The summer has brought significant changes to the top leadership roles at SNU, but the people filling those positions have remained virtually unchanged.
It was first announced to campus staff and faculty that Donna Nance, then VP for Financial Affairs, had tendered her resignation and would be moving on to another university.
Dr. Scott Strawn, VP of Student Development, was selected to fill the newly-vacated position.
Dr. Mike Redwine, VP of Enrollment Management, was tapped to replace Strawn in student development.
Dr. Linda Cantwell, Associate VP of Enrollment Management, was chosen to replace Redwine.
One other change affecting the Cabinet is the modification of the Cabinet level position for the VP of Spiritual Development. This change is reportedly intended to free up time from administrative tasks to focus on serving in more of a pastoral role.
“We didn’t eliminate the spiritual life position; it just got moved off the Cabinet. We still have a spiritual life,” Dr. Mary Jones, provost and chief academic officer, said.
Members of university administration have been quick to point out that this move is not meant to de-emphasize spiritual development.
“It’s my opinion that this is not some kind of slippery slope where we’re de-emphasizing the spiritual life of campus. It’s really a strategic move that we give our campus pastor a chance to be that,” Redwine said.
Effect on cabinet
With this change, the number of people serving on the Cabinet will change from seven to six. A hypothetical impact of this change is that an even number of members could create tie votes and complicate decision-making. Several Cabinet members consider this scenario unlikely.
“We rarely have close votes. Most of the time we work through issues to the point where if it’s not a unanimous vote, it might be one negative or one abstention. I don’t foresee that [tie votes-ed],” university president Dr. Loren Gresham said.
With these changes, the only person actually joining the Cabinet will be Cantwell. The new Cabinet will be composed of Gresham, Jones, Strawn, Redwine, Cantwell, and Dr. Terry Toller, VP for University Advancement and Church Relations.
“I suppose that Dr. Gresham always has one more vote than however many there are of us; he has seven votes if there are six total,” Redwine said. “If we’re ever at a point where we did run into the 3-3 tie, it’s probably an issue that we really need to step back and have some more information.”
While Cantwell and Redwine both have relevant previous experience at other universities, Strawn’s transition to Financial Affairs is less obvious, at least at the level of credentials. Unlike Nance, Strawn is not a CPA nor has he had any formal training as an accountant.
“There is no question he lacks some of the experience and the credentials that we had in Donna Nance,” Gresham said. “Her predecessor was not a CPA and going back they were not CPA’s.”
Gresham notes that the administrative team made this choice based on their observations of Strawn’s grasp of finance and budget during the four years he’s been here.
In the transition, Strawn told Gresham, “I know our business. I know our budget. I know how to do capital projects. I know a lot about what we do and what I want to try to accomplish for the strategic planning in the CFO job, but the mechanics, some of the stuff that’s really important that you get right (audits, accounting, etc.), some of those things I’m going to need some time to grow into.”
When interviewed by The Echo, both Gresham and Strawn were highly complimentary of the Financial Affairs staff and their potential to help Strawn during the transition. In addition, a mentor/coach for Strawn has been arranged.
“I will be and have already arranged to have a mentor/coach for him who is a CPA, MBA, CFO of a savings and loan company, and a CFO of Point Loma [Nazarene University] for about fifteen years,” Gresham said.
Strawn will assume his new duties on September 1.