Finance & Administration Updates and Budget-Planning Process

by President Richard Plumb | January 27, 2023

One of my top priorities as President is to ensure an effective, transparent, and inclusive budget-planning process for Saint Mary’s College. Pursuant to that objective, I initiated a comprehensive assessment of our finance and administration practices led by higher-education industry experts from The Registry to recommend short-term and long-term budget-planning processes. Based on this assessment, I am providing the following updates regarding the Business Office and budget-planning process.

As budgeting is rarely an easy task, and often requires more bandwidth and resources to get the job done, I have brought on board Michael Hindery as our Interim Chief Business Officer. This is a particularly fortuitous hire given the retirement of our Vice President for Finance and Administration, Susan Collins. 

As Interim Chief Business Officer, Mike will oversee Finance and Human Resources, manage the FY23 budget, and help develop the FY24 budget. Mike has served as Vice President for Finance and Administration at Santa Clara University and has held a variety of key strategic, financial, and operational leadership positions at the University of California San Francisco, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Mike’s experience fits well with our current budget and finance challenges and needs.  

Based on this in-depth assessment of the finance and administration practices that are so critical to our short-term and long-term budgeting plans, Mike will be spearheading the following recommendations that we will now work to implement campus-wide:

  1. Develop three-year revenue and expense projections that align budgets with our strategic plan. These projections will take into account tuition and food and housing fees collected, fundraising efforts, and other revenue. Approved budgets will be distributed in a timely manner, while budget reporting will occur monthly.
  2. Develop an accessible and web-based depository of policies and procedures as well as associated training programsIn addition, we’ll work to create a customer-focused organizational structure in Finance and Administration.
  3. To address complexities around our current enterprise software, more robust training will be provided. We’ll reexamine the composition of our technology committee and develop campus user groups to more effectively identify user experience issues with our software.

Moving forward, our guiding principles with budget planning will be to:

  • Maintain the lowest possible cost of education by controlling tuition as well as food and housing rate increases, and funding financial aid
  • Increase Saint Mary’s ability to recruit and retain talented faculty and staff
  • Make investments which support the strategic plan, per the Board’s approval of which I will soon announce
  • Invest in systems to enhance the learning and efficiency environments
  • Responsibly steward costs and expenses

To be successful, we’ll need to consistently align our revenues with expenses, while ensuring consistent funding of faculty and staff salary increases as well as retirement plan contributions. Underpinning all of this work will be our strategic plan, which I plan on communicating in an upcoming campus message and at the State of the College Address on February 22. More information on the inaugural State of the College Address will be forthcoming.

I’m confident that the steps we are taking in our near- and long-term budgeting processes will strengthen Saint Mary’s College well into the future. Our search for a new Vice President for Finance and Administration continues to go well, and I look forward to providing a future update.


Richard Plumb, PhD