Loftin creates two new positions in university administration

Rhonda Gibler will now be known as vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin speaks at a media conference Feb. 14, 2014, in Jesse Hall. Loftin appointed Rhonda Gibler vice chancellor for finance and Gary Ward vice chancellor for operations. Maneater File Photo

As one of his first orders of business, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin decided to implement a shift in financial oversight for the university.

Departments that had previously reported to interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Gary Ward and Budget Director Rhonda Gibler are being reallocated. They will respectively be known as the vice chancellor for operations and the vice chancellor for finance.

Loftin appointed Gibler as the new vice chancellor for finance, a role known to the general public as chief financial officer.

Gibler is beginning to familiarize herself with areas of finance oversight that will now be integrated into her job. She is also continuing her role in the budget office, with which she is already familiar.

“What we’re hoping to do is align all the finance functions so we can see which effective processes to put into place,” she said. “I’ll be more involved in understanding the financial health of the entire scope of the university, versus in the budget role it was more intensely on the academic side.”

Loftin said he consulted with faculty about the structural changes to better streamline communication.

Gibler’s previous role as budget director entailed examining the colleges’ financial health. She spent time understanding the colleges’ budgets and outlooks and had limited interaction with overarching financial functions, a fact that Loftin found disturbing.

“There was no single person here who actually was in charge of finances,” Loftin said. “And that made no sense to me. I really wanted one person I could go to for the information I needed, and hold accountable for how we operated the finances of the university.”

In addition to changing Gibler’s role, Loftin also retitled Administrative Services to Operations. Ward’s position will be known as vice chancellor for operations and chief operating officer.

The former Administrative Services Division oversaw MU Business Services, which includes Accounting Services, the Office of Cashiers and the Student Loan Repayment Center, MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

Now various aspects of Administrative Services will be under Gibler’s watch instead. Ward will serve in a different capacity.

“(The operations) division will continue to oversee Campus Facilities, (MU Police Department), Environmental Health and Safety,” Basi said. “But departments that are involved with financial functions are now being shifted to the vice chancellor for finance.”

Ward previously had a subset of people in Administrative Services handling financial operations, such as paying bills and keeping records. Meanwhile, Gibler had a small budget staff that reported directly to the chancellor during her time as budget director.

Loftin did not like the differentiation of the departments, and he cited a need for change.

“The current structure was successful largely based on the institutional knowledge and history of key individuals who have now retired,” he said in an email sent to all faculty concerning the change. “There is a need going forward to find additional ways to streamline processes.”

Gibler said helping people adjust to this change is what’s important right now.

“Even if it’s finance that you're talking about, it’s the actual people you have to count on that make it work,” she said. “So far I’ve been trying to meet with people, versus counting how many heads that is. At this point, I’m thinking of the mission level of it.”

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