The Opportunity

California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is an urban, comprehensive university that delivers award-winning undergraduate and graduate programs to over 38,000 students and has a current alumni body of 330,000. One of the largest and most diverse universities in the country, nearly two-thirds of CSUN’s students are first-generation students. CSUN ranks 13th in awarding bachelor’s degrees to under-represented minority students and seventh in bachelor’s degrees to Latino students, serves the 13th largest Jewish student population, and enrolls the largest number of students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing of any U.S. state university.

Originally founded in 1958 as San Fernando Valley State College, then renamed in 1972 as California State University, Northridge, the campus has seen its share of growth and development. Beginning with a 165-acre site purchased for $6,000 an acre, the campus has grown to 353 acres with 91 facilities on-site. A unique highlight of the campus landscape is the CSUN Orange Grove and Pond. The Orange Grove is actively used for research (studying bee populations and pond turtles) and is the site for stellar and solar observatories. It is also home to the CSUN Pond which features rock waterfalls, a meandering stream bed, a bridge, and shallow pools.

The Position

Role of the Associate Vice President, Financial Services for California State University, Northridge

Reporting to the vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer, the associate vice president, financial services (AVP) is responsible for the integrity of all financial systems and processes relating to business activities of the university including Accounts Payable/Travel, Student Financial Services, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Cash Services, Purchasing and Contract Administration, and Financial Systems. The AVP is responsible for providing solutions to the CSUN community including streamlined procedures for payment processing; reducing or avoiding costs through strategic sourcing and supplier management; and ensuring daily operations support the university’s mission and goals. As the principal advisor to the vice president regarding financial issues, the AVP participates in the development and review of university policies related to campus business practices; serves as liaison and resource to other campus administrators (including auxiliary organizations and enterprise operations) regarding financial and managerial accountability, compliance with applicable regulations, and consistent financial practices; and engages in a shared service partnership for administering Athletics business/budget operations. Further, the AVP participates in the System wide Financial Officers Association (FOA), assisting both FOA and the Office of the Chancellor in development of financial policies and procedures, best practices, and financial audit compliance standards.

Additional duties of the AVP include:

  • Responsible for coordination and preparation of university year-end financial statements and related audits in accordance with GAAP, GASB, and CSU policies (e.g. ICSUAM, Executive Orders, Audit Guidelines, etc.).
  • Maximize cost savings and revenue through risk assessments; improve campus engagement strategies to capitalize on consolidated opportunities.
  • Expand supplier management strategies, emphasizing achievement of sustainability and accessibility goals.
  • Lead negotiations for high dollar, complex, and non-routine contracts, to include revenue-generating contracts involving strategic corporate partnership and sponsorship opportunities; these contracts may require development of unique specifications and/or the integration of many diverse strategic financial, contractual, and risk management elements.
  • Serve as primary liaison with the Information Technology Division in the implementation of technology initiatives and system upgrades that impact the university’s ledger and PeopleSoft financial accounting system.
  • In coordination with the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, assist in preparation of the annual budget for Athletics, as well as annual financial monitoring and reporting.
  • Provide shared services infrastructure for fiscal operations, including but not limited to, travel expenses, vendor payments, and revenue tracking.
  • Effectively lead and manage a high performance Financial Services team; foster an environment of employee achievement and development.
  • Understand, support, and empower staff to embrace the broader mission and strategic plan of CSUN.
  • Establish and maintain metrics for tracking departmental performance and effect improvements where indicated.

History of the Position

The previous AVP left CSUN in early 2020 after accepting a vice president position at a sister institution. She served in the AVP role for approximately seven years, making significant changes and improvements throughout her time aimed at enhancing the services provided to the campus community and the efficacy of the department’s work. The strong team culture she created within the department is also part of her legacy. Her efforts provide a solid foundation from which a new AVP can actively build upon.

CSUN selected an individual to serve in the interim AVP role until a national search could be conducted and a new AVP named. While it has now been a year since this appointment, the interim AVP has done an excellent job at maintaining the organization and meeting the needs of the campus.

