Several years ago, Melvin F. Klinkner set a goal to become a university vice president for administration finance. On April 23 he set out to convince the campus community that he was the right person to fill the position at Northern Kentucky University.
“Why not shoot for the top,” Klinkner said of his long-term goal to become a vice president.
Klinkner, currently the Chief Financial Officer for Central Missouri State University, quickly pointed out that it wasn’t just being at the top that was important, but that the university “has to be the right fit.”
“I found exactly what I thought I would experience,” he said of NKU – a place that is moving forward to a great future with an innovative and entreprenueral atmosphere.
“You all can be very proud of NKU,” he said and added that he was impressed and excited by NKU’s five-year plan. “Very few (universities) have a strategic plan as specific as yours.”
The open meeting was the second in a series of four, set up by a search committee established to find a replacement for Mike Baker, who will retire this month. The new vice president for administration and finance will be responsible for overseeing business operations, the Department of Public Safety, Human Resources, Financial and Operational Auditing and Campus Planning, among others.
The other three candidates include Ken Ramey, current assistant vice president of NKU Business Operations and Auxiliary Services, who met with the campus community on April 15; Abdul Nasser, former vice president for Finance and Administration Services at Central Michigan University, who was on campus April 28-29; and Ashok Dinghra, former vice president for Administration and Finance at the University of Nevada, Reno, who will be on campus May 5-6.
Gail Goedel, a clerk in the All-Card department said Klinkner left a good impression overall. ” He spoke very well and had a good sense of humor,” she said. “He has dealt with difficult times at other universities.”
A difficulty Klinkner has faced at Central Missouri State, which parallels the difficulties at NKU, is a budget crisis.
Right now CMS is in the midst of the worst budget crisis they have ever faced, Klinkner said. Last year brought the university a $6.2 million cut from the budget and this year brought a 10.8 percent base cut from the state.
Klinkner said the budget cuts brought with them the most difficult challenge he has faced in his career – letting some people go.
“I cried with them, to be honest,” he said. “It was the hardest thing [I] ever had to do.”
Although Klinkner said he didn’t deal directly with legislators while at Missouri, he said he is not afraid of that kind of thing.
“If you have a good plan and know what you want to say, it doesn’t matter who you’re talking to,” Klinkner said.
His advocacy for a good plan doesn’t stop at communication, but carries on into other areas of management as well. He said that he is in favor of a paper-free, automated accounting system for better organization of university documentation.
He also stressed a good plan to address the space crunch at NKU. He said the first step in any good plan is to “always make sure a problem is a problem.”
He said the first step in solving the space issue on campus would be to make sure every room is utilized efficiently with class size matching room size and making sure classrooms are used all day, with no empty hours.
The key, Klinkner said, is to see the vision of the university and work together, as a team, to find creative solutions.