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May 6, 2019 C-Suite Awards 2019

Goodwin College's Meyer maintains fiscal stability while enabling growth

Photo | J. Fiereck Photography

Category: Chief Financial Officer of the year

Edwin J. Meyer Jr.

Vice President of Finance, Goodwin College

Size of organization: $82.1 million in revenues

Education: Fairfield University, master's and bachelor's degrees in accounting

Previous job(s): UBS, AG — product controller, investment grade/index trading and corporate lending; PricewaterhouseCoopers — senior associate, assurance, investment management group

Goodwin College Vice President of Finance Edwin J. Meyer Jr. sees paths forward in situations that might scare off lesser finance experts.

When the Southington-based Lincoln College of New England opted last August to close its doors by December, Goodwin College in East Hartford agreed to welcome two-thirds of its 300 students for its fall semester and the rest in the spring.

Within a matter of weeks, students had to be enrolled at Goodwin, with the necessary financial aid and housing, said Ann Clark, newly retired executive vice president and provost (now provost emerita).

Though Goodwin has no dorms on campus, prior to the influx of Lincoln students, it did own about 200 vacant housing units in the surrounding community through a subsidiary of the college called Campus Realty. Goodwin, which today boasts 3,500 students, made those available and for the first time in its 20-year history became a residential college, Meyer said.

At the same time, Meyer said he ensured that the students remained in compliance with the federal financial aid processes while getting aid packages in place within about a month — all while reassuring his subordinates that the task was manageable.

Meyer made these adjustments with “good humor” and kept people “from panicking because it was such a disruption and had to be turned around on a dime,” Clark said.

Meyer, who lives in Wethersfield, received his bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting from Fairfield University.

The Windsor native — who is college President Mark E. Scheinberg's son-in-law, but reports to the executive vice president and provost — came to Goodwin College from UBS Bank in Stamford in 2013, where he had been a business unit comptroller.

“During Eddie's tenure, the value of the institution has more than doubled, operational surplus has increased, and the college has gone from sustainable to successful,” Scheinberg said.

Today, the institution is valued at $200 million in assets and rests “comfortably in the black year after year,” Scheinberg added.

“In the nonprofit world, if you don't operate like a business with clear metrics and don't have an intention of having a surplus, you're not going to be sustainable,” Scheinberg said.

Meyer achieves this delicate balance by being fiscally conservative, relying on his team's expertise, and knowing at all times how the college is doing financially.

“He has his fingers on the pulse of what's going on,” Clark said. “And the team he's built, they're not only good, strong employees, but they're devoted to him.”

Meyer supports development initiatives by working closely with two key employees he hired, Comptroller Bryan Soltis and Teresa Jylkka, senior director of finance. Together, they ensure that any major investments or decisions the college makes are fiscally sound. He also relies on general counsel and lawyers specialized in development to make sure projects are viable.

A $10 million advanced-manufacturing annex now under construction and due to be complete by Jan. 2020 will allow students from Connecticut River Academy High School to take advanced-manufacturing courses at the college.

Another project the college will be developing over the next two years is a $9 million mixed-use, commercially leased property at Ensign and Main streets, near the college's entrance, which will include retail and restaurants. A later phase will include student housing.

These projects, which involve acquiring properties in the surrounding area, fit into a master plan for the college to be a “a one-stop shop for a self-contained community,” Meyer said.

“You want the organizational infrastructure to be sustaining for years to come, so (the projects are) set up to protect risk, operations and the core functions of the college,” he said.

Although Meyer initially didn't think he'd stay at Goodwin College, perpetuating fiscal stability there has become a personal mission, he said.

“What makes my role so intriguing,” he explained “is working in the broad range of areas we operate in, whether it's real estate development (or) a food bank on campus for students. Everything is oriented toward our students and what the campus community might need.”

On the job

Guiding business principle: Keep it simple. Students always come first.

Best way to keep your competitive edge: Trusting in yourself and fellow team members

Best business decision: Surrounding myself with a team that believes in the mission and vision of Goodwin College.

Goal yet to be achieved: Execution of the Goodwin College master plan

Personal touch in your office: Generally speaking, I constantly remind those around me of my gratitude and appreciation for their incredible hard work and dedication to our students and mission.

Personal side:

City of residence: Wethersfield

Favorite way to relax: Spending time with my wife and three daughters

Hobbies: Soccer, golf and tennis

Last vacation: Ireland to visit my family

Favorite movie: “Bourne Identity”

The car you drive: Honda Pilot

Currently reading: “The Enneagram of Parenting,” by Elizabeth Wagele

Favorite cause: National MS Society

Second choice career: Professional soccer player or coach

Read more

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