The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Pitt-Bradford) invites applications, nominations, and expressions of interest for the vice president for business affairs.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the president and serving as a vital member of the cabinet, the vice president for business affairs serves as the university’s chief business and administrative officer, supporting the learning mission of the institution by providing vision and leadership for the following departments: accounting, purchasing, and accounts payable; auxiliaries & conference services; computing, telecommunications & media services; human resources; and facilities management. Collaboratively working with other senior-level officers, the vice president is responsible for the comprehensive fiscal accountability of the university and for establishing a budget-development process based on effective and responsive communication that supports the university’s mission and vision. In support of the students, faculty, and staff at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Pitt-Bradford), the vice president develops and maintains collaborative partnerships with faculty, staff, administration, and the surrounding community; manages the daily operations and strategic planning initiatives emanating from the business affairs units; and ensures policy compliance and implementation. Additionally, the vice president is responsible for non-credit programming, housing, dining services, and vending operations; administers bid preparation, RFP development, evaluation of proposals, and awarding of contracts; oversees the campus technology plan, inventory, and replacement cycle; and participates in the planning and policy development for the university, including the campus master plan, and overall strategic and long-range planning for capital projects and renovations and repairs.
The vice president directs and supervises a team of approximately 40 professionals, including six direct reports, and manages a $13.6 million operating budget.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
A bachelor’s degree (master’s preferred) in a related field and ten or more years of progressively responsible, significantly successful administrative experience in managing a complex organization, preferably in a public university setting, are required. Excellent leadership skills, a solid financial planning and fiscal operations background, outstanding communication skills, and the ability to develop and sustain effective working relationships with internal and external constituencies are also required. The successful candidate must possess demonstrated extensive experience in budget development and management, government and business accounting, and financial strategic planning; proven high standards of personal and professional integrity; and robust experience in risk management, contracts, procurement, the use of technology in administrative systems applications, and the development of business and community partnerships.
In addition to the minimum academic and experiential requirements indicated above, other desired characteristics, skills, actions, and abilities noted from discussions with campus stakeholders include:
- A solid fiscal, budgetary, and management background, including substantial financial forecasting and resource allocation skills
- Strong and inspirational leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and a strategic vision, with the ability to build coalitions and push an agenda forward
- Excellent communication skills, able to reach each level of the university community, especially in communicating the fiscal and budgetary policies and procedures in ways that all can understand
- A commitment to develop, promote, and support the business affairs team, providing ample professional development, fostering positive work/life priorities in themselves and the staff, and effectively motivating and managing the needs of an evolving workforce
- The ability to build collaborative partnerships throughout the Pitt-Bradford campus and the surrounding community and develop strong working relationships mutually benefitting both
- A creative and entrepreneurial problem-solver and change agent who can develop new programs to meet 21st-century challenges and diligently seek additional external revenue sources
- An outstanding work ethic, with energy and passion for the job and the institution
- The ability to make complex decisions when necessary, conduct difficult conversations when pertinent, listen to all sides of an issue, build consensus, and remain “cool under pressure” no matter the situation
- A commitment to promote and support the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion at all times, as well as an interest in the specific needs of traditionally underserved student populations
- A strategic and data-informed decision-maker with solid assessment skills who is also able to collect and analyze data and think fast when necessary
- The ability to listen carefully and actively, ask knowledgeable questions, and learn the division’s and institution’s operations and culture
- The ability to review major processes, policies, and procedures to look for efficiencies and opportunities to combine, collaborate, share, develop, or discard antiquated functions and practices
- Organizational development skills, with the ability to determine strengths and effectively delegate human resources
- Experience with long-term master planning and project management and an understanding of campus planning and property management
- Knowledge of current and trending risk management practices and policies
- An understanding of the importance of technology in the operation of the modern university, with a focus on information and cyber security
- Previous work with a foundation and an understanding of fundraising, with the ability to speak the unique language of donors
- A willingness to serve as the “face” of business affairs and consistently advocate for the needs of the staff and departments
- The ability to process and manage information, multi-task, and follow up systematically
- Approachability, relatability, patience, adaptability, authenticity, and transparency
- An understanding of the University of Pittsburgh’s brand name and the access to resources that this relationship allows
- Diplomacy and political savviness in interactions with the institution, community partners, and local government
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
There has been minimal turnover in the vice president for business affairs position at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in the last three decades. The position is currently vacant—and has been for two years—only because the former vice president, Rick Esch, was asked to serve as interim campus president for a year and was named as the permanent president in July 2022. Before being named campus president, Esch was a longtime leader in business affairs. Beginning his career in 1995 as director of auxiliary services, he was named chief business and administrative officer four years later. He was promoted to vice president for business affairs in 2003, assuming the position vacated by Stan Heckathorn, who served in increasingly responsible positions at Pitt-Bradford for over 30 years.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
The new vice president for business affairs must possess a broad understanding of fiduciary practice and theory, demonstrate experience in budgetary planning and forecasting, and have extensive proficiency in one or more areas in the portfolio. The vice president should be a dynamic and respected leader who has had success building and advancing a progressive program at another institution or organization, is capable of managing multiple priorities and departments, and is equipped to contribute at both a strategic and operational level to the vibrant, student-centered environment at Pitt-Bradford.
