Search for the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), a Big Ten and Carnegie R-1 comprehensive research university, seeks applications and nominations for the position of Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance (VCBF). UNL is the flagship, land-grant campus of the University of Nebraska (NU) system. The Vice Chancellor reports to the Chancellor, is the senior business officer of UNL, serves on the Chancellor’s Executive Leadership Team, and is a member of the Chancellor’s extended cabinet. The successful candidate will be expected to provide dynamic leadership in further developing and strengthening the University's business, fiscal, and management systems, and to provide visionary leadership to campus operations and resource management.

The Position of
Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance

The Vice Chancellor, Business & Finance reports to the Chancellor and is the senior business officer of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The Vice Chancellor is responsible for oversight and administration of campus budget, financial, and administrative services supporting the University’s $1.2 billion operating budget in conformity with University of Nebraska Board of Regents policy and state and federal laws. The VCBF is also responsible for operational activities related to the University's physical facilities and grounds, UNL sites throughout the state of Nebraska, University Police, Parking and Transit Services, Human Resources, and other business services. The VCBF pursues operational excellence in their area of direct responsibility while also fostering and supporting operational innovation and efficiency in decentralized academic and administrative units.

The new VCBF joins NU’s Lincoln campus at an exciting moment, with initiatives under way that new leadership and capacity will shape and further advance.

UNL is pursuing an aggressive agenda to be unparalleled among public research universities in access, opportunity, innovation, and life-long experiential learning. Specific goals of this agenda include increasing enrollment, significantly growing research expenditures, enhancing student retention and graduation rates, increasing the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty, and increasing the number of faculty receiving national recognition and awards for their research and creative activity. The new Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance will play a pivotal role in supporting these goals, working with the Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, and the Executive Leadership Team in making strategic decisions about resources to achieve the goals.

The University of Nebraska Foundation completed a capital campaign in 2015 that raised over $1.8 billion. Priorities for these funds included scholarship support for undergraduates, study abroad scholarships and graduate fellowships; support for endowed professorships, research professorships and chairs; support for targeted and identified academic and research programs; and support for campus facilities and infrastructure. The Foundation has an endowment ranked in the top 25 among public universities.

To help support the execution of UNL’s strategic plan, the Chancellor initiated the transition from an incremental budget model to the new Incentive-Based Budget that will better align resources with strategic priorities and guide investment in areas of growth. The transition to the new budget model is in progress, and the new VCBF will work with the Chancellor and the Executive Leadership Team to complete its implementation and ensure that the University’s budget is aligned with the vision and strategic priorities identified going forward.

The University’s Innovation Campus, a dedicated public-private research campus, continues to attract new partnerships and tenants. The initial phase of this development was completed in 2014 with the opening of a state-of-the-art conference center and companion building. In July 2015 the Food Innovation Center and Greenhouse Innovation Center were completed and occupied. Since then, the Campus has grown to 455,000 feet of constructed space that houses nearly 60 private- and public-sector tenants and features a new hotel, additional wet- and dry-lab facilities, a conference center, and spaces designed to bring researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors together. The Campus’ economic impact is already measurable and will increase with further investment. The VCBF serves as treasurer of the Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corporation, an independent non-profit corporation, and is responsible for the financial oversight of both the corporate and university interests in this development.

There have been numerous initiatives in the business and finance division over the past decade to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance university services. Business & Finance has implemented best practices in several functional areas and has embraced entrepreneurial approaches to service delivery and cost savings/enhancements. The new VCBF will continue such efforts in order to ensure that the University continues to deploy its resources for their highest possible use.

The University of Nebraska has integrated several administrative functions, such as procurement and accounts payable, capital-project planning and delivery, into System-wide organizations serving all four NU campuses that is managed in the NU central administration, which is also located in Lincoln. The VCBF and their team engage System-office resources as partners and service providers.

The Vice Chancellor works closely with the Vice Chancellors for Business of the other three campuses of the University of Nebraska system as well as with the Senior Vice President for Business and Finance & CFO at the University's Central Administration office. Together, this group forms the nucleus of the NU system’s business operations.

The Business & Finance organization includes the following departments:

  • Accounting
  • Bursar’s Office
  • Campus Planning
  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Facilities Management
  • Financial Services
  • Human Resources
  • Inventory
  • Landscape Services
  • NCard
  • Parking and Transit Services
  • Passport Services
  • Payroll
  • Print, Copy, Mail, and Distribution Services
  • Shared Computing Services
  • Space Management
  • Student Accounts
  • Sustainability
  • Transportation Services
  • University Police
  • University Services
  • Utilities Operations
  • Vending Services

Business & Finance has approximately 600 employees and an annual operating budget of $107 million.

In addition to their leadership of the Business & Finance organization, the VCBF staffs or is a member of several standing committees and serves as an officer or member of numerous related boards. The VCBF participates in long-range institutional planning and supports the development and stewardship of external partnerships related to real estate and facilities development and business services.

