Michael Masch’s accolades are plentiful and his methods efficient, which is why he is leaving Manhattan College to help the nation’s oldest and most prestigious historically black college.
Masch, who has spent two years acting as the vice president for finance and chief financial officer at the College, announced his plans to leave MC to work at Howard University last week, but not due to any displeasure with his current work place.
“I was not planning to leave,” he said, “They did a national search for a CFO and—to my surprise—approached me about the job.”
Howard University, which appointed a new president in July 2014, employed a national search firm to find the best financial professionals in higher education to be appointed to the new cabinet.
Howard’s new president, Wayne A. I. Frederick, Ph. D., is a triple alumnus of the university and inherits his alma mater at a time when it is in great financial need.
The New York Times reported last February on the issues that Howard—and Frederick, then interim president—faced.
At that time, Howard’s 16th president, Sidney A. Ribeau, retired suddenly amid financial trouble and disagreements with the board of trustees of the University. Federal funding to the historically black college had been cut and the Howard University Hospital had fallen on hard times.
“[The Hospital] serves a very poor, urban population and it has been very hard for them to balance their budget and their physician practices,” Masch said.
Masch worked at the University of Pennsylvania and spent the ten years prior to his tenure at Manhattan College working for the Philadelphia School District, City of Philadelphia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Howard and the new Frederick administration personally recruited him for his expertise in helping to save struggling financial institutions.
“That’s what I’ve done for the a lot of my career,” Masch said, “I was the budget manager for the City of Philadelphia when the city was almost bankrupt. I came in with the governor of Pennsylvania when they had a $2.4 million deficit. I came into the School District of Philadelphia when they had a $73 million deficit and all of those places, when I left had balanced budgets and surpluses.”
“Maintaining the long-term financial health of the University not only benefits Howard, it also benefits our faculty, staff, students and the broader communities that we serve around the world,” Frederick said in his announcement of Masch’s appointment. “With his extensive financial experience and business acumen, coupled with his extensive leadership experience in higher education, he is uniquely qualified to take on this new role.”
Brendan O’Donnell, president of Manhattan College, said he was sad to see Masch leave but was happy that it was for the cause of helping Howard regain solid financial footing.
“[Masch is] very good at what he does,” O’Donnell said, “and when you are good at what you do, people are looking for you all the time.”
Masch has announced his last day to be April 13, stating that the college has already found his replacement and that there will be a one-week training period before his departure.
Masch’s replacement will have to fulfill a number of duties, ranging from calculating student financial aid to managing the college’s near $75 million endowment.
His departure date of April 13, though, makes him the second member of administration—although the first that reports directly to the president—to leave in the middle of a semester.
The Quadrangle reported on the sudden resignation of Gabrielle Occhiogrosso in November.
While Masch’s situation is different, as he offered the College enough time to hire a replacement, it is an alarming trend.
“There’s probably never a good time to make the transition,” O’Donnell said, “but this isn’t actually a bad time, [Masch] is leaving after the annual board meeting, and then he is going to be here for a couple of weeks after that.”
The week before Masch leaves, he will be shadowed by his interim replacement, who could not be named due to contractual concerns, for a week allowing he or she to learn how the office functions.
“[Manhattan College] is a very stable, very sound institution,” Masch said, “I was able to inherit a well-managed institution as CFO and hopefully was able to build on what was done before.”