has the tempo of a start-up and the culture of a partnership. The leadership team owns all of the University's goals and each member's personal contribution to the enterprise is reviewed. The president and his team are optimistic, enthusiastic, and willing to experiment. They all own each other's work, and none are constrained by their roles.
Northeastern's financial plan, created by a collaboration between the Board of Trustees and the administration, is carefully tailored. It sets goals that are strictly achievable, seeks diversified revenue streams that improve resiliency, steadily builds the balance sheet through net revenue and innovative financing, consciously controls administrative costs, and constantly invests in the academic mission. This disciplined approach has been critical to Northeastern's remarkable growth over the last 15 years.
The University's total operating revenues for 2022 were $1.8 billion which has more than quadrupled since 2006. Total net assets have grown from $835 million in 2006 to $2.9 billion in 2022. Working capital improved from $55 million to over $500 million in the same period. Net debt to net assets declined steadily as the university stewarded its resources from 55 percent to 16 percent with net debt of $494 million, a function of steadily rising assets. In 2018, Moody's upgraded the university from A2 to A1, a rating it retains today.
Revenue from tuition and fees after discounts has grown from $337 million in 2006 to $1.3 billion in 2022. First time, full-time freshmen have a discount rate of about 40 percent; the overall discount rate to the budgeted target is 35 percent. Professional graduate level revenues grew from $125 million in 2012, when the regional campuses launched, to $531 million in 2022. Net revenue from operations have improved in the same period, from $3.7 million in 2006 to over $100 million in 2022.
The endowment has grown steadily from fund raising, operating surpluses, and one-time leases and sales, and now exceeds $1 billion, up from $350 million in 2009, at the bottom of the financial crisis. Northeastern maximizes its assets. It has built impressive new student residences, contributing land to projects that private developers capitalize. It has leased and sold peripheral assets, including student housing in historic buildings, parking and conference centers to private investors and managers. One-time net from sales and leases have bolstered the endowment.
In its internal financial management, Northeastern moved in 2010 to a modified Responsibility Centered Management (RCM) system that allocates income and expenses to the colleges. The model incents innovation and growth as RCM systems do. The provost and the SVP/CFO modify the system regularly, in keeping with the needs of the university's Academic Plan. Increasingly, the deans' goals are university wide and their metrics encourage embedding programs in the regional campuses and in cross-university investments, which is best exemplified by the two large science and engineering buildings and in program development across schools that align with university goals. The RCM system carefully balances university strategy, school centric entrepreneurship, and cross university innovation.
Thomas Nedell, Senior Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, joined Northeastern in 2009 as vice president for finance. He reports to the president and manages the fiscal affairs of the University. He is responsible for establishing and monitoring sound financial controls within the university community to ensure the University has the budgetary resources needed to achieve its ambitious goals. His portfolio includes campus planning, facilities, human resources, finance, audit and advisory services, and treasury, including oversight of the university's endowment.
Nedell is credited with helping to foster the University's growth. During his tenure, several large-scale growth opportunities became a reality. Northeastern hired hundreds of faculty members, invested in new technologies, doubled graduate revenue, and struck money-saving, revenue-sharing partnership deals for campus parking and student housing-all in the interest of supporting the teaching and research mission of the institution. The University also erected new buildings, including the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex on the Boston campus and, nearby, the EXP building which is under construction. The eight-story, 350,000-square-foot structure will eventually house teaching and research labs.
As Northeastern contended with the onset of the global health crisis, Nedell recognized the urgency and, ultimately, the need to invest rather than retrench and helped steer the University forward. The COVID-19-related safety measures that the University implemented to keep the doors open required a substantial, multi-million dollar investment, and included decorated dining tents, outdoor fire pits, and other measures that brought a sense of community and energy to the Boston campus, that did not go unnoticed by prospective students and their parents. In 2021, the University was flooded with a record of more than 90,000 applications for the freshman class. Enrollment figures also showed sharp increases in Black, Hispanic, and multi-racial students who arrived in the fall. For his outstanding stewardship of the University's finances, Nedell was honored as a 2021 CFO of the Year by the Boston Business Journal.
Prior to joining Northeastern, he held several positions over 18 years at St. John's University in New York, including his last post as vice president for business affairs and treasurer. A board member of the Boston Consortium for Higher Education, Nedell holds a bachelor's degree from Boston College and a Master of Business Administration from St. John's University.
As a critical member of the Finance Office's senior leadership team, the Vice President for Finance will oversee a team of approximately 50 and be responsible for providing overall leadership and strategic direction for:
Debt and Treasury Operations: The VPF provides leadership of all items relating to debt financing, which includes: Work with the Assistant Treasurer, SVP and External Consultants to identify credit strategies that broadly enable the University's strategic goals, and that remain consistent with the Long Range Plan; oversee the management of the University's credit portfolio that includes bonds, lines of credit, and capital leases; ensure enhanced treasury operations through best practices in the areas of treasury risk, assessing the financial marketplace, business environment issues and asset and liability issues in working capital. Oversight of all aspects of cash management including: service of all debt financing including bonds, lines of credit, and capital leases; Establishment and maintenance of banking relationships; Preparation of cash flow projections; Processing and liquidation of stock and property gifts received by the University; Handling of all short-term endowment cash investments.
Accounting: The VPF will lead the efforts in accounting, and reporting systems through the preparation of timely and accurate financial reports and analyses; reviewing and developing key financial processes to ensure compliance and integrity; improving, creating, and implementing policies and procedures where necessary; providing support for tax advice and policy, and developing a strong organization within the unit. The individual will act as a change-agent to ensure the organization is one that supports the future financial needs of the University.