Candidate Profile, Competencies, and Qualifications

The VCBF will be an accomplished professional of the highest integrity who embraces positive change and a team approach and who works with colleagues in a spirit of partnership, transparency, and fiscal responsibility to facilitate the advancement of the University. The successful candidate will be a collaborative, innovative, entrepreneurial leader with substantial budget and operations expertise and significant managerial experience. He or she will also understand and respect shared governance and will promote an environment that encourages teamwork, student success, inclusive decision-making, and a sense of community. Experience creating or overseeing the creation of a high-performing HR function is particularly welcome.

In UNL’s collegial environment, the VCBF will be a trusted partner to administrative and academic leaders across campus and at NU’s other campuses, with a clear commitment to the academic mission and the institutional good. They will seek and sustain robust engagement with faculty, staff, and student organizations within the campus’s governance framework.

Key Attributes of the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance

While each candidate will have a unique combination of skills and experiences, and no single candidate may bring strength in all areas, the ideal candidate for the VCBF position will demonstrate many of the following professional qualifications and personal characteristics:

  • Successful management of a large, highly complex organization, including responsibility for multiple functions related to finance and administration
  • Proven experience relative to strategic business planning, including operating and capital budget development, to advance organizational mission
  • Demonstrated experience related to re-engineering, continuous business improvements and the implementation of "best practices" to improve operational functioning, reduce costs, and increase stakeholder satisfaction; a track record of change management that shows the ability to develop new competencies and business processes at an organizational level
  • Effective listening and negotiating skills and the ability to find sustainable outcomes that are acceptable to a wide array of constituents
  • Positive external relations/constituency management skill related to financial and administrative operations, ideally including working with broad constituencies that may include legislators, state and local government leaders, and business and civic communities
  • A track record of advancing initiatives in diversity, equity, and inclusion that have produced measurable results

In addition to these career experiences, it will be important that candidates exhibit particular skills and competencies that they will bring to the position. These include, but may not be limited to:

  • Leadership – creates a climate of collaboration, engagement, and alignment
  • Strategic thinking – able to conceptualize big picture, interpret the vision for others, maintain a broad, long-term perspective, and provide strategic guidance on how best to use institutional resources to achieve institutional objectives
  • Participatory management skills – respects input from others, builds effective teams, and respects process; draws information from others
  • Human relations abilities – builds relationships, values inclusiveness, develops people; exhibits equal treatment at all levels; is equally effective as a team player and as a team-builder
  • Communication ability – articulate, clear, and candid; encourages free exchange of information; presents ideas in a way that achieves clarity, buy-in, and commitment
  • Entrepreneurial/innovative abilities – thinks about problem-solving in new ways; encourages innovation throughout the organization; challenges existing bias
  • Political acumen – able to read and work effectively within a variety of diverse political environments, both internally and externally, with the ability to be equally effective working up, down, and across the organization
  • Constituency management abilities – able to deal effectively with broad, diverse constituents, often those with competing interests
  • Unquestionable integrity combined with energy and intelligence

A Master’s degree in a related field is required. A terminal degree is desirable, as is higher education experience.

The University

Chartered in 1869, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is an educational institution of international stature. UNL is listed by the Carnegie Foundation within the “Research Universities (very high research activity)” category. UNL is a land-grant university and a member of the Association of Public and Land- grant Universities (APLU). The University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. UNL celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2019. It is part of a four-university system coordinated through a central administrative office led by a president and governed by an elected Board of Regents.

UNL has been home to many legendary figures, including the literary naturalist Loren Eiseley, geneticist George Beadle, artists Aaron Douglas and Weldon Kees, social researcher Alvin Johnson, investor Warren Buffett, comedian Johnny Carson, diva Barbara Hendricks, artist and engineer Harold Edgerton, soldier John J. Pershing, authors Willa Cather and Mari Sandoz, and many others. Today, students are building on this legacy through their research involvement in fields as diverse as sociology, geosciences, virology, and agricultural sciences.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is located in a vibrant city of 300,000 that has many of the cultural and entertainment benefits of a much larger city while retaining the feel of a friendly Midwestern community. Lincoln is the state capital, and most Nebraska state agencies and offices are located there, as are several United States Government agencies. Dominant industries are education, government, health care, banking and insurance, and rail and truck transport. Lincoln also has a growing technology sector and was recently featured in national news as the “Silicon Prairie.” Agriculture and manufacturing are also key employers. The state government and the University of Nebraska are both large contributors to the local economy and constitute approximately a quarter of the city's economy. Lincoln has been rated the #1 Healthiest City by Daily Finance, Happiest City by Gallup, #1 Best Places to Find a Job, #4 Best Places for Business and Careers by Forbes, #4 Best Run City in the Nation by MSN, Top 10 Cities to Buy a Home by ABC News, #4 Best Place to Raise a Family by Gallup, and one of the Cleanest U.S. Cities by American Lung Association.

