UC Berkeley Official to Oversee UC BudgetCampus Vice Chancellor Appointed Executive Vice President of UC Business Operations
Analysis: Brostrom to UCOPAssistant University News Editor Mihir Zaveri talks to reporter Emma Anderson about the transition of Vice Chancellor of Administration Nathan Brostrom to a new role in the UCOP.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Category: News > University > Academics and Administration
He came to UC Berkeley to shake up the campus's financial strategy. Now, Vice Chancellor of Administration Nathan Brostrom brings his big banking experience to the UC Office of the President.
UC President Mark Yudof appointed Brostrom Jan. 21 as executive vice president of business operations-effective Feb. 1-where he will oversee the university's approximately $19 billion budget. He has served in the position on an interim basis since last September when Katherine Lapp left UC for Harvard University.
Frank Yeary, UC Berkeley vice chancellor, and Ron Coley, associate vice chancellor of business and administrative services, will share Brostrom's campus duties until a permanent replacement is found, according to a campuswide e-mail sent by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau Jan. 21.
Brostrom took a leading role in raising private funds for the recently approved $321 million renovation of Memorial Stadium. In past months he has also been a leading campus supporter of Operational Excellence, a controversial campus initiative that brought in consulting firm Bain & Company to identify financial inefficiencies on campus.
Before coming to campus, Brostrom had been the manager of the Western Region Public Finance Group for J.P. Morgan Securities in San Francisco. During his 10 years at J.P. Morgan, he oversaw a $11.3 billion bond sale for the state of California, the largest municipal deal in U.S. history at that time, according to a university statement.
During the past four years at UC Berkeley, Brostrom said a main challenge has been reconciling the needs of an educational institution with the efficiencies of corporate business strategies.
"(The campus) is more decentralized and you have to be collaborative and consultative in making decisions," he said. "In a corporate environment, the process is streamlined and a little more efficient."
A financial background brought a fresh perspective to campus, he said.
"There were certain things in the finance area that the UC system was not doing as effectively … in the debt, asset and budgeting area," Brostrom said.
Creating a central payroll system among the 11 UC campuses illustrates his administrative intentions, he said. However, increasing communication between the university administration and students, faculty and staff also takes precedence, he added.
"Sometimes there was a bit of mentality of controlling the campuses and compliance," he said of the relationship between the UC administration and individual campuses. Some faculty worry about the presence of non-academics in the campus and UC administrations.
"There seems to be an eerie parallel with management of corporate America being decoupled from those who actually create and work with products on the ground," UC Berkeley professor Robert Dudley said in an e-mail. "In this case the product (is) higher education."
Charles Schwartz, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus said a lack of experience in academia should not preclude the hiring of business executives in the campus and university administrations. But, he added, executives must demonstrate a commitment to the public and academic missions of the university.
"I have yet to see that level of performance," he said of Brostrom.
Emma Anderson covers academics and administration. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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