CORVALLIS - Robert M. Specter, vice president and chief financial officer at Montana State University since 1994, has been named to vice president for finance and administration at Oregon State University.
He succeeds W. Lee Schroeder, who left the position last year to work in OSU's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Mark McCambridge, the university's director of business services, has served as interim vice president for the past year. Under McCambridge's leadership, a set of financial systems and controls were implemented which have resulted in better controls and timely financial reports for the university.
As vice president for finance and administration at Oregon State, Specter will serve as the university's chief business officer, and oversee the offices of Budgets and Planning, Business Affairs, Business Services, Facilities Services, and Human Resources.
During the past three years, OSU has met and overcome several fiscal challenges, while still maintaining a positive fund balance. Budget constraints were created by calculated investments, costs shifted to OSU and other institutions by the Oregon University System, and insufficient financial controls in two departments. For the first time in four years, however, the university expects to increase its fund balance for the upcoming fiscal year.
OSU President Paul Risser said that Specter's experience will help the university adapt to the Oregon University System's newly adopted funding model and accelerate the pay-back plans of the departments that are working their way out of deficit positions.
"This is a new era for higher education in the state of Oregon, and Rob has experience with funding formulas in three different state systems," Risser said. "That kind of experience is invaluable."
In addition to overseeing OSU's budget, Specter will supervise the university's facilities at a time when two of the largest construction projects in recent years are under way. Expansion of The Valley Library, a $40 million project, will make that facility one of the most technologically advanced university libraries in the western U.S. Construction of a new, $24 million forest research laboratory, about half completed, will enable the OSU to expand its internationally recognized forestry research capabilities.
"Oregon State has made great strides recently and has a bright future," Specter said. "Enrollment will be up substantially this fall, adding to the university's revenue, and new leadership has emphasized tight fiscal constraint and firm budget oversight."
At Montana State, Specter was responsible for budgets and planning, information technology, planning and construction, human resources, business services, and the physical plant. During his tenure, MSU built 48 new family housing units, two "suite-style" residence halls, a new engineering and physical science building, began construction on an agricultural bio-science building, and made $20 million in renovations to the football stadium and basketball arena. The university also completed a $27 million renovation of its underground infrastructure, including concrete utility tunnels and fiber-optic wiring.
Securing funding for the variety of projects needed by a major university is a constant challenge, Specter said.
"I've been involved in the development of private and federal funding for several years," he said. "Higher education clearly has a need to develop funding sources in addition to the state."
Before joining the administration at Montana State, Specter served from 1992-94 as director of the business and finance division of the public university system in Iowa. Working for the Iowa Board of Regents, he served as senior finance officer for the system, which included three campuses, a medical center, a research park, and schools for the deaf and blind.
He also worked as assistant budget director at Northern Arizona University, and for five years was senior financial associate with the Arizona Board of Regents.
A native of Erie, Penn., Specter is a 1981 graduate of the University of Rochester. He has a master's in geology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and an MBA in finance from Arizona State University.
"I'm looking forward to coming to OSU," Specter said. "The quality of the faculty and staff is very impressive. I understand the nature of the challenges facing Oregon State, and am ready to help move the university forward." He will begin his new duties on Oct. 19.