It is essential to identify a competent and visionary individual who can promote and develop the staff in each of the business affairs departments, set and implement strategic fiduciary and budgetary priorities, implement best practices throughout the organization, and work in tandem with the president, cabinet, other members of the staff and administration, and the business affairs staff to move the program forward progressively, innovatively, and comprehensively.
The following were identified as additional opportunities and challenges facing the vice president upon arrival.
- The role of the vice president for business affairs is a cabinet-level responsibility. It is considered an executive-level leadership role within the overall Pitt-Bradford administration, not solely a leader for the business affairs division. Working with other cabinet members, the vice president will advise President Esch on the growth, development, and administration of the university’s fiscal health. Pitt-Bradford is a part of the University of Pittsburgh system. Consequently, it will be crucial to maintain strong ties to the main campus and effectively navigate the system protocols, but also ensure that decisions are consistently made in the best interest of Pitt-Bradford. Within a short time after their arrival, the vice president will serve as part of the leadership team that formulates a new strategic plan, launches a new academic space plan, and updates the campus master plan. There will be ample opportunities for this individual to utilize their experience and knowledge to put their professional mark on Pitt-Bradford and make a lasting positive impact for many years to come.
- Pitt-Bradford is wholeheartedly committed to building strong, healthy, and mutually supportive relationships as a foundation of the campus culture. Collaboration across the institution is necessary to ensure the vice president’s success. It will be crucial that the successful candidate quickly reach out internally and across campus to begin building solid and mutually beneficial relationships that foster ongoing positive interactions. These connections are essential to assess the current environment and its needs, provide exceptional programs and services for the university, and ensure that the various departments within business affairs are each seen as good partners with whom they can effectively work. Upon arrival, the new vice president should conduct listening tours with internal business affairs departments and units, external departments, and the surrounding community to build connections with and between these stakeholders, understand their needs, and establish a baseline for strategic and operational plans in the future.
- The scope of responsibilities for this role is broad and highly impactful. The vice president will need to quickly become familiar with all aspects under their purview to develop a comprehensive list of priorities. Because of the size and scope of the responsibilities of the role, the vice president will need to prioritize a great deal of time learning the intricacies and nuances of those areas within their portfolio and understanding the culture and environment into which they are living and working. From the beginning of their tenure at Pitt-Bradford, the vice president must work diligently to discover the internal needs of the staff and the departments and establish themselves as the overall “face” of business affairs. A fast pace can be expected, with many entities wanting this person’s attention simultaneously, so the vice president must always be an effective multitasker and a diplomat.
- The ability to grow, develop, and mentor a dynamic professional staff while building a solid and dedicated business affairs team will be critical for success. To succeed in this area, the new vice president must be a strong motivator with high-level supervisory, organizational, and staff-development skills. Support for the staff is critical, and professional development at all levels is expected. Navigating through the current team’s needs, meeting with each unit individually, getting to know the people who comprise each unit, and spending quality time in each area will be essential tasks for the vice president.