Opportunities and Challenges of the Role

The new AVP will encounter the following opportunities and challenges:

  • Financial Services has experienced a good amount of change over the past year. The new AVP should bring stability, leadership, and positive energy to the department.
  • In addition to strong technical skills, the AVP must possess the ability to build, mentor, and support a strong team.
  • The Administration and Finance Division and its leaders are collaborative and supportive of each other. The leadership team truly enjoys working with and for each other.
  • An entrepreneurial mindset will be critical to success.
  • CSUN is one institution within the California State University System of 23 institutions. The AVP needs to take advantage of this network and become a key collaborator within it as well as the Chancellor’s Office.
  • Effectively working within a unionized environment.
  • CSUN has an exciting new president with a set of priorities and initiatives. The new AVP will need to both facilitate and support these initiatives.
  • Work to enhance the student experience by evaluating processes and systems to make financial endeavors less cumbersome and student-friendly.
  • This AVP should be a good listener approaching issues from a positive perspective of how to find a solution, rather than a negative or strictly compliance stance.
  • It is important for the next AVP to truly want to be a part of the CSUN community and embrace the institution’s mission and values.

Measures of Success

At an appropriate interval after joining CSUN, the following will define initial success for the AVP.

  • The AVP will have learned the nuances of CSUN and the department through information gathering and observation.
  • The new AVP will have established a solid working relationship with the Chancellor’s Office.
  • The AVP will have taken the time to get to know the staff and understand their unique needs and frustrations.
  • An action plan for the department has been created and shared with achievable goals and timelines.
  • The new AVP is a respected member of the CSUN community.
  • Financial Services has successfully returned to campus and the AVP is actively working to build a strong, cohesive team.
  • The new AVP has developed a shared trust with the department’s managers.

Qualifications and Characteristics

The successful candidate will have a master’s degree in business, finance, accounting, or a related field and a minimum of six years of progressively responsible professional experience in managing financial functions required; with three of the six years in a managerial role. Ten years professional experience managing financial functions is preferred. In addition, all candidates must have extensive understanding of generally accepted accounting principles and auditing standards, as well as financial reporting under FASB and GASB requirements; knowledge of and experience working with a comprehensive financial database system; and capacity to establish an effective, efficient Financial Services operation within a large, complex organization. Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop and lead a collaborative team are critical to the success of this next associate vice president. Experience with Oracle/PeopleSoft preferred.

In addition to the stated qualifications and characteristics, CSUN stakeholders identified the following characteristics as important for the associate vice president, financial services (in no particular order):

  • maintain a highly innovative, strategic, visionary and entrepreneurial approach to problem solving and partnership;
  • strong supervisory skill-set—able to clearly communicate expectations, delegate effectively, and support professional development and lifelong learning;
  • customer-focused and dedicated to providing optimum service;
  • clear ability to manage policy and practice, understanding when flexibility can be used to enhance problem solving;
  • strong communicator with the ability to support a wide variety of financial services functions and to work closely with faculty and staff to support their financial-related questions and needs;
  • possess strategic change management skills coupled with strong organizational development abilities;
  • ability to embrace technology to further advance the efficacy of the department;
  • present oneself as a seasoned, dedicated professional of impeccable integrity and high ethical standards that inspires trust in others;
  • knowledge of the specific functions of Financial Services and ability to support and advocate for the staff and their needs;
  • able to think outside the box, generate innovative solutions to complex problems, set priorities to achieve objectives, and manage multiple projects concurrently;
  • demonstrate an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and the ability to support inclusive communities at CSUN;
  • possess a leadership style that is inclusive, empowering, and approachable with a keen sense of service to the entire institution;
  • expertise with complex contracts and tax regulations;
  • ability to be transparent in acknowledging issues and prioritizing solutions and resources;
  • strong interpersonal skills and the executive presence to build and cultivate influential and credible relationships across the organization;
  • expertise in current financial methodology and regulations;
  • highly collaborative—able and willing to establish credibility with all constituencies through excellent listening, communication, and relationship-building skills;
  • demonstrated ability to use data to guide business strategy and outcomes;
  • adaptable to changing circumstances and committed to regular assessment and process improvement;
  • possess an understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to the financial strategies of a publicly funded university;
  • highly energetic individual with a strong sense of self and ability to appropriately infuse humor and enthusiasm into the workplace and campus community; and
  • hold a strong understanding of best practices in higher education finance.

Overview of the office of financial services

The Office of Financial Services (FS) under the direction of the associate vice president of financial services and the vice president of administration and finance provides services to the university emphasizing sound financial management. The FS team applies relevant accounting and business practices to monitor and report financial information. The office is committed to servicing the university in support of its mission, values, and vision while assuring the proper stewardship of fiscal resources.

