August 31, 2009

Finance and Administration names new controller

A longtime Johns Hopkins employee with natural leadership abilities and demonstrated technical acumen has been tapped to be the university’s new controller.

Gregory S. Oler, a certified public accountant who previously served as the university’s director of General Accounting, began his new job last month. He succeeds Phil Tahey, who recently left the university after nearly four years as controller.

Michael Strine, university vice president for finance and treasurer, said that Oler brings just the right mix of skill and leadership to the position.

“He was far and away the leading choice over strong candidates, including those from leading higher education, nonprofit and private sector entities,” Strine said. “Greg’s strengths in leadership and technical knowledge were demonstrated to the broad and representative group across the university and health system.

“He simply rose to the top of the list,” Strine added. “He knows the financial rules and regulations. He’s a trained accountant. He has knowledge of Hopkins, and the fact that he was a favorite with Hopkins made his candidacy appealing.”

Oler said that he is both excited and overwhelmed by his new job.

“The size and complexity of Johns Hopkins, as well as the dedication and excellence of its employees, are staggering,” Oler said. “To be selected controller of such a fantastic and dynamic organization is an honor and a privilege.”

Oler’s promotion comes as the university’s Office of Finance and Administration continues to reorganize in the wake of tight economic times. In addition to Oler’s promotion, Strine has assumed a new role as university treasurer. He takes over that position from Art Roos, who, in the nearly three years that he held the post, strengthened the capacity of the Treasurer’s Office and provided critical services in investing, banking, and debt and risk management, Strine said.

Strine credits Roos with, among other things, affirming the university’s strong credit ratings and providing critical services in investing, banking, and debt and risk management. Roos recently left the university to pursue other projects.

Strine said that streamlining the Finance and Administration Office will allow the university to continue to deliver high-quality services in a more effective and efficient way while maintaining service levels.

Tahey, who agreed to take on the controller position for three years but stayed for nearly four, was much more than the keeper of the books, according to Jim McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration. He was a major contributor to the implementation and stabilization of the SAP software system now used throughout Johns Hopkins, and he dealt with a number of changes in federal accounting rules as he worked to keep the university in compliance, McGill said.

Both McGill and Strine praised Tahey and Roos for their service to the university.

“We appreciate deeply their contributions to Hopkins,” McGill said.

Looking ahead, Oler, in his new job, will work with fellow university administration members to continue efforts to deliver quality in a more streamlined capacity. Oler already has a running start. Before joining the university 16 years ago, he was employed by the international professional services firm KPMG Peat Marwick in Baltimore, where he spent nine years working on the JHU audit, including a period of time as its director. Oler also worked with a venture capital–backed software firm and with Marriott International, both in Montgomery County, Md.

Oler also brings to the table a successful relationship with the financial leaders in each of the university’s divisions, a relationship that both McGill and Strine said they consider critical to the university’s financial health.

“Nothing is more important to the controller’s success than maintaining relationships with those [the office] serves throughout the divisions, central administration, the health system, trustees and outside auditors,” Strine said. He added that his team’s highest priority will be to build on those relationships by listening to those entities’ needs and working to align the university and its priorities with the people it serves.”