NIU gains new CFO, provost to step down


Northern Star File Photo

NIU provost Beth Ingram steps down from her role while the university’s new CFO George Middlemist arrives in January

DeKALB – NIU hired George Middlemist as its new CFO, and Beth Ingram, executive vice president and provost, announced she will be resigning in June.

NIU found its new chief financial officer in Middlemist, according to an NIU Today news release. In addition to serving as CFO for NIU, Middlemist will serve as vice president for administration and finance, making $310,000 annually, according to Middlemist’s employment contract with the university.

Middlemist will be taking over for NIU’s interim CFO James Cofer and will start at the beginning of the spring semester in January.

He is coming to NIU with 26 years of financial work under his belt at the Metropolitan State University of Denver in various roles. Middlemist has worked as MSU of Denver’s CFO since 2017, according to the news release.

Middlemist said that NIU’s mission and values are very similar to those of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s, and that these similarities are a big reason for taking the job at NIU.

“I look at the mission and values that a university has, and if they’re not closely aligned with mine, then I don’t do it. In NIU’s case, they weren’t closely aligned; they were perfectly aligned,” Middlemist said.

He said that he wants to come in and figure out how NIU can be more strategic with its budget process.

“My plan is to be very transparent with our budget process and to be very transparent with our finances,” Middlemist said.

Middlemist said that one thing he has gotten better at over the years is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of his team and how to best use those strengths and weaknesses.

“What I hope I’ve learned is how to treat people,” Middlemist said. “How to not be so myopically focused on rules and dollars that we lose sight of what is important, which is the people that we’re trying to serve – that’s students, that’s faculty and that’s staff.”

Middlemist said that people should not look at his title of CFO as a title of power.

“This is a role of servant and of leadership,” Middlemist said. “I’m here to serve the president, I’m here to serve the board, I’m here to serve students, faculty and staff.”

Ingram helped lead the search in hiring Middlemist.

“Every position on campus follows the same basic process. We have a committee for whatever the position is,” Ingram said. “We used a search firm, which we do for big national searches like this.”

She said that a big part of the process is having serious candidates come for a preliminary interview and to show them around NIU’s campus.

“What we were looking for was somebody who understands the mission, vision and values of NIU, has the experience necessary for the position, but also understands our particular culture,” Ingram said.

She said that Freeman and the committee felt Middlemist was a great fit with these visions and values.

“It was a very competitive pool, and all of the candidates we looked at were highly qualified,” Ingram said. “President Freeman is the hiring official and felt that George (Middlemist) was the best candidate to meet the needs of NIU at this point in time.”

As the university gains Middlemist, it will also lose its provost.

Once Ingram steps down, Laurie Elish-Piper will become NIU’s interim executive vice president and provost, pending approval from the Board of Trustees. Elish-Piper has served as dean of the College of Education at NIU since 2016.

Before serving as NIU’s provost and executive vice president from 2019 to 2023, Ingram taught in the Department of Economics.

“Starting in January of 2024, I will go back to the Department of Economics and start teaching whatever they need me to teach,” Ingram said.

Ingram said that she is excited to return to teaching, but will miss some things about her current roles.

“What I enjoyed most (as provost and executive vice president) was working with students and thinking about ways to help and support them,” Ingram said. “One of my happiest moments on campus is standing on the stage and watching students shake the president’s hand as graduates. Knowing that I played a part in making the dreams of those students come true has always been very important to me.”