UF's CFO leaving for job at UNC Chapel Hill

Published: Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.

Matt Fajack, who helped devise a new budget management system to guide the University of Florida through five difficult years of budget cuts during a statewide recession, will step down as vice president and chief financial officer on June 6.

Fajack has accepted a bigger job with more responsibilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — as vice chancellor of finance and administration. Along with the financial responsibilities, Fajack also will oversee the real estate portfolio, the police department and construction among other areas under UNC's new chancellor.

“I wasn't looking to leave, but they called me,” Fajack said. “I'm nervous. I'll be managing some areas I never managed before.”

Michael V. McKee, assistant vice president and university controller, has been appointed as interim CFO while a nationwide search is conducted to find a replacement for Fajack, UF Provost Joe Glover said in a memo to administrators this week.

McKee has served as controller since 2003, Glover said. Prior to that he spent 19 years with the State Auditor General.

Glover said the administration will use a search firm and get the process going as quickly as possible. He said he'd like to have a pool of qualified candidates in the next couple of months and hopes to have a new CFO in place by the beginning of the fall semester.

Fajack was hired away from Kent State University in 2008 — around the same time President Bernie Machen ordered a shakeup of the administrative structure. Under the new structure, Fajack assumed oversight of the budgets formerly controlled by the provost, the senior vice presidents of the health science center and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Fajack then devised a formula to determine funding allocations based on how colleges met strategic priorities, called responsibility-centered management budgeting. “It took a lot of work getting that implemented, and there were some bumps,” Fajack said. “It was a huge change from the old methodology, and I hope the campus is used to it by now.”

Between 2007 and 2012, UF saw its state funding cut by $229 million, or 33 percent, with tuition increases closing the gap by $145 million.

Fajack came to UF midway through its first year of cuts, overseeing a budget reduction of $50 million that year. He last oversaw a campuswide $38 million budget cut plan in 2012.

“I think deans have the toughest job,” Fajack said. “Cost-cutting in my office is about numbers. Deans have to deal with people. It was tough going through five years of cost-cutting.”

Fajack also started the shared service centers initiative in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — a decision to move fiscal duties, human resources and grants from individual departments to a centralized center.

Fajack has been trying to rebrand that as Service Innovation.

“Certainly he will be a big loss, but you have to be prepared for people who move on to promotions,” Glover said. “The only way to be remembered is to do the work to pass it on. Hopefully, his successor will take the next step along the path.”

Fajack is leaving just as things are getting better financially. Last year, for the first time in years, the Legislature authorized an increase in funding for the current budget year. This year, the Legislature approved another increase for next year.

“The timing worked out that way. Things are getting better here,” Fajack said.

Fajack has been involved in a number of university and local organizations, serving on the boards of the Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics, the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Florida United Way.

His children go to the Lyceum Program at Lincoln Middle School and play baseball and lacrosse, and he coaches his son's baseball team.

“I love the Gainesville community, and I love UF,” Fajack said. “It was a hard decision, but in the end it was too big a career opportunity to pass up.”

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