Job Openings >> University of Rhode Island-Assistant Vice President for Financial Operations and Controller
University of Rhode Island-Assistant Vice President for Financial Operations and Controller
Title:University of Rhode Island-Assistant Vice President for Financial Operations and Controller
Academic Career & Executive Search is pleased to assist the University of Rhode Island in their search for an Assistant Vice President for Financial Operations and Controller.

For best consideration, "Apply by Date" is extended to June 7, 2021.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for a results-driven strategist and change agent to serve as the Assistant Vice President for Financial Operations and Controller within this public R2, land-grant, sea-grant, flagship university serving over seventeen thousand students in Southern New England. Located in the beautiful coastal region of Rhode Island known as South County, the University of Rhode Island has achieved dramatic growth at a time when the number of high school graduates in the Northeast has been declining. Enrollment has steadily increased over the last ten years at the University of Rhode Island, while student quality in terms of test scores and the GPA of entering students simultaneously improved. The University enjoyed record applications for the Fall of 2021, along with increased graduation and retention rates.

The University boasts numerous nationally and internationally recognized programs, are recruiting top notch faculty, and have invested over one billion dollars in capital improvements since 2007 including the new eight million, two hundred thousand Robert J. Higgins Welcome Center in 2018, a one hundred, eighty seven thousand sf state-of-the-art College of Engineering building in 2019, and an apartment-style, six-story, five hundred bed residence hall in 2020. The University of Rhode Island Division of Research and Economic Development has enjoyed twelve years of continued growth and success, with over six percent annualized growth in Sponsored Awards over the last six years, totaling one hundred seventeen million in 2020 and with a fully attainable target of one hundred twenty five million for 2024. URI is a university on the move.

The successful candidate will join the University at a pivotal moment and with the opportunity to leave a lasting impact by redefining the office, modernizing business processes, and guiding the planning, design, and implementation of a new ERP system. The ideal candidate is highly collaborative, process oriented, and possesses both the strategic and tactical abilities needed to develop business processes and shape operations. As a dynamic leader, the AVP of Financial Operations and Controller must be an individual confident with prioritizing and managing multiple operations and competing priorities as they work to accomplish the institution’s goals.

This position reports to the Vice President, Division of Administration and Finance.

Candidates with experience outside higher education will be considered. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in fiscal operations in higher education.

Basic Functions:
  • The Assistant Vice President plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and soundness of the institution.
  • The incumbent is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining a comprehensive system of internal controls and for keeping senior leadership apprised of the financial condition of the University.
  • Responsible for the continuous refinement of administrative controls and systems to ensure compliance with federal, state, and institutional policies and procedures and the latest accounting practices.
  • Provide safeguards for the University's assets.
  • Ascertain and compare actual performance against established standards and communicate results to appropriate levels of leadership.
  • Prepare financial reports as required to satisfy federal, state, and higher education requirements.
  • Consult with senior leadership on the validity of fiscal and overall operational objectives and ascertain the effectiveness of policies, procedures, and organizational structure in place to achieve such objectives.
  • Stay abreast of changes occurring in various professional bodies of authority, such as FASB, GASB, and federal regulations (e.g., OMB Uniform Guidance).

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
  • Provide strong oversight over basic University business processes and systems to ensure that such processes/systems work with reliable, auditable financial data, that these processes/systems are linked and tied into other systems throughout the University, and that such processes and systems provide information useful to management in exercising their responsibilities.
  • Maintain the general ledger and oversee the year-end audit.
  • Prepare the documentation for and negotiate the University's indirect cost reimbursement rate for sponsored research.
  • Oversee Accounting, Financial Reporting (including accounts receivable, financial statements, student loans, and cash reconciliation), Payroll, Sponsored & Cost Accounting, and the PeopleSoft Enterprise Financial System. Serve as liaison with Enrollment Services, which includes the Bursar function.
  • Provide assistance to University Divisional and Departmental leaders and business managers in carrying out their duties and responsibilities. Provide, analyze, and interpret financial results to leaders and managers for utilization in their decision-making processes, and evaluate data with reference to institutional and departmental objectives.
  • In consultation with senior leadership, establish financial performance indicators and advise leadership of actual performance measured against these indicators, with recommendations for potential areas for improvement.
  • Manage a large staff of both union and non-union workers.
  • Design, establish, and maintain general and cost accounting systems at all institutional levels, including enterprises, auxiliaries, extensions, and branches, to systematically and properly record financial activities and transactions in accordance with sound accounting principles and sound internal controls in order to ensure the reliability and integrity of financial information.
  • Provide oversight and training to School, Department, Enterprise, Auxiliary, Extension, and Branch Managers as needed to ensure uniform financial operations and practices across the institution.
  • Design, establish, and maintain a fixed asset system to ensure compliance with the most current accounting standards.
  • Manage and supervise assigned treasury functions.
  • Establish and continuously review the pre-audit and approval processes for all disbursement transactions.
  • Prepare and issue standard operating policies and procedures related to all accounting matters.
  • Maintain appropriate relationships with internal and external auditors and institutional investor and financial public relations programs.

