Associate Vice President for Finance / Controller

Oberlin, OH

Posted: 6/28/21
Deadline: 8/30/21

About This Organization

Oberlin College, an independent co-educational institution, holds a distinguished place among American colleges and universities. Founded in 1833, it was the first college in America to make interracial education and co-education central to its mission – traditions that live today within a commitment to positive social engagement. Oberlin College has earned a reputation of excellence based on the quality of its richly diverse student body, outstanding faculty, excellent facilities, and academic and technological resources, academic and musical excellence, and its commitment to social engagement and diversity. Oberlin serves almost 3,000 students, 1,000 employees and maintains an endowment of $890M. In 2017, Carmen Twillie Ambar became Oberlin’s 15th, and first African American, President in its 184-year history. The 440-acre campus includes 45 academic buildings, 26 residential buildings, and 118 student village houses, and faculty/staff rentals.

Oberlin is the 36th ranked Liberal Arts College in the U.S. and uniquely combines an outstanding professional school of music with a leading undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the U.S., provides flexible programs to prepare students as professional musicians and teachers of music. Deeply committed to academic excellence, the College of Arts and Sciences offers a rich and balanced curriculum in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences. Within that framework, the College expects that students will work closely with the faculty to design an educational program appropriate to their own particular interests, needs, and long-term goals.

Oberlin enjoys outstanding facilities. Situated on roughly 500 acres in Lorain County, Ohio, Oberlin’s campus includes extensive classroom and office space; one of the nation’s most extensive college library collections; one of the finest campus art collections in the country; and first-rate facilities in music, theater, the sciences, computing, and physical education. Cleveland-Hopkins Airport is less than 30 minutes away.

Mission Statement

Oberlin educates students for lives of intellectual, musical, and artistic rigor and breadth; sustained inquiry, creativity and innovation; and leadership. Oberlin aims to prepare graduates with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives essential to confront complex issues and to create change and value in the world.

Oberlin is committed to educational access and opportunity. It seeks to offer a diverse and inclusive residential learning environment encouraging a free and respectful exchange of ideas and shares an enduring commitment to a sustainable and just society.

Job Duties

Job Summary

The Associate Vice President (AVP) for Finance is a key member of the Finance & Administration team responsible to lead, direct, monitor, and provide strategic partnership for all finance functions in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, federal and state regulations, college policies and guidelines, and leading business practices. The AVP works strategically and collaboratively to enhance and plan for the College’s financial strength through analysis, innovative ideas, cost-effective approaches, high quality budgeting and monitoring, accurate accounting and tax compliance, and useful reporting for decision-making and benchmarking. The AVP ensures a strong system of institutional internal controls through clear policies and procedures. The AVP works closely with the Vice President for Finance & Administration with long-term planning and daily administration of institutional finances and on strategic matters, including support for the Board of Trustees.

The AVP provides administrative leadership and oversight of all finance-related functions, including accounting, budget planning and analysis, debt management, accounts payable, accounts receivable, accounting information systems, internal and external financial reporting, internal controls, cash management, audit management, tax reporting and certain procurement functions. The AVP leads a 13-member finance team in the development, oversight and reporting of the College’s $162 million operating budget and net assets of $1.4 billion.

The AVP is also responsible for key cross-functional collaborations that support financially sound college policies, planning, and practices to include members of the President’s leadership team, Human Resources, the Center for Information Technology, Facilities Management & Planning, the Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid, Institutional Research, and the Offices of the Dean of Arts & Sciences and the Conservatory. The AVP maintains effective communication and relationships with the auditors, bankers, and other financial providers. Areas under supervision include accounts payable, general accounting, grant and contract accounting, student loan accounting, and endowment accounting.

Examples of Duties / Essential Functions

Board of Trustees Support
• In collaboration with the Vice President for Finance & Administration (VPFA), provide support to the Board of Trustees, including the Budget & Finance Committee, Audit Committee, Investment Committee (in collaboration with the Chief Investment Officer), the Debt Finance Sub-committee and the Capital Planning Committee (in collaboration with the Chief Facilities Officer).
• Assist with the development of committee planning calendars, meeting agendas and materials.
• Coordinate the periodic review of, and recommend modifications to, board-approved financial policies.
• Prepare and present materials to the Board of Trustees, and at the direction of the VPFA, effectively communicate and present critical financial matters.

Subsidiary Entities Support
• Collaborate with the VPFA to provide support for subsidiary entities, including the College Properties of Northern Ohio, andCollege Properties of Ohio.
• Provide support and leadership for the financial activities of subsidiary organizations, including the audit process and compliance reporting.