Financial Services consists of the functional and operational departments below.

  • Accounts Payable/Travel
  • Accounting & Reporting
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Financial Resources & Operations
  • Financial Systems
  • Financial Operations
  • GAAP & Fund Accounting
  • Purchasing & Contract Administration
  • Student Accounting Services
  • Student Financial & Tax Services
  • University Cash Services

Leadership of the Division

Colin Donahue, Vice President for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer

As the vice president for administration and finance, Colin Donahue directs a wide range of campus departments that provide essential services to students, faculty, staff, and the external community. He oversees university fiscal operations, facility construction and maintenance, police services, parking, intercollegiate athletics, human resource administration, and internal audit. He also serves as a member of the CSUN Foundation, the North Campus-University Park Development Corporation, and several other campus boards and committees.

Donahue came to CSUN in 1996 to assist in the campus reconstruction following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. He led this $400 million program, as well as the subsequent $450 million master plan development program that reshaped the campus physical environment. Prior to his appointment as the vice president for administration and finance in 2013, he served the university in several leadership positions within facilities management, most recently as associate vice president for facilities development and operations. He is active in developing policy and promoting best practices across the CSU, having served as chair of the CSU Executive Facilities Officers affinity group from 2005 to 2010.

Prior to his arrival at CSUN, Donahue spent a number of years in the design and construction industry managing a variety of major development projects. He earned a BS in Engineering Technology from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and a Master of Public Administration degree from CSUN.

Institution & Location

Institutional Overview

Since 1958, California State University, Northridge has been elevating Los Angeles and beyond. The university’s commitment to student success, inclusive excellence, and service to the community has made it a national model for institutions of higher learning. CSUN’s history began as San Fernando Valley State College in portable classrooms on former agricultural land and has evolved into the second-largest public master’s university in the nation.

As of 2020, more than 370,000 alumni serve as the economic spark for Southern California and beyond. CSUN graduates more than 11,000 students annually, who go on to lead industries as varied as technology, entertainment, business, education, the arts, health, and science. CSUN has catapulted Matador students and alumni to create social change, make new discoveries, and better our world.

Land Acknowledgement

CSUN recognizes and acknowledges the Sesevitam, the first people of this ancestral and unceded territory of Sesevenga—which is now occupied by their institution. It honors their elders, past and present, and the Sesevitam descendants, who are citizens of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. CSUN recognizes that the Sesevitam are still here, and the institution is committed to lifting up their stories, culture, and community.

Northridge, CA

Northridge is a neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles County. The community is home to California State University, Northridge, the Northridge Fashion Center, as well as LA’s historic roller skating rink: Northridge Skateland.

Originally named Zelzah by settlers in 1908, the community was renamed North Los Angeles in 1929; however, that sometimes caused confusion between North Hollywood and Los Angeles. In 1938, civic leader Carl S. Dentzel decided to rename the community as Northridge Village, which morphed into modern-day Northridge.

The Northridge area can trace its history back to the Tongva people and later to Spanish explorers. It was sold by the Mexican governor Pio Pico to Eulogio de Celis, whose heirs divided it for resale.

 

Mission

California State University, Northridge exists to enable students to realize their educational goals. The University’s first priority is to promote the welfare and intellectual progress of students. To fulfill this mission, CSUN designs programs and activities to help students develop the academic competencies, professional skills, critical and creative abilities, and ethical values of learned persons who live in a democratic society, an interdependent world, and a technological age; they seek to foster a rigorous and contemporary understanding of the liberal arts, sciences, and professional disciplines.

Values

Commitment to Teaching, Scholarship, and Active Learning.

CSUN demonstrates excellence in teaching. They honor and reward high performance in learning, teaching, scholarship, research, service, and creative activity. Because the quality of CSUN’s academic programs is central to their mission, they encourage intellectual curiosity and protect the multiple expressions of academic freedom.

Commitment to Excellence.

CSUN sets the highest standards in all of their actions and activities and supports the professional development of faculty, staff, and administrators. They assess their performance so that every area of university life will be continually improved and renewed. CSUN recognizes and rewards their efforts of greatest distinction and through them provide state and national leadership.

Respect for All People.

CSUN aspires to behave as an inclusive, cooperative community. Their behaviors, policies, and programs affirm the worth and personal dignity of every member of the university community and contribute to a campus climate of civility, collegiality, tolerance, and reasoned debate.

