Tim Slottow, executive vice president and chief financial officer, announced Tuesday that he will step down from his role to serve as the seventh president of the University of Phoenix. Slottow will leave the University on June 19 and assume his new position on June 20.
“As you can imagine, this has been a tough decision for me, because I love doing what I do for this University, and I love working with all of you to ‘Make Blue Go’ each day,” Slottow said in a statement.
University President Mary Sue Coleman lauded Slottow’s work in his pivotal role in maintaining and enhancing the University’s endowment in a statement released Tuesday.
“He has played an integral role in the University’s growth and financial stability throughout the recession, ensuring our academic excellence as he worked in partnership with our academic and university leaders,” Coleman said. “His fiscal acumen has served U-M exceptionally well, and I thank him.”
Coleman will recommend the Board of Regents approve Douglas L. Strong, chief executive officer of the University’s Hospitals and Health Centers, to serve as interim CFO at their next meeting on April 10. Ora Pescovitz, executive vice president for medical affairs, will recommend Anthony Denton, executive director and chief operating officer of the University’s Hospitals and Health Centers, to the board.
The University of Phoenix is a for-profit institution of higher education, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. The institution grants bachelor’s, associate, master’s and doctoral degrees, through both online and on-campus programs at more than 100 locations across the country.
The university was founded in 1976 with the aim of serving working adults who desire a degree in higher education offered through flexible and nearby classes. Today, the University of Phoenix is the largest for-profit institution of higher education in the country.
Slottow will fill the role recently vacated by Bill Pepicello, outgoing University of Phoenix president, who has served in the position since 1995.
In a press release, Marrilee Lewis Engel, chair of the University of Phoenix board of trustees, said Slottow’s experience at the University makes him an ideal candidate for the position.
“Tim Slottow’s leadership at the University of Michigan amplifies what he has done throughout his accomplished career: delivering measurable results to public and private organizations as they embrace the principle of continuous advancement and transition to reach ambitious goals,” Engel said.
Greg Cappelli, a member of the University of Phoenix board of trustees and the chief executive officer of Apollo Education Group, the university’s parent company, discussed Slottow’s qualifications in an e-mail sent to employees Tuesday.
“What stood out during our interviews was Tim’s personal passion for our mission to provide the opportunities for students to advance in their lives — and in their careers — through high-quality, accessible, higher education programs,” he wrote. “He is determined to make education work for working students, and we’re so incredibly pleased that he chose us to further his efforts.”
Traditionally, the position of University provost has been the stepping-stone to the presidency of another university. Former University provosts Phil Hanlon and Teresa Sullivan were selected to lead other institutions — Dartmouth University and the University of Virginia, respectively — during their tenures as provost.
In a letter to colleagues in the University’s Office of Business and Finance, Slottow said the country’s future relies not only on institutions like the University, but also on those more focused on meeting the needs of non-traditional, mid-career adult students. With the University of Phoenix’s online program, a college education is available to a larger number of students and professionals.
“As you know, I am passionate about higher education and believe deeply in the important role the University of Michigan plays in preparing future leaders and helping to solve many of our most vexing societal challenges,” he wrote. “We know, too, that our country’s competitiveness will rely on the full spectrum of higher education opportunities to educate our workforce so it can meet its potential and fuel U.S. economic development.”
The departure also poses an additional challenge for University President-elect Mark Schlissel, who will need to fill multiple interim positions at the beginning of his term. S. Jack Hu is currently serving as the interim vice president for research, and Michael Johns will fill in as interim CEO of the University of Michigan Health System following Pescovitz’s departure.
During his 12 years in the position, Slottow led the University through a number of cost-saving initiatives designed to keep budgets in check during a period of declining state funding.
Slottow piloted programs such as strategic sourcing — procurement measures designed to save money by buying equipment and supplies in bulk across multiple University units — and the Administrative Services Transformation Project — an initiative that will centralize department-level employees in a shared services center.
“Collectively we have met the largest and smallest challenges — posed by our external environment and rapidly changing campus needs — with innovative new ways of doing business,” Slottow said in his statement.
In October, Slottow announced the University’s endowment reached an all-time high of $8.4 billion over the fiscal year. The endowment is now the second-largest of any public university, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Commonfund.
During Slottow’s time at the University, the endowment has increased from $3.5 billion in 2003 to $8.4 billion.