Leadership, Management & Supervision
• Provide supervision, leadership, and mentoring to staff.
• Evaluate and reshape the Finance organization’s structure to take it to the next level.
• Make personnel changes including hiring and developing exceptional talent to meet the needs of the Finance organization and the College.
• Align roles and assignments of the team to meet the demands of the Finance organization and the College.
• As appropriate, develop and recommend options for the organization of the Finance functions to ensure optimal and efficient provision of services to campus constituents.
• Ensure that all Finance staff are properly trained, cross-trained, and continually developing in knowledge and skill to support financial and institutional goals.
• Ensure proper accountability to team members through goal setting, regular provision of feedback, and performance management aimed at encouraging the professional development of each team member.
• Ensure that the Finance team is properly informed and engaged to ensure they have the necessary information to effectively perform their roles.
• Build a strong, cohesive, collaborative team that is inclined to partner across departments and maintain an institutional and customer-centered perspective.
• Demonstrate and promote high standards for quality, productivity, and service.
• Continue business process analyses and implementation of enhanced service provision.

Financial Planning, Modeling & Budgeting
• Enhance and manage the College’s long-range planning model to support operating, capital planning, decision-making.
• Develop and maintain new tools to support analysis of key revenue and expenditure drivers.
• Enhance and manage college and department level budgets.
• Develop and maintain benchmarking tools and standard reports to inform decision-making and planning efforts.
• Support and collaborate with the Director of Budget & Financial Planning in the development, implementation, and monitoring of the operating budget, including the development of standard and effective guidelines, processes, reports, and tools.

Financial Reporting & Benchmarking
• Develop and manage institutional and departmental financial reporting tools.
• Develop and manage reports to monitor key financial ratios and to support scenario development.
• Develop and manage benchmarking reports to measure financial position and support the development of financial plans to improve the College’s financial health and sustainability.
• Ensure the timely development and submission of compliance reports for subsidiary entities.

Debt Management
• Provide support and monitoring of the College’s debt portfolio.
• As appropriate, develop proposals for the restructuring and / or refinancing of existing debt.
• As appropriate, coordinate the work of finance advisors, legal, and banking services as part of debt issuance and refinancing processes.
• Prepare and lead annual surveillance and rating calls with Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s rating agencies.

Accounting & Internal Controls
• Ensure appropriate policies, procedures, and internal controls are in place and communicated in a user-friendly manner to the campus community.
• Provide leadership to staff in researching and applying accounting rules.
• Provide leadership to staff to develop and manage efficient processes.
• Ensure the accuracy of all accounting records and compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and college policy, including accounting for endowment, short-term investments, construction and fixed assets, government and private grants, contributions, leases, debt, and related instruments.
• Support timely month-end and fiscal year-end close processes and the development of quarterly financial statements.
• Support timely reconciliation of all asset and liability accounts.
• Support the routine monitoring and analysis of designated and restricted expendable net asset balances.
• Support and guide the Finance team to ensure accurate and timely vendor payments, expense reimbursements, student refunds, and other disbursements with helpful and friendly service to campus constituents.
• Ensure that the necessary internal controls and segregation of duties are in place with respect to the accuracy of payroll processing in the Department of Human Resources and postings to the financial records.
• Ensure that the Finance team takes initiative to provide internal control review, review of accounting entries and postings, tax advice and review, reconciliation review, and other collaborative support to the HR team with regards to payroll, benefits, taxation, deductions, etc.

• Promote cost-effectiveness throughout the College and continuously seek efficiencies.
• Support the Procurement team in the development and execution of a unified and seamless solution for campus members, with appropriate internal controls in place.
• In partnership with the Chief Facilities Officer, consider the most effective organizational structure and alignment of services currently supervised by Facilities Management & Planning to ensure a strategic procurement function for the College.
• Partner with campus constituents to identify ways to reduce expenses, including the overall cost of procurement for the College. Capture and communicate savings and benefits.

• Maintain banking relationships and oversee bank services and transactions.
• Support the Finance team in the operation of the P-card system.
• Monitor and oversee investment of pooled cash not managed by the Investment Office.
• Ensure timely debt service payments and submission of required compliance reports.
• Work collaboratively with the Chief Investment Officer to ensure accuracy of transactions and reporting.

