Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (University of Michigan) Records
 


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Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (University of Michigan) records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (University of Michigan) record group collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

Researchers may also be interested in the Business and Finance (University of Michigan) Web Archives.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services.

Abstract:
Central administrative office responsible for financial management of the University of Michigan and fiscal policy with oversight for the general fund and trust budget. Unit has undergone several name changes: Vice President in Charge of Business and Finance (1935-1966); Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (1966-1993); Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (1993- ). Includes administrative records reflecting oversight of the university's financial assets, preparation of annual budgets, fiscal policy, investments and expenditures, and various financial issues. Documentation includes topical files, university budgets, and trust fund records. Includes files of office holders Shirley Wheeler Smith, Robert P. Briggs, Wilbur K. Pierpont, James Brinkerhoff, and Farris Womack, Chandler Matthews, Robert Kasdin, and Timothy Slottow.

History:
Along with the president and provost, the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer shares responsibility for the general management of the University of Michigan by providing leadership for strategic initiatives and policy development. The Board of Regents has delegated to the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer broad authority to manage financial affairs. With a 2002/2003 budget of over $3.6 billion, the University of Michigan is not only an academic institution but also a major public corporation. This was not always the case.

Throughout most of the nineteenth century, business operations at the University of Michigan involved rather simple bookkeeping procedures. Expenses consisted of salaries for professors and the costs of books for the library and janitorial services. A university secretary and a treasurer handled most of these financial matters. At the turn of the century, as the physical plant increased in size and as university functions expanded with the addition of many new units, the need for more sophisticated and centralized control of university finances became obvious.

In 1908, Shirley Wheeler Smith was appointed Secretary of the university. Smith gradually extended centralized control over financial operations. In 1910, a new position of superintendent of buildings and grounds was established. A full-time purchasing agent was appointed in 1911. Both of these offices reported to Smith. In 1935, Smith's broad ranging responsibilities were recognized by the Regents when he was given the title of "Vice President in Charge of Business and Finance."

By 1940, Smith supervised 75 persons and his office was responsible for all financial management of the university. Smith reported directly to the president and the Board of Regents. Responsibilities included accounting, purchasing, investments, cash management, buildings and grounds, and services such as printing, stores, housing, and utilities.

In 1945, Shirley Smith retired and was replaced by Robert P. Briggs. In that same year, the position of secretary was made a separate one and, eventually, was relocated to the president's office. After 1945, the vice president's office experienced constant reorganization. Caused by the ever-expanding volume of university business, the reorganizations were intended to draw clear lines of administrative responsibility. In 1945, the Offices of Plant Superintendent and Non-academic Personnel were created. Also in 1945, several operating units were established as self-sustaining units such as the departments of printing, binding, and laundry. In 1947, the first full-time university attorney was named.

In 1951, Robert Briggs resigned and was succeeded by Wilbur K. Pierpont. Pierpont had previously been Professor of Accounting at the University of Michigan and the University Controller. During the 1950s, the continued rapid expansion of the university led to a continuing series of organizational and staff changes to respond to these new and larger responsibilities of the business and financial staff. The whirlwind of change begun under the Briggs administration continued unabated under Pierpont. The Controller's Office and the Purchasing Department underwent major restructuring. A new parking operations unit was established in 1955 and an internal audit unit was created which would be renamed University Audits in 1966.

By 1955, the North Campus development as well as other campus extensions in Ann Arbor led to the creation of the post of Assistant to the Vice President for Business and Finance. This position was first held by John McKevitt. Another assistantship, with responsibilities for general and budget services, was added in 1967 and was filled by Harlan J. Mulder, who served until 1987. When McKevitt left in 1969 his position was not filled until William Sturgis was appointed assistant in 1974. Sturgis had worked previously as an administrative assistant at the Law School and as a financial analyst in the Office of the Vice President. Sturgis was Assistant to the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from 1974 until his retirement in 1991.

Between 1956 and 1958, the Flint and Dearborn campuses were started and business managers were appointed for both of these units. Other subsidiary units were created and placed under the authority of the vice president. In 1959, the Office of Staff Benefits was established and in 1961 the Office of Financial Analysis was organized. During the 1960s, the growth in university related litigation led to an increase in the university attorney's staff and to the naming of a University General Counsel in 1970. Many other offices reporting to the vice president underwent similar growth or changes in function or reporting relationship. The result was a highly complex organizational structure.

In 1976, Wilbur Pierpont resigned as vice president to return to teaching and was replaced by James F. Brinkerhoff as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. The change in the title of the office had occurred, previously, in 1966. Brinkerhoff had been Director of the Plant Extension Department and then Associate Vice President and Director of Business Operations. Through the later part of the 1970s and into the 1980s, the rapid organizational changes of the previous years slackened and the office's structure appeared more stable. Perhaps the most important challenge faced by the Brinkerhoff administration was overseeing construction of the new university hospital in the 1980s. Careful monitoring of the financial aspects of this complicated project helped to assure the successful completion of the hospital in 1985.

In 1988, James Brinkerhoff resigned and was succeeded by Farris W. Womack. Prior to coming to the University of Michigan, Womack had been Controller for the State of North Carolina and had held academic and administrative appointments at the University of North Carolina and at the University of Arkansas. Womack announced his retirement in 1996. During Womack's tenure the office was renamed as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Chandler Matthews served as interim CFO during 1997 prior to the appointment of Robert Kasdin as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Kasdin resigned in 2002 and was succeeded by Timothy Slottow.

The history of the office of the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer is a history of nearly constant reorganization and name changes for subordinate offices. Researchers who would like more detail regarding this history should consult The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey(volume I, pages 269-280 and volume VI, pages 1-108) for changes occurring up to 1975.

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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