Turnover in the Administration is continuing into the new year, and on Feb. 24, the finance office will be granted stability as Randy Freebourn takes over as Wittenberg’s new vice president of finance. Freebourn brings to the position not only a background in finance and money management, but also a passion for higher education.
Freebourn described the position as the “Chief Finical Officer of the university,” and is eager to take over in the duty of overseeing operations that range from constructing the budget for the university to managing student accounts. The vice president of finance’s responsibilities are a key role in the university’s administration.
Freebourn is coming from Purdue University, where he currently serves as assistant vice chancellor for business services at the Calmuet campus. He comes with a long history in higher education, previously serving in the finance department at St. Joseph University (Indiana).
The hire comes not only during a time of heavy turnover within the administration, but also as the school continues to grapple with the ongoing budget crisis. While the school has continued to hit enrollment goals, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the ratings on the school’s bonds to “B1” (which is a rating that indicates high credit risk), citing “structurally imbalanced operating performance” and “fragile market position.” The ratings then affirmed the downgrade this summer.
Freebourn is undeterred by the school’s budget issues, noting “professionally, I see it as an opportunity,” and citing it as one of the reasons he was attracted to the job at Wittenberg. Freebourn’s readiness to face the challenge is not unfounded with his experience working at St. Joseph University, which saw an economic turnaround during his tenure at the institution, which is similar to the situation at Wittenberg in many ways. Freebourn saw balancing the budget and playing a role in the financial turnaround of St. Joseph’s as a principal professional accomplishment. Freebourn is quick to point out that his accomplishments came as part of a team.
“In my career, success has always come from the efforts of many people,” he said.
When asked about moving from a large institution to Wittenberg, Freebourn displayed a passion for education.
“I wanted to get back to a student-centered environment,” Freebourn said. “As much as people do not want to admit it, universities are businesses and businesses need to cater to the wants and needs of their markets. In the case of Wittenberg, the students are the market, so I am eager to find out what the students really care about.”
Freebourn, who is a University of Dayton graduate, also is eager to return to a faith-based institution and to the southwest Ohio region where he will be closer to friends and family than he was with his previous job.