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Ann E. Berman will permanently fill one of Harvard’s top financial posts, the University announced yesterday.
Appointed vice president for finance and chief financial officer, Berman has the power to shape policy at a time when tightening budgets weigh increasingly on the minds of top University administrators.
Berman has served as acting vice president for finance since Elizabeth C. “Beppie” Huidekoper left the job for a similar post at Brown University in October.
Provost Steven E. Hyman said Berman faces a tough task in staving off financial cuts that the University has thus far succesfully avoided.
“In a period in which the markets are doing poorly, and in which it’s going to be work to maintain the stream of gifts that we’re used to,” he said, “prudent financial management is absolutely critical so we don’t wind up in a situation where we have to make draconian cuts.”
When she began her tenure as acting vice president, Berman did not want the job permanently, according to Hyman.
Berman could not be reached for comment, but in a statement released yesterday, she said she is looking forward to officially taking the University’s financial reins.
“There are many financial and strategic challenges for the University in the next several years, and I am excited about the opportunity to work with President [Lawrence H.] Summers and Provost Hyman, and the senior management team in determining our direction,” she said.
University officials lauded Berman’s appointment.
“Ann is the kind of person who could be the chief financial officer almost anywhere,” Hyman said. “To have somebody with that skill set who also shares University values, to have that available to us is really terrific for the university.”
Summers applauded Berman’s performance as acting vice president in the press release.
“I have been impressed by Ann’s crisp and effective management of the University’s financial and budgeting processes,” he said. “I am confident that she has the professional experience and personal qualities to help us achieve essential University-wide objectives.”
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) William C. Kirby, who worked closely with Berman in her previous capacity as his senior advisor, said Berman’s ability to garner the esteem of her colleagues makes her a good choice to head up University-wide finance endeavors.
“She knows our faculty well and knows the College and the Graduate School [of Arts and Sciences] and has enormous respect in the Faculty and now in all of our sister faculties,” he said.
According to Hyman, Berman’s combination of management and financial skills with an insider’s knowledge of the University made her an ideal candidate for the job.
And her experience working at FAS allows her to understand financial issues from the individual schools’ points of view as well as from the University’s standpoint, he said.
Although the University’s plans to move some facilities to Allston “loom large” on the horizon, Hyman said, budgeting for new developments there is not currently a top priority.
“She’ll have her work cut out for her, but right now this isn’t the biggest thing on her plate,” he said.
Berman has worked at Harvard since 1991, serving as FAS associate dean of finance from 1994 to 2000 and as senior advisor to the FAS dean from 2000 to 2002.
From 1991 to 1994, she was a financial planner and strategic consultant to the president of Radcliffe College.
Previously, Berman spent ten years as a public accountant at Price Waterhouse and Richard A. Eisner & Co.
She received her B.A. from Cornell University and completed graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Columbia University, and New York University.
—Staff writer Stephen M. Marks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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