UNL Campus in spring

UNL Leadership

Dr. Ronnie D. Green became the University’s 20th Chancellor in 2016 and has articulated a vision to build on past successes to further elevate the institution to even greater national stature. The new VCBF will have the opportunity to provide support and additional insight and leadership that will enable UNL to continue to pursue these opportunities. Distinctive resources and measures of ongoing success include:

  • The University has approximately doubled its research expenditures over the past two decades and has been recognized nationally as one of the fastest growing public research universities
  • Approximately $1.3 billion has been invested over the last 10 years in academic facilities, including new construction and renovations as well as the University’s Innovation Campus
  • University of Nebraska–Lincoln enjoys strong public support from the citizens of the state. Nebraskans value higher education and recognize that education is the key to a strong workforce and a vibrant economy. Nebraskans have high regard for the state’s only land grant university and are vested in its success as an institution of higher learning
  • Nebraska Athletics drives loyalty and reputation for the University. Nebraska athletes have earned more Academic All-American awards and NCAA Top 10 Awards, which recognize student-athletes for their success on the field, in the classroom and in the community, than any other Division I institution. Nebraska Athletics is completely self-supporting and annually generates significant revenue that is directed to the University’s academic programs

Lincoln, Nebraska

UNL is located in a vibrant and safe city of nearly 300,000 people that has many of the cultural and entertainment benefits of a much larger city, with the feel of a friendly Midwestern community. Lincoln is the state capital, and most Nebraska state agencies and offices are located here, as are several United States government agencies.

Dominant industries are education, government, health care, banking and insurance, and rail and truck transport. Lincoln also has a growing technology sector and was recently featured in national news as the “Silicon Prairie.” Agriculture and manufacturing are also key employers. The state government and the University of Nebraska are both large contributors to the local economy and constitute approximately a quarter of the city's economy. Lincoln’s unemployment rate is 2.9 percent.

Lincoln boasts a highly educated workforce that is attractive to business expansion and new business development. The median age in Lincoln is 32.8. The West Haymarket project, which has developed since 2014 has spurred rapid growth associated with several large organizations, including Hudl, a technology firm started by graduates of UNL’s Jeffrey S. Raikes School, and Olsson, an engineering and architecture firm. The university’s partnership with the city and private groups in redeveloping a former railyard into a sports and concert arena has sparked renewed interest in housing, retail, and other activities within walking distance of the city campus.

With the most parkland per capita in the nation, an extensive (and growing) bike trail network, many diverse employment opportunities, and a low cost of living, Lincoln is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the Midwest, yet still boasts an easy average commute time of 18 minutes door to door. The median home value in Lincoln is $182,800. Lincoln home values have risen 7% over the past year.

The airport is located 10 minutes from downtown, with a larger airport located in Omaha, 50 miles away. Lincoln lies adjacent to Interstate 80, which crosses the state.

Lincoln’s cultural offerings are robust and varied; many are associated with the University, including a professional regional symphony orchestra, the many touring artists appearing at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, jazz clubs, professional theatre, chamber music concert series, independent film, modern dance, and active church choirs. The Glenn Korff School of Music and the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film alone present more than 300 performances annually. The city boasts architecture by I.M. Pei and Bertram Goodhue, and is home to UNL’s Sheldon Museum of Art, designed by Philip Johnson and housing an extensive and world- renowned American art collection. The university's International Quilt Study Center and Museum, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, houses the largest publicly held collection of art and historic quilts in the world. Restaurants run the gamut of American and ethnic cuisine, there are many small independent coffee houses and farmers’ markets.

The Lincoln Public Schools are among the best in the nation and include several high school focus programs in arts and humanities, business, technology, and science. A science-focused school also operates at Lincoln’s Children’s Zoo. The district has opened a dedicated Career Academy to offer students experiences in trades and occupations. Lincoln High School, the city’s oldest public high school, is the home to an International Baccalaureate Program, and all the high schools offer advanced placement courses. Lincoln also hosts several parochial school systems.

In addition to UNL, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Union College, and Southeast Community College offer higher education opportunities in the city.

Learn more on the About Lincoln website.

Application and Nomination Process

The University of Nebraska has engaged Opus Partners to assist this search. Craig Smith, Partner, and Marisea Rivera, Senior Associate, are leading the search. To seek additional information, apply, or nominate qualified candidates, please email Marisea Rivera (Marisea.rivera@opuspartners.net). Review of applications begins July 31, 2022. An application should include a CV and cover letter. Letters should highlight relevant experience and explain interest and motivation. The University of Nebraska values diversity, equity, and inclusion and will seek a leader who is committed to promoting these values as Vice Chancellor. The University encourages candidates to describe initiatives and accomplishments they have led or participated in that have lowered barriers and increased participation by historically under- represented groups and to address how they might advance diversity, equity, and inclusion as the Vice Chancellor for Business & Finance.

As an EO/AA employer, qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and/or political affiliation.

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