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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 3, 2008 | Vol. 38 No. 10
Finance Office Gets 'Makeover'

Michael Strine
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS

Senior VP Jim McGill taps Michael Strine for new VP post

By Tracey A. Reeves

The university's Office of Finance and Administration is undergoing a makeover of sorts — one that its leaders say will make it more effective and efficient in the way that it handles the institution's business.

Jim McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration, said he is making the changes to streamline university administration, and to facilitate coordination among central financial units. As part of the restructuring, McGill has tapped Michael Strine, executive director of financial planning and analysis and a Johns Hopkins graduate, to be vice president for finance, a newly created position. The appointment is effectively immediately.

"Since arriving at Johns Hopkins University," McGill said, "I have maintained a flat organizational structure, which has worked well, I believe. However, it is timely to reduce the number of direct reports."

McGill said he made the changes for several reasons, including a need to focus his time on productivity initiatives. To that end, Strine will now oversee the university's controller, treasurer and purchasing operation in addition to budgets. He also will use existing resources to structure a small office to aid in improving business processes across the university. Strine also will begin the process of recruiting a new controller to replace Phil Tahey, who committed to three years in that post when he joined the university in 2005.

McGill said Strine is well-qualified for his new role because of his appreciation of the university's tradition of shared responsibility between central units and the divisional financial and administrative offices.

"He has developed excellent working relationships throughout Johns Hopkins. Coupled with his financial skills, he is ready to serve in his new role," McGill said. "Hopkins is fortunate to have Michael back as one of its own."

Strine, who earned a doctorate in political science from the School of Arts and Sciences in 1992, said that the restructuring and his stepped-up role are part of a larger plan to position the financial team in central administration to focus on such issues as cost-cutting, efficiency and effectiveness, and realigning the SAP software system. The goal, Strine said, is for the university's finance offices to better support their customers — faculty and staff, trustees, outside auditors and vendors.

"The new structure will not change the patterns of interaction that members of the finance team in central administration have with their divisional counterparts," Strine said. Instead, he said, it will provide an opportunity for those offices to collectively manage their priorities and resources and to consolidate their support functions, such as technology systems, budget and human resources, to better serve their customers.

Strine added that the restructuring is meant to make sure that in a time of transition in the university's presidency and the Controller's Office, the financial organization is positioned to ensure continuation of the excellence that he said has characterized the Johns Hopkins finance administration over the last decade.

McGill praised Tahey and his work, particularly his implementation of the financial piece of SAP and his efforts to negotiate the myriad of regulatory issues that govern research and other complicated aspects of the university. Tahey will continue to serve as controller until his replacement is hired and afterward will work on special projects as his time permits, McGill said.

"Phil Tahey has served admirably as controller of the university for more than three years," McGill said. "He brought to us not only his exceptional intelligence and skills but knowledge of Johns Hopkins from his prior work here with the university's audit firm."

Strine arrived at the university just six months ago from New Castle County, Del., where he served as chief financial officer. He has extensive experience in financial policy and operations, including budget, treasury, cash management, accounting and internal controls, as well as accounts payable and payroll. Previously, he served two Delaware governors in the state's Department of Finance, where he oversaw policy development, financial analysis, and legislative and public affairs.

A 1986 graduate of the University of Delaware, Strine earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins studying public law under J. Woodford Howard. Strine has also served as an assistant professor at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was published in leading journals.


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