Campus & Community

Berman named VP for finance:

6 min read

Will advise on matters of financial strategy and resource allocation

Ann Berman

Ann E. Berman has been named vice president for finance and chief financial officer of the University, President Lawrence H. Summers announced on Monday (Feb. 3).

“I am very pleased to announce that Ann Berman has agreed to serve as the new vice president for finance and chief financial officer of Harvard University. She assumed the role of acting vice president in October 2002 and has brought to the role an impressive combination of financial expertise, analytical capabilities, strong management skills, and commitment to the academic mission of the University.”

“It has been very exciting working with President Summers and Provost Hyman on the financial affairs of the University,” Berman said. “When Larry asked me to think seriously about taking the position permanently, I realized that as much as I’d miss my colleagues in the FAS, particularly Dean Kirby and Dean Maull, this was a unique opportunity to serve the University at a crucial time. “Besides,” she laughed, “it is hard to say no to Larry when he presents logical and forceful reasons as to why something should happen.”

Berman joins the University’s senior management team and will advise Summers on all matters of financial strategy, policy, and resource allocation. She will have a challenging portfolio with primary responsibility for all aspects of the University’s financial administration with direct management of the offices of the assistant treasurer, financial systems, budget and financial planning, research and administration, risk management and audit services, and technology and trademark licensing. She will also serve as the University’s liaison to the Harvard Management Company (HMC), as an ex officio member of the HMC board.

Summers said: “She comes to the job with a deep understanding of the financial structure and operations of the University. She has a strong command of both accounting and financial issues and a proven track record of identifying issues and solving them. In her few months on the job, I have been impressed by Ann’s crisp and effective management of the University’s financial and budgeting processes. I am confident that she has the professional experience and personal qualities to help us achieve essential University-wide objectives. I very much look forward to continuing to work with Ann in this capacity.”

“There are many financial and strategic challenges for the University in the next several years, and I am excited about the opportunity to work with President Summers and Provost Hyman, and the senior management team in determining our direction,” said Berman. “In particular, as we focus on the future of our Allston campus, and develop important new initiatives in the sciences and in undergraduate education, I look forward to involving the financial community in managing our resources well and making it possible to realize our plans.

“Harvard is financially very strong today,” said Berman. “We are, however, also very conscious of the need to moderate expense growth so that we remain fiscally sound in the future. We’d like to be able to live within our means in the current fiscal climate without going through a period of painful cutbacks like those currently being endured at other research universities.

“That is a challenge, for the growth in spending, because of the long thought process and consensus-building that goes into deciding what we should be doing, often lags the growth in revenue, and 2002 was a period of growth for many Harvard faculties. Now that distributions from the endowment will rise only a percent or two for the foreseeable future, we have to ask each School, ‘Does your use of resources match your mission and your aspirations, and does it match the University’s aspirations?’”

Berman is well known to deans, faculty, and administrators within Harvard University. Since she arrived at the University in 1991, she was the highly regarded associate dean of finance for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from 1994 to 2000, and then senior adviser to the FAS dean from 2000 to 2002. As financial dean of the FAS, she worked closely with then-Dean Jeremy Knowles and Executive Dean Nancy Maull to return the FAS to a position of financial health and to develop strong financial management. From 1991 to 1994 she served as a financial planner and strategic consultant to the president of Radcliffe College. She has also been a volunteer at the Schlesinger Library doing archival work under the direction of Jane Knowles.

Berman is a C.P.A. and graduated in 1976 with an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in French literature from Cornell University (1974), where she graduated with distinction and was Phi Beta Kappa.

Prior to her career at Harvard, Berman worked for nearly 10 years in public accounting, first at Price Waterhouse and then as a partner at Richard A. Eisner & Co. in New York. Her special areas of expertise were taxation, restructuring, and financial analysis.

In 1986, Berman decided to retire from Eisner and pursue her long-standing interest in foreign languages. She did graduate work in Italian and Italian literature at Columbia and at New York University. She has translated from the Italian a major 17th century text about a utopian society. “I’d always wanted to be a translator, but didn’t like the job prospects that were offered to a French major, so I went to Wharton. I was very excited, however, when the opportunity arose to translate Citta del Sole. It was a difficult project but very worthwhile and interesting.

“One day, after my husband and I moved to Cambridge, I searched for my name in the Hollis catalog and there was a copy of the translation in Houghton Library. Harvard and the Harvard libraries are unique repositories of knowledge. For instance, the Harvard libraries have an unparalleled Italian collection. We must use our resources wisely to ensure that future generations of Harvard faculty and students have similar materials to pursue their scholarly research.”

Karen Mills ’75, M.B.A. ’77, an overseer of the University, said: “I have known Annie for more than 25 years. In addition to her impressive grasp of finance and accounting, she has the ability to translate that knowledge into valuable solutions to problems, and then to gently convince others to adopt those solutions. Additionally, her background in the FAS gives her a real depth of understanding about the Schools and their academic mission – a perspective on the University that is unique.”