Search for CFO underway

By Allison Krecek

To help make financial decisions, NIU is conducting a national search for its first chief financial officer.

A CFO is responsible for managing the financial risks and decisions of a corporation or university. After Doug Baker started as NIU’s president in July, he recommended hiring a CFO to the Board of Trustees.

NIU has not had a person hired as an official CFO; the vice president of administration and chief operating officer have handled the CFO responsibilities.

“The president has evaluated … the tasks to be performed as well as the talents of the people that are already on their staff, and he concluded that the amount of focus that was required on the tasks that needed to be performed needed to be done by one person,” said Marc Strauss, Board of Trustees member.

The CFO will likely not be hired until August or September. NIU has acquired the services of a search firm to find candidates for the spot. While the school searches it has the help of Nancy Suttenfield, who is acting as the interim CFO.

As interim CFO, Suttenfield will stay on until NIU has officially hired someone for the position.

“The CFO has a vital responsibility at the university,” Strauss said. “They’re responsible of what happens in the back office and what happens financially [with] a budget of over $500 million a year.”

Robert Boey, Board of Trustees member, said the vice president and COO have enough on their plates without taking on the CFO’s jobs.

“We felt that it was important to have a CFO that is defined in that position, and that person just completely spends 110 percent preparing and following up all the aspects of the financial position regarding NIU so we aren’t in trouble anymore and stay within the boundaries of our budget,” Boey said.

Boey and Strauss hope for a professional who has worked as a CFO before, preferably at a university.

“The CFO knows exactly what needs to be in the budget, how much revenue comes with each budget and in turn makes sure our expenses within each budget are met so we don’t get any surprises,” Boey said.

Michael Theodore, Student Association chief of staff and senior political science major, is also looking forward to NIU hiring a CFO.

“I’m looking for someone who’s going to be involving all … faculty, staff and students and not just the administration,” Theodore said. “And be able to not only implement a budget but also implement a budget plan and a course for what the university is spending money on and what our goals are.”