The Office of the Controller is responsible for the accounting and financial reporting of Northwestern University, providing a wide range of financial services on behalf of and for the University community. Financial accounting and reporting duties at the University are complex and significant. Northwestern operates with an annual budget exceeding $2.0 billion, total investments in excess of $15.1 billion (representing one of the largest endowments in the country), more than $893.4 million in research awards, and total long-term debt outstanding of $2.4 billion. The University has more than 22,000 students enrolled in 12 colleges and schools on three campuses. Its fiscal year ends August 31.
The Controller’s Office works diligently as a team to cultivate a positive culture and mindful work environment. Its scope of work directly supports the education and research mission of the University. A mindset of stewardship, professional excellence, and a customer-service orientation are valued across the team.
Reporting directly to the Controller, the Assistant Controller will be responsible for overall direction of university financial accounting, aspects of accounting operations, and financial reporting. Key objectives and responsibilities of the Assistant Controller include:
Supervision of Investments, Endowment, and Gifts team within Accounting Services:
Directs Accounting Manager. Manager is responsible for overall management of gift, endowment, and investment accounting; research, interpretation and recommendations for technical accounting standards, regulations, and requirements that impacts University reporting; supporting the preparation, review, and consolidation of quarterly and annual financial statements and corresponding footnotes and disclosures; as well as review, preparation and/or contribution to planned and ad hoc analyses and forecasts provided to management and the Board.
Provide leadership and direction to accounting professional staff across functions including gift, endowment, investments, and aspects of tax, internal controls and policies.
Anticipation of changes in laws, rules, regulations, and standards impacting higher education. The Assistant Controller must be well-versed in current accounting rules and sensitive to trends. She or he will engage as an active participant in networks of Controller colleagues at other universities.
Significant contributions to development, preparation, and review of planned and ad hoc analyses and forecasts provided to management and the Board.
Responsibility for preparation and review of monthly, quarterly and yearend financial statements. Serves as a key audit liaison.
Performance of tax-related duties, including serving as a university tax resource, developing planning, policy and procedure related to tax, preparation and analysis of Form 990 (including continuous process improvement), oversight and coordination of other federal, state and local filings as designated, analysis of UBI and other revenue considerations, and bond compliance
Service as key coordinator for employee loan program, collaborating with school administration, the Office of General Counsel, and the University’s external tax accountants
Responsibility for ST/LT planning: operational improvements, responses to financial reporting changes, professional development of staff and cross-training, and collaboration with other units to provide better services.
Development of policies and procedures for accounting operations and transaction processing and reporting for compliance with special reporting requirements. Develops communications about accounting forms, and training materials for university business staff on financial forms and transactions. Applies industry and professional standards, interprets University policy and procedure, federal or state laws, and other regulations, and recommends accounting policy.
Design of new accounting policy and procedures required by system implementations, including internal controls.
Support for Controller initiatives by providing tactical and strategic advice.
Manages more than one university accounting-related area or program
Manages daily, monthly, quarterly and annual financial processes for the area or program.
Applies industry and professional standards, interprets university policy and procedure, federal and state laws and other regulations; recommends accounting policy for the university.
Represents &/or guides business area on internal & external financial affairs & is viewed as an expert resource regarding area's financial affairs.
Analysis, Statements & Reporting:
Measures individual net performance of all areas/units as well as consolidated area/unit income statement & balance sheet with the use of pre-defined analytical financial tools.
Recommends changes to tools to improve analysis, forecasting, modeling & reporting & ultimately quality of financial information & analyses provided to management for planning, evaluating & controlling operations.
Establishes proper accounting & audit trails for revenue & expenses related to programs & initiatives.
Oversees monthly reconciliation & reports on current financial performance, impact on year-end forecast & opportunities & risks.
Prepares area or program financial statements and regulatory reports.
Acts as a key contact for external auditors; prepares financial statement and audit work papers.
Prepares sections and takes the lead on the compilation of the university's annual financial report.
Performs complex financial account reconciliations, statement analysis, and transaction research
Ensures compliance of financial processes & systems including the implementation & monitoring of financial controls & training of managers with financial responsibilities in accordance with all associated NU, local, state & federal rules & regulations.
Manages completion of annual fiscal year-end close.
Coordinates with Budget Office & other schools/depts for proper recording of cross school/dept transactions.
Prepares consolidated financial statement to report final net position; & partners with Budget Office to provide variances from expected performance.
Oversees processing of all daily financial transactional activity.
Reviews status of related university unit accounts and processes; troubleshoots issues as needed.
Contributes to University general ledger chart field maintenance
Identifies current & future resource planning & allocation issues & develops, leads, & supervises complex studies & analyses that will assist senior staff in reaching resource planning and allocation decisions.
Processes & presents associated data & information through the application of sophisticated database, graphic & spreadsheet tools.
Acts as project manager for design and implementation of regulatory and system changes.
Ensures that service level goals are met.
Provides training and support to related university units or program participants
Develops and maintains website content and training materials
Evaluates employees' performance
Provides work direction to other employees
Performs other duties as assigned.
Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree in a major such as accounting, business administration, finance, or related; OR appropriate combination of education and experience.
Five years senior accounting responsibility and two years supervisory and/or auditing experience.
Minimum Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities.)
Excellent computer skills including proficiency in the use of spreadsheet, database and word processing software.
Strong understanding of financial reporting.
Familiarity with FASB Accounting Standards Codification requirements.
Familiarity with external audit process.
Strong analytical skills and ability to walk from ‘big data’ to high level reporting concepts.
Ability to manage shifting priorities for self and team. Well organized and able to ensure deliverables are met on time and anticipates implementation or workload issues.
Experience setting a tone and expectation of excellence, continual improvement, and strong customer service.
Intellectually inquisitive: knowledgeable and about and open to leading changes and continuous process improvement
Strongly prefer Big 4/public accounting experience and/or CPA-Certified Public Accountant
MBA or a master’s degree in accountancy
Experience or familiarity with accounting in non-profit private university environment
Familiar with drafting/editing financial statements and disclosures.
Experience advancing ideas from plan to results with processes that ensure input and feedback from campus constituents and superb listening and influencing skills
Northwestern University is a major private research university with 12 academic divisions located on three campuses in Evanston, Chicago, and Education City in Doha, Qatar. We have approximately 2,500 full-time faculty members, 17,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and over 5,700 full and part-time staff. Northwestern University combines innovative teaching and pioneering research in a highly collaborative environment. It provides students and faculty exceptional opportunities for intellectual, personal and professional growth.