Required Qualifications:
  • Undergraduate degree in Accounting or related field and CPA.
  • Minimum of five (5) years’ experience in organizing, coordinating, and supervising a large support staff.
  • Ten years’ experience in accounting with progressive management experience in a complex setting.
  • Experience with sponsored research accounting or similar demonstrated experience with federal contracting requirements
  • Demonstrated ability to clearly communicate complicated financial issues verbally and in writing to all levels within and outside of the organization.
  • Extensive demonstrated experience with enterprise financial systems, database query tools, expert financial modeling utilizing spreadsheets or enterprise-level modeling tools.
  • Experience in designing, implementing, and evaluating internal control systems.
  • Demonstrated ability to draft and interpret institutional financial and accounting policies, plans, objectives, rules, and regulations, and to communicate the results to subordinates and others.
  • Demonstrated ability to prepare and present detailed studies and reports, and to make recommendations concerning the substance of the studies and reports.
  • Demonstrated success in inculcating a customer service orientation and ethic in a large staff function.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with diverse groups/populations.

Preferred Qualifications:
  • An MBA or Masters in Accounting, Public Administration, or related field.
  • Experience in a large research university.
  • High proficiency in the use of business information systems.
  • High proficiency with data visualization software.
  • Organizational leadership skills.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • Experience with and enthusiasm for advancing ideas and programs in a shared governance environment.

About the University of Rhode Island:

The University of Rhode Island, commonly referred to as URI, is the flagship public research as well as the land grant and sea grant university for the state of Rhode Island. Its main campus is located in the village of Kingston in southern Rhode Island. Smaller campuses include the Feinstein Campus in Providence, the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center in Providence, the Narragansett Bay Campus in Narragansett, and the W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich.

URI has invested one billion dollars in campus capital projects and improvements in the last twelve years including the construction of these new facilities as well as additional major renovations:
  • $125M Engineering complex
  • $94M 500-bed Brookside Apartments complex
  • $75M Pharmacy Building, Paramaz Avedisian ’54 Hall
  • $54M Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences
  • LEED Gold-certified $68M Beaupre Center for Chemical, Forensic Sciences
  • $15M Ocean Science and Exploration Center

With more than seventeen thousand students representing forty eight states and sixty seven countries, URI continues to grow and offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees in over ninety undergraduate and ninety six graduate areas of study, as well as numerous certificate and non-degree programs through eight academic colleges. These colleges include Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education and Professional Studies, Engineering, Health Sciences, Environment and Life Sciences, Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Graduate School for Oceanography. Another college, University College for Academic Success, serves primarily as an advising college for all incoming undergraduates and follows them through their first two years of enrollment at URI.

Living in the Area:

Rhode Island, nicknamed the Ocean State, packs every amenity into an area only forty-eight miles long and thirty-seven miles wide. The University is minutes from the beach and scenic Newport is right across the bay. The area offers a relaxing New England country setting just thirty miles south of Providence, seventy-five miles from Boston and one hundred and sixty miles from New York City.
The area brings an excellent quality of life, strong school systems, and low commute times with amenities for everyone including outdoor and water activities, restaurants, shopping, world-class music festivals, farmer’s markets, galleries, and museums.

Transportation is easy with the Kingston Amtrak Station down the road from campus and T.F. Green International Airport only twenty minutes away.


Applications will be reviewed as they are received and should include a cover letter and CV. Please do not email applications. To be viewed by the firm, you must apply directly. 

For best consideration, "Apply by Date" is extended to June 7, 2021.

Inquiries, referrals, and nominations are treated confidentially and can be sent to Jennifer Muller, Managing Partner at Academic Career & Executive Search at

The University of Rhode Island is an AA/EEOD employer. Women, persons of color, protected veterans, individuals with disabilities, and members of other protected groups are encouraged to apply.

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