Alliances with the Community.

CSUN seeks partnerships with local schools, community colleges, businesses, government, and social agencies to advance the educational, intellectual, artistic, civic, cultural, and economic aspirations of their surrounding communities.

Encouragement of Innovation, Experimentation, and Creativity.

CSUN seeks to provide an environment conducive to innovation, experimentation, and creativity. They encourage all members of their community to take intellectual and creative risks and to embrace changes that will enhance the fulfillment of the university’s mission.

Vision

California State University, Northridge is inspired by the belief that its commitment to educational opportunity, inclusion, and excellence will extend the promise of America to succeeding generations. Their graduates will be the vanguard of leaders—committed to sustaining a democracy in which diverse people share in the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, proficient in applying technology to wise purposes, and dedicated to securing a humane world community and sustaining the bounty of the Earth.

As an institution of higher learning:

  • CSUN will create a community of shared values in which faculty, students, staff, administrators, and alumni will experience personal satisfaction and pride in their collective achievements;
  • CSUN will be the first choice for university applicants who seek a rigorous, collaborative teaching/learning experience in a technologically rich environment;
  • CSUN will be the leader in enhancing the educational, cultural, and economic resources of their region; and
  • CSUN will receive local and national recognition for their distinctive achievements in teaching, learning, scholarship, and service.

Leadership

Erika Beck, President

Erika D. Beck began her tenure as president of California State University, Northridge in January 2021. Prior to her appointment, she had served as president of California State University Channel Islands since 2016 and as provost and executive vice president at Nevada State College.

A strong advocate for the power of higher education to improve lives, transform the community, and promote social mobility, President Beck works to ensure the academic success of students, so that they can become leaders in their communities and excel in today’s rapidly changing economy and society. This focus includes an unwavering commitment to advancing equity, inclusion, and justice in service of a brighter and more equitable future.

She is also deeply committed to helping to advance the community and works with multiple regional, state-wide, and national organizations, including service as a board member on the Santa Barbara Zoo and an honorary board member of the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation.

A native Californian, President Beck holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego; an MA in Psychology from San Diego State University; and a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of California, San Diego where she also served as a faculty fellow. A former research associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, she has conducted research in the areas of developmental psychopathology and cognitive neuroscience. In addition to her formal education, she is actively engaged in the national dialogue regarding inclusive excellence and the use of data to improve student learning outcomes.

She was selected as a Woman of the Year by the California Women’s Caucus, one of the Top 50 Women in Business by the Pacific Coast Business Times, a Woman of Distinction in Education by the National Association of Women in Business Leaders, and as a Top Female Business Leader in Education by the Las Vegas Business Press.

A devoted mother of two young boys, President Beck enjoys running, yoga, and perpetual conversations with her children about how many more minutes until “we get there.”

Academic Programs and Faculty

CSUN is comprised of nine colleges offering 60 baccalaureate degrees, 41 master’s degrees, 28 credentials in the field of education, and various opportunities in extended learning and other special programs.

  • Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, & Communication
  • David Nazarian College of Business and Economics
  • Michael D. Eisner College of Education
  • Engineering & Computer Science
  • Health & Human Development
  • Humanities
  • Oviatt Library
  • Science & Mathematics
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • The Tseng College

CSUN employs 805 full-time faculty.

Academic Programs

CSUN’s nine colleges offer 68 baccalaureate degrees, 58 master’s degrees 2 professional doctorate degrees, 14 teaching credential programs in the field of education, and various opportunities in extended learning and other special programs, which offers something for everyone!

The Student Body

Fall 2020

Total Enrollment 38,815

For an interactive dashboard of student statistics – https://www.csun.edu/counts/all_current_students.php

Benefits Overview

  • Medical Benefit Plans
  • Dental Plans
  • Vision Plans
  • Retirement and Savings Programs
  • Disability and Life Insurance Plans
  • Tuition Reduction and Fee Waiver
  • Flexible and Voluntary Benefits
  • Employee Assistance Program

For more information: https://www.csun.edu/benefits

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Mark Hall at mah@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the CSUN website at www.csun.edu.

As an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, CSUN strives to create a community in which a diverse population can work, teach, and learn in an atmosphere of civility and respect for the rights of each individual. We consider qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, genetic information, medical information, marital status, or veteran status.