Experienced staff members exit Finance office

Jack Dobbs

With the retirements and departures of several financial staff members this semester, WKU is losing almost 69 total years of experience.

One soon-to-be retiree is Paula Jarboe, the current Chief Financial Officer of the WKU Foundation. In the more than two decades she worked at WKU, she witnessed extensive changes to the campus and the university as a whole.

“My beginning began when Dr. [Gary] Ransdell began,” Jarboe said. “We went through all of the growth and the change under his leadership, the exciting revitalization of the campus. I can’t imagine the changes that have been made.”

Jarboe said when she came to WKU in 1997, the university had an endow- ment of $19 million. Now, Jarboe said the university’s endowment is more than $150 million.

“It’s just been exponential, the energy from students and from alums and from faculty and staff,” Jarboe said. “It’s been amazing to see the growth.”

Jarboe’s retirement will take effect Dec. 31 of this year.

Jarboe is not the only member of the WKU staff leaving. Several other staff members in the Office of Strategy, Operation and Finance are retiring or have posted their resignation.

Stacy Garrett has also left the Finance office. Tony Glisson, director of human resources at WKU, said Garrett left the university for another position in Bowling Green. Garrett worked in the Finance office for almost 12 years.

One member, Brad Wheeler, assistant vice president of business services and real estate, worked with the office for almost 20 years.

The reason for his departure, Wheeler said, was because he was offered a “great opportunity” to become a wealth manager at Level Four Wealth Management, an investment advisory firm, in Bowling Green, an opportunity he said that he couldn’t turn down.

Even though he is leaving, Wheeler said he enjoyed the people he came to know while working at WKU.

“I love the people here at WKU,” Wheeler said. “It’s just a remarkable group of people that work up here that are in the trenches and get it done.”

Wheeler’s resignation took effect on Oct. 31. Wheeler said he is planning on “providing some counsel” for the office as it seeks a replacement for Wheeler.

Jim Cummings, WKU’s chief financial officer, is retiring. Cummings took the position of CFO in 2005.

Cummings considers lowering the interest WKU pays for outstanding bonds to be his greatest accomplishment, he said. Between 2011 and 2016, advance refundings were completed on six series of outstanding bonds, he said.

“Those actions generated total debt service savings of $10.8 million over the remaining terms of the refunded bonds,” Cummings said in an email. “I’m very proud of the opportunities that provided to reallocate those annual debt service savings to other priorities.”

Earlier this year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 1, a controversial piece of legislation which impacts the pensions of state employees. Cummings said this bill allows WKU to evaluate its participation in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.

“While we have already begun that review process, it will continue to occur over the next several months, and I won’t be able to participate in some of the more important decisions that must be made,” Cummings said. “However, I am confident that our administration will evaluate the options and will make decisions that are in the best interest of our employees and our institution.”

Cummings said he feels WKU is fac- ing its financial challenges the best it can, with new administrative leader- ship alongside a new budget model.

“I truly am pleased with the current focus on ‘right sizing’ the institution and improving our financial and operational performance,” Cummings said. “I am very excited about what I believe the future holds for WKU.”

Cummings is pleased with the journey he had at WKU, he said. He considers WKU’s faculty and staff to be the university’s greatest asset.

“I’ve worked with some of the most wonderful colleagues at WKU, and I’ve made so many lifelong friends here,” Cummings said. “I’m really grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had at WKU.”

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @jackrdobbs.