Jerry Bridges, the university's controller for almost
18 years, has announced his decision to retire from Johns
Hopkins at the end of the academic year.
Since 1987, Bridges has successfully led the
administration of financial reporting for the entire
university system, an enterprise that has grown
significantly during his tenure.
"Jerry has been an invaluable member of the
university's leadership," said James T. McGill, senior vice
president for finance and administration. "He and the
dedicated staff in the many departments that report to him
play critical roles in the successful administration of a
university that has grown to become, in financial terms, a
$2.8 billion business. On a personal level, I have very
much appreciated his leadership, his counsel and his
support. I will miss him."
In recent years, the Kentucky-born Bridges has played
an important role in the development of
the massive effort begun in January 2003 to re-engineer all
the financial and administrative processes of both the
university and health system. Once implemented, the
integrated Web-based system will effectively tie together
and streamline selected business functions, including
purchasing, accounts payable, payroll, sponsored projects
and human resources.
This past fall, Bridges and his staff successfully
negotiated a new facilities and administrative overhead
rate agreement with the federal government that could
provide a nearly $1 billion reimbursement of administrative
costs to the university over the next five years.
Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Bridges worked for 25
years in the federal government, where he helped oversee
several important management improvement and reorganization
initiatives. He managed finances and audits for the Air
Force and later the Defense Department and served as
assistant inspector general for the U.S. Information
Agency, an office that has since been integrated into the
A graduate of the University of Kentucky with a
bachelor's degree in accounting, Bridges received his
master's degree in business administration from the
University of Dayton and is a licensed CPA in Maryland and
The departments of the
Office are Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable,
Financial Quality Control, Financial Systems, General
Accounting, Payroll, Research Accounting, Student Loans and
the Tax Office.
In 1987, the Controller's Office had a staff who
shared a dozen computers and used adding machines and
typewriters to perform their tasks. Today, with
technological advances, many processes have been automated
and paper documents eliminated.
Bridges said that simplifying the financial reporting
processes at the university has been on ongoing
"Financial accounting and reporting for an institution
this size is highly complex, and this office needs to be
the source that folks turn to, as all of the financial
transactions of the university float through here," Bridges
said. "And in a highly decentralized environment such as
this, the challenge is to ensure that things are done
correctly and in a timely fashion. There is not the degree
of standardization here that you find in the private
Since the university's budget is dominated by federal
research grants, Bridges said that compliance has been a
preeminent and increasingly complicated issue throughout
his years at Johns Hopkins.
"Given our dependency on federal research dollars, it
is absolutely necessary there be full compliance," he said.
"What I have stressed all along are integrity, accuracy and
completeness in all financial activities and
McGill said that Bridges has brought special skills
and expertise to bear in working with the federal agencies
that sponsor and oversee Johns Hopkins research.
"Jerry has done an outstanding job in helping Johns
Hopkins to deal with regulatory and compliance matters," he
During Bridges' tenure, the Controller's Office has
trained, nurtured and developed dozens of staff who now
occupy important financial and accounting positions
throughout Johns Hopkins and elsewhere — several of
his former staff have become controllers at other
universities. In fact, a priority that Bridges gave himself
when he took the controller position was to reclassify the
jobs in the Controller's Office into career paths to allow
for "horizontal advancement and vertical movement."
"Perhaps the most satisfaction that I have gotten out
of the job is the success of the employees who have come
through here," he said. "The most important thing, in my
opinion, is having quality people and motivating them
— putting them in positions to be successful. Given
the size of the university, it is impossible for one person
to be involved with everything and know everything. It's
all about delegation."
Bridges said that for now his retirement plans include
spending more time with his family and three grandchildren
and to continue to teach accounting and finance at the
Bridges' official last day at the university will be
June 30, 2005.
A search for a successor as controller will begin
after the first of the year, McGill said.
"Though it will be difficult to fill Jerry's shoes,"
he said, "we will be seeking a highly competent and
experienced person to continue his work and to play a
significant role in the implementation of the HopkinsOne