Endowment Management: In partnership with the Assistant Treasurer, the Vice President for Finance supports the Investment Committee of the board, including: work with the external investment consultant and investment managers to review practices and procedures to ensure best practices; oversees the preparation of detailed reports and analyses of endowment and other invested funds for the Chief Financial Officer and the Investment Committee; and oversees handling of all non-endowment investments including deferred gifts.
Business Services: The Vice President for Finance manages the team that oversees the business partners that serve the needs of students, faculty and staff each day and enrich the quality of life for the entire campus community. These services include: bookstore, mail, parking, vending, multi-function devices, laundry, printing, Husky Card vendors, the beverage contract and dining services. The VPF will provide critical leadership in helping the team evaluate alternatives and develop innovative ways to provide these services more efficiently to Northeastern's growing student population in Boston and other locations nationally and internationally.
Internal Consulting: The VPF oversees internal consulting which serves Northeastern community members in support of business process improvement and change management. This small team provides resources and coaching related to business analysis, ideation, and project management.
KEY OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
The Vice President for Finance will play a critical role in sustaining and accelerating Northeastern's development as a comprehensive, global, experiential, research university, including ensuring the University has the financial expertise needed to support its growing international activities. Specific opportunities and challenges will be to:
Build and maintain collaborative relations across the University
The Vice President for Finance will foster and maintain strong interdivisional relationships across the institution by ensuring financial transparency and increasing communication at all levels of the organization. They will be a leader and resource, good listener and collaborator to all departments and divisions to create a greater sense of the services and expertise that the Finance division provides.
Improve Service and Increase Operational Efficiency
Northeastern is currently using the Banner system. The University is considering the procurement of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution(s) and/or an upgrade of the current ERP. This will potentially include organizational change management and the successful candidate must be an experienced leader who can evaluate organizational structures and improve processes and systems to meet these changing needs. The operational efficiencies realized from modernized systems infrastructure and updated business processes will improve customer service, increase daily efficiency, and present opportunities for team mentorship and development.
Lead and Mentor Staff
At Northeastern, with so many moving parts, everything depends on a high degree of mission alignment and on constant dialogue and collaboration. The Vice President for Finance will oversee a dedicated group of employees who will benefit from excellent mentoring, support, and opportunities for professional development. The VPF will establish clear objectives and foster a culture of transparency, mutual respect, service, accountability, and a commitment to provide excellent customer service across the University.
Support and facilitate the work of the president's senior leadership team
Working hand-in-glove with the president's senior leadership team, the Vice President for Finance will serve as a close advisor and partner to the team. In particular, the VPR will have the opportunity to help shape and implement the University's growth strategy, both domestically and internationally, through organic growth as well as mergers. They will be expected to model best practices, be a source of strategic insight, and have a knack for asking hard questions in a disciplined and professional way to move initiatives forward.
Promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.
In the wake of the global pandemic and the movement for racial justice, University leaders have led Northeastern's initiatives to examine the University's role as an inclusive, accessible, and thought-provoking leader in the evolving higher education landscape. The Vice President for Finance will champion Northeastern's goal to achieve achieving greater gender, racial, and ethnic diversity.
PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS AND PERSONAL QUALITIES
Northeastern University has a bold vision and an aggressive plan for the institution's future. The senior officers of the University embody and cultivate a culture of innovation and rigorous engagement focused on strategic and operational excellence. Successful University leaders demonstrate confidence and flexibility, enjoy creative and collaborative planning and problem-solving, and combine outstanding capability in their own domains with appetite and enthusiasm for discussing programs, initiatives, and challenges across the institution.
For this critical position, Northeastern is seeking a finance professional with demonstrated success and relevant experience with accounting, tax, treasury operations, debt, asset management, procurement, payments, internal consulting and auxiliary services at large, complex organizations. The successful candidate will have exemplary strategic leadership ability, outstanding interpersonal and communication skills, entrepreneurial spirit and high energy, and a passion for the University's unique mission. The successful candidate will be able to work effectively and collaboratively with a broad range of constituents, including other members of the senior leadership team. In addition, the successful candidate will have the following experiences, capabilities, and attributes:
Proven success across broad and decentralized environments of comparable size and complexity, and the energy and interest to work with all divisions of a research university;
Creative ability to develop fiscal policies, procedures, and programs systems in a complex environment;
Solid technical skills and knowledge in the areas of treasury operations, debt, asset management, financial reporting, taxes, and accounting;
A strong and confident listener and communicator who brings integrity, a calm presence, builds consensus, and engenders trust;
Demonstrated ability to lead strategically, with vision, energy, and passion;
Distinct appreciation for the mission, traditions, and culture of the University;
Demonstrated ability to establish credibility with all constituencies - board members, deans, faculty, staff, and students - based upon great integrity, critical thinking, outstanding operational performance, and excellent interpersonal skills and political savvy;
Demonstrated judgment of risk management as it relates to the Treasury function;
Success with and comfort in cultural change and re-engineering processes;
A persistent and persuasive approach to challenges and people, an ability to work in environments with ambiguity and uncertainty;
A manager who mentors and leads by example;
An articulate and engaging spokesperson;
A minimum of 10 years related experience. CPA certification and advanced degree is preferred.
Northeastern University has retained the national executive search firm Isaacson Miller to assist in this search. All inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications should be sent in confidence to:
Northeastern University is an equal opportunity employer, seeking to recruit and support a broadly diverse community of faculty and staff. Northeastern values and celebrates diversity in all its forms and strives to foster an inclusive culture built on respect that affirms inter-group relations and builds cohesion.
All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in worldwide experiential learning, urban engagement, and interdisciplinary research that meets global and societal needs. Our broad mix of experience-based education programs?our signature cooperative education program, as well as student research, service learning, and global learning?build the connections that enable students to transform their lives. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in nine colleges and schools.