Business Process Improvement & Technology
• Continuously gain knowledge regarding best and emerging practices, while optimizing the standard tools for finance organizations.
• Support and guide the Finance team to:
o Routinely review and assess business practices, including acquisition and use of feedback from constituents.
o Ensure a sound system of internal and business controls for financial and business processes.
o Optimize use of technology and results.
o Identify workflow, policy, service, and technology enhancements.
o Manage and coordinate implementation of new and effective functionality using technology.
o Oversee technology upgrades and changes.
o Ensure compliance with security policies and procedures.

Required Qualifications

Minimum Qualifications

The successful candidate will have:
• At least 10 years of progressive responsibility, experience, and success in higher education or a similarly complex organization in a finance-related role.
• At least 5 years in a substantive management role in a finance-related organization.
• Bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, finance or related field.
• Demonstrated experience with the effective optimization of technology, analytical tools, and reporting.
• Proficiency with financial database management systems and reporting tools, including ERP systems.
• Demonstrated competence in development of financial and budget planning models and benchmarking tools.
• Proficiency with Microsoft Office suite.
• Strong written and oral communication skills.
• Demonstrated analytical skills and the ability to synthesize complex data for a variety of audiences.

Desired Qualifications

• Master’s degree in business administration, public administration, or other relevant field of study.
• Certified Public Accountant licensure strongly preferred (active or inactive).
• Prior experience in private higher education strongly preferred.
• Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification or related certification or related experience.
• LEAN Six Sigma or other business process certification or related experience.
• Experience with Banner ERP preferred.

Core Competencies

• A record of integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness.
• High sense of responsibility and ownership for role and function of department work.
• Skill in managing, monitoring, and measuring work performance and progress towards goals.
• Ability to manage and simplify complexity.
• Demonstrated experience as a life-long learner.
• Skill as a strong listener with strong communication ability.
• A flexible and agile professional who exercises sound judgement.
• Proven business and planning acumen with in-depth knowledge of best practices.
• Analytical with a results-orientation.
• Demonstrated managerial courage.
• A leadership style that demonstrates effective team building.
• A professional approach that reflects humility. Responsible and accountable professional with strong skill in project management.
• Ability to leverage the principals of Organizational Design.
• Demonstrated collaborative approach to work with creative problem-solving skill.
• Approaches work with a sense of urgency and ability to proactively “stay ahead of the calendar” as per initiatives, goals, and challenges.
• Ability to drive processes and procedures with a successful track record of developing data metrics and reports that are reliable.
• Strategically formulate process-driven recommendations to ensure long-term financial viability.
• Commitment to excellence and ensuring an evolving, energetic, and forward-thinking department.
• Ability to present to and interact with senior leadership and board and committee members and communicate effectively verbally and through written and electronic correspondence.
• Act as a thought leader who is skilled with strategic planning.
• Comfortable delegating responsibilities.
• Open to new perspectives and better ways to do things and act as a creative visionary who is action oriented.
• Strong desire to take on additional responsibilities and continue to grow within the organization.
• Understanding of, sensitivity to, and respect for the diverse academic, socio-economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds, disability, and sexual orientation of institutional students, faculty, staff, alumni, and stakeholders.

Other Info

Diversity Statement

Oberlin College is committed to the creation and nurturing of a diverse community of individuals through inclusive excellence. Diversity involves recognizing the value of differences and the inclusion of all members of the community including those that experience discrimination or under representation. This is a core value of the organization as we strive for a culturally diverse student body, faculty, and staff that reflect the multicultural nature of the nation and our world and bring unique strengths and abilities, which contribute, to our institution.

Helpful Links

• Oberlin College:
• Oberlin College Human Resources:
• One Oberlin:
• One Oberlin Report:
• Oberlin Webinars:
• Oberlin COVID Health & Safety:
• City of Oberlin:
• Visit Cleveland:

About the Search

Oberlin College is conducting a national search with the assistance of Helbling & Associates (, an executive search firm specializing in areas of facilities management, construction, engineering, and real estate development.
Please Submit Applications or Nominations to
Helbling & Associates, Inc.
8000 Brooktree Road, Suite 100
Wexford, PA 15090

Marc K. Datz, Regional Manager, Midwest
O: (724) 935-7500 x110
C: (412) 337-3151

Matthew D. Lesher, Senior Managing Consultant
O: (724) 935-7500 x114
C: (412) 508-6933

Please visit Helbling & Associates’ Candidates Page for more information.

Oberlin College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to creating an institutional environment free from discrimination and harassment based on race, color, sex, marital status, religion, creed, national origin, disability, age, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, family relationship to an employee of Oberlin College, and gender identity and expression.