- The University of Pittsburgh recently named a new chancellor, bringing optimism and excitement to the university and its system campuses. With new leadership also comes a fresh set of eyes on the entire university system. The new vice president should be flexible, adaptable, and willing to change direction should it be requested. Other recent and ongoing changes include the implementation of a new budgeting model, updates to system-wide purchasing and accounts payable processes, and an approved vote by the Pitt-Bradford faculty to unionize. The vice president must be prepared to address these and any future changes effectively, while advocating for the best interest of the university and applying the utmost customer service principles in every instance.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential parts of the Pitt-Bradford community. The vice president for business affairs must be a leader in supporting, understanding, embracing, and nurturing these concepts. There are many underrepresented populations within Pitt-Bradford (a higher percentage than currently exists on the main campus in Pittsburgh), and all units within business affairs need to be models for maintaining a strong sense of equity and an unbiased environment at all times. The new vice president should quickly become familiar with the campus climate and proactively participate in campus initiatives for engaging in conversation and action around diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of business affairs, including hiring practices and human resource policy.
- At Pitt-Bradford, the expectation is all upper-level administrators are “working executives.” This means that the vice president must remain highly visible and engaged with staff, faculty, administration, and students while working side-by-side with the professional team to promote unity, camaraderie, and a sense of community within the division. The vice president should prioritize getting out of the office and being seen, attending student events, participating in official Pitt-Bradford activities, collaborating across the university, and spending quality time within the campus and external community. To accomplish this, the vice president should have excellent communication skills and be able to articulate the “story” of business affairs across the university. Because of the close working relationships with the staff, being empathetic, understanding, and transparent in all interactions is essential for success.
- Innovation is a focal point for continually improving the student experience at Pitt-Bradford. There will be great support for working together to implement new ideas, cutting-edge technology, and national best practices in all areas of business affairs. The vice president should seek out successful business practices at other institutions, determine available professional benchmarking opportunities, and be involved in NACUBO or other national or regional associations to remain current on trending issues in the university business world.
- Stakeholders unanimously agreed that the area around Bradford is ideal for the outdoor enthusiast, with hiking, fishing, golfing, biking, camping, and skiing opportunities, including the 65,000-acre Allegany State Park, within a short distance from campus. Buffalo, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania, are approximately 90 minutes from Bradford, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Toronto, Canada, are within a three-hour drive, providing relatively easy access to larger urban areas if needed. Pitt-Bradford and the town of Bradford have a positive and synergistic relationship, generating many opportunities for town and gown involvement. These same stakeholders also adamantly indicated how much they enjoy working at Pitt-Bradford, appreciate the spirit of collegiality found throughout the institution, and value the support extended and received from each other, particularly in times of need.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
At an appropriate interval after joining Pitt-Bradford, the items listed below will initially define success for the new vice president for business affairs:
- Budgets and other fiscal processes are clearly communicated to the university community, budgets are successfully developed and implemented, and overall university finances are in good order.
- As with all other division leadership and cabinet members, the vice president maintains high visibility on campus, attends campus events and university activities when possible, has established a strong network of key partners and collaborative relationships, and has a positive reputation across the institution.
- The vice president’s staff is working together cohesively as a team, morale and staff retention are high, the vice president is consistently available and willing to actively listen to and work alongside staff, trust has been developed between the vice president and the various individuals and units in the portfolio, and professional development opportunities are available.
- A clear and transparent strategic plan has been developed, including straightforward objectives and measurable outcomes that are assessed effectively and efficiently; adjustments are regularly made based on these assessments, and robust feedback is solicited and utilized to shape the process in the future.
- Communication from the vice president’s office is frequent, transparent, and easily understood by all levels of the university.
- The vice president is seen as positive, approachable, innovative in problem-solving, and able to manage crises with a level head.
- A close relationship with the University of Pittsburgh has been nurtured and maintained.
- Having invested deeply in the local Bradford community, the vice president has established solid relationships, is recognized as a trusted partner, has become involved in local economic development or other community relations activities, and serves on boards as requested.
