Search group for a chief financial officer is announced

By Olivia Montes
News Co-Editor

Washington College officially announced their intentions to search for and fill the position of chief financial officer for the remainder of the 2021-22 academic year. 

 According to Chief of Staff to the President of the College Vic Sensenig, the search committee, made up of seven members ranging in student, faculty, and staff representation, along with three representatives from the search firm Keifer — which also helped facilitate the presidential search during the 2020-21 academic year — will begin the process of selecting and interviewing applicants for the position. 

As President of the College Dr. Mike Sosulski said,“if everything goes according to plan, then [the campus] will be welcoming a new chief financial officer in the beginning of the spring semester.”

“[Working with Keifer] really helps with the process, because they have kind of pre-vetted a lot of candidates, and will be able to introduce us to the search community candidates that are likely to want to do this,” Dr. Sosulski said. 

The CFO — referred to as the vice president for finance and administration — is responsible for providing “operational and strategic leadership for the College’s financial and physical resources,” according to Sensenig. Alongside managing the College’s approximately $60 million budget, these responsibilities include paying bills and collecting revenue; providing additional insight to endowment management; and overseeing other on-campus resources and services, including the bookstore, Central Services, and Dining Services. 

In addition to a bachelor’s and an advanced professional degree, Sensenig said that members of the search committee will be looking for applicants who not only have an understanding of “financial modeling, physical plant maintenance, and construction and property management,” but also possess a strong sense of authority and transparency.

“Given that this person is overseeing a large team…in several different areas, there has to be supervisory or leadership skills,” Sensenig said. “This person [also] needs to be able to take complex and complicated ideas and boil them down in a way that makes sense to people.” 

“You need somebody who’s going to motivate people [and] will be responsive to people’s needs, [and] you need somebody who’s willing to listen to ideas,” he said. “We have particular challenges right now in higher education…[and] so you have to have somebody who’s going to be creative with the solutions.” 

As both Dr. Sosulski and Sensenig say, because the College is currently experiencing a “structural deficit,” in which the institution’s total expense amount is greater than that of total revenue, and was forced to take significant cuts across campus departments and services, the need to fill the position is urgent. 

According to Sensenig, while finding a permanent vice president for finance and administration does not immediately solve the College’s financial situation, it will add further significance behind preserving the “premium liberal arts education” WC is known for. 

While finding those efficiencies and reestablishing that balance may take years even with a new CFO, Sensenig feels confident that, with Dr. Sosulski at the helm, this goal will be accomplished. 

“That’s the main challenge — the highest priority for this person [in this position] is to ensure that any way that we respond to that challenge does not compromise our mission,” Sensenig said. “We have a tremendously high value for the academic, co-curricular, and residential experiences that students get here, [but] it’s expensive to offer.”

“[But] with this new visionary…we could just jump right in to talking about our needs from this next search,” he said.

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