New Wesleyan CFO seeks stability amid challenges

BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Wesleyan College’s new chief financial officer knows of the challenges facing higher education, but he also knows the benefits of a liberal arts education.

Dr. Scott McKinney began his duties May 21.

“I had just finished a two-year assignment at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina helping restore financial stability,” McKinney said in an interview before he started at Wesleyan. “It was a matter of timing partially. I wanted to move to a more stable larger institution. I loved the fact that Wesleyan was in the mountains and it is at the intersection of Christian faith with education that matches perfectly with my background.

McKinney received his undergraduate degree from Mars Hill College, a residential liberal arts college near Asheville, N.C.

“I like being a part of making that [liberal arts education] available to other students,” he said.

The CFO comes into the role after a tough year in which WVWC laid off nearly 30 employees in the fall of 2017.

“Throughout the search process, people have expressed concerns about what happened,” McKinney said. “You have to be empathetic to the people who are directly affected by it.

“I have a history with two private colleges specifically with having to be a part of making those decisions and having to restore financial stability,” he said. “Here that work has already started that. I have lived through that. Number one, I can show great empathy for that. I do understand what the whole community is going through.”

At the same time, McKinney said that times are challenging in higher education today.

“We have to be willing to allocate resources differently and remain solvent,” he said. “My role as CFO is to help people make well informed decisions [and] help people understand the consequences of decisions that are made — especially from a financial perspective.”

McKinney said he was impressed by the community support for the college. Many people he has met are Wesleyan alumni or have friends and family members who are alumni.

“People in the community are very positive and very supportive,” he said. “I like that strong sense of community support that is evident there.”

Although Wesleyan has not had a chief financial officer since Dr. Barry Pritts retired, controller Randy Crites has been performing many of those necessary functions.

“I’m confident that the finances have been kept in good order,” McKinney said. “The president, Dr. Joel Thierstein, is well versed in finance. The two of them have been able to fill that gap very well, and that is a very positive thing that they have done a great job.”

McKinney is spending his first weeks on the job visiting people on campus.

“I started out my career after college as an auditor with Ernst and Young,” he said. “I still have that auditor mentality. I’m not a micromanager, but at the same time in these early days and weeks I’m going to be spending a lot of time visiting with people on campus.”

McKinney said he will also look forward to the start of school in August and tries to eat in the cafeteria at lunch to get to know the campus community.

“I’m really everybody’s CFO associated with the institution,” he said. “We have to deliver on the promise that we are making to students that coming to WVWC will change their lives for the better.”

McKinney earned his Ed.D. and Ed.S. with a concentration in education leadership from Lynchburg University, according to a press release. He received his MBA from Appalachian State University. 

McKinney is also a graduate of the College Business Management Institute in Lexington, Ky. and holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Duke University and a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from the Lily Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.


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