OVERVIEW OF BUSINESS AFFAIRS
- The business affairs division oversees much of the behind-the-scenes activities that assist the campus in running efficiently. The vice president for business affairs leads this division, and their responsibilities include the daily management and administration of all fiscal and business-related activities, as well as the oversight and administration of the following departments:
- Auxiliaries & Conference Services
- Computing, Telecommunications & Media Services
- Human Resources
- Facilities Management
Pitt-Bradford provides the advantages of a small liberal arts college—a favorable student-to-faculty ratio, an intimate and attractive campus setting that is personal in scale, close and friendly interactions between students and staff, and well-rounded and varied co-curricular experiences.
Founded in 1963 as a regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh and set in the heart of the scenic Alleghenies, Pitt-Bradford is a four-year baccalaureate institution enrolling approximately 1,200 students. Pitt-Bradford offers high-quality teaching, supported by the resources of a world-class research university, in a supportive, friendly, inclusive, and student-focused academic environment that is ideal for students who want to earn a world-renowned degree in a personalized atmosphere. Working closely with the institutional leadership, divisional staff, and colleagues across campus, the successful candidate will help lead the institution’s business affairs division in providing an outstanding student experience.
Rick Esch – President
President Rick Esch is a Pitt-Bradford and University of Pittsburgh graduate, with deep roots both in the university and surrounding communities. Esch began his career at his alma mater in 1995 as the director of auxiliary services, and in 1999, he was named chief business and administrative affairs officer. Esch was promoted to vice president for business affairs in 2003, and in 2012, he was named vice president for business affairs at the University of Pittsburg at Titusville (Pitt-Titusville).
After serving as interim president for a year, Esch was appointed president on July 1, 2022. In June 2021, he received Pitt-Bradford’s staff recognition award for helping the campus navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. For nearly 18 months, in addition to overseeing several campus departments, including budget and financial reporting, auxiliary services, and facilities management, Esch represented Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville on the chancellor’s resilience steering committee and worked closely with Pitt’s COVID-19 medical response office. He also collaborated with local, regional, and state agencies, including the McKean County and Crawford County emergency management agencies, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and Bradford Regional Medical Center.
President Esch is very active in the Bradford community. He is a board member and immediate past chairman of Journey Health System, president and charter member of the Tuna Valley Trail Association, a board member and managing director of the Bradford Educational Foundation, and a board member and vice chairman of the Bradford Economic Development Corporation.
President Esch received his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business Executive MBA program in 1998 and his bachelor of science in environmental science from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in 1983.
The office of diversity and inclusion (ODI) was established in 2015 to help build the university into a world-class model of diversity and inclusion defined by inclusive excellence and an environment that allows everyone to thrive.
ODI is committed to maintaining an environment free from harassment and discrimination, fostering diversity and celebrating differences, educating the community on the benefits of diversity, promoting equity, eliminating discrimination, and advancing equal access to all opportunities at the university.
Given the size, complexity, and collegial nature of Pitt-Bradford, ODI does not do this alone. The campus community contributes to the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through the work of faculty, staff, and students at all institution levels.
THE STUDENT BODY
Total Enrollment: 1,200
- Men: 42%
- Women: 58%
- White: 67.3%
- African American: 14%
- Asian: 6%
- Hispanic: 5.5%
- Two or More Races: 3.5%
- Race Unknown: 1.7%
- Non-Resident: 1.5%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 1%
- Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: .1%
- First Generation: 41%
- Pell Eligible: 42%
Pitt-Bradford’s benefits and services that are designed to support employees include:
- Health & Wellness
- Faculty/Staff Assistance Program
- Leaves of Absence
- Retirement Savings Plan
- Vacation/Personal Time Off
- Defined Dollar Benefit
For a more detailed description of benefits information, click here.
Review of applications will begin May 12, 2023, 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 J. Scott Derrick at email@example.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Salary Range: $140,000-$150,000
Visit the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford website at https://www.upb.pitt.edu/.
The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. EEO/AA/M/F/Vets/Disabled.