November 22, 2013
Judy Marshall applies expertise, experience to budget
Maintaining the budget for an organization as large and complex as our university is no small task. We have a responsibility to everyone who supports SIU’s valuable work – students and families, our generous donors and friends, and the taxpayers – to be good stewards of our resources.
Thanks to Judy Marshall’s expertise and that of her staff, we do just that. As executive director for finance, it is her job to constantly monitor our $600 million annual budget. Judy and I talk frequently, assessing our current financial situation and trying to anticipate what the short- and long-term future will bring. Since my background is in accounting, we talk the same language. In essence, Judy is the accountant to the accountant.
A career involving numbers was not on Judy’s horizon when she graduated from high school in Effingham. In fact, she wasn’t much interested in going to college. But she had always loved newspapers, and she worked as a reporter at the Effingham Daily News for three years after high school. When she did decide to pursue a college degree, she came to SIU and tried a variety of majors, including journalism, plant and soil science, and economics.
Fortunately for us, she eventually settled on a degree in accounting, which she earned in 1983. She then was hired by the university as an accountant, and she has moved into positions of increasing responsibility throughout her career with us. In addition to the budget staff, Judy now oversees procurement services, accounting services, and the Center for Environmental Health and Safety.
That institutional knowledge, and her attention to detail, are incredibly valuable. Her passion for current events also helps us anticipate the future.
“I constantly watch statewide and national economic trends and how they might affect our budget,” she noted. “We are keeping a close eye on the pension discussions in Springfield because of the potential impact on our employees and our budget. At the federal level, though it does not impact us right now, we may have to meet certain higher education performance standards sometime in the future. I try to keep abreast of anything that could affect the university.”
In our conversations, Judy doesn’t tell me what I want to hear; she tells me what I need to hear. We share the belief that while this may be a university, we must apply sound business principles to ensure students, faculty and staff have adequate resources.
We also know that not everyone speaks the language of accountants. Judy is very adept at explaining the budgeting process to individuals and groups around the campus. I am a firm believer in transparency, because the more our faculty and staff know about the budget, the better decisions they will make.
“I try to take a complicated process that, if you’re not familiar with it, can seem daunting, and present it in such a way that it can be understood,” Judy explained. “We are trying to do a better job sharing the process, the fundamentals behind the process, why we do what we do. We want this to be more user-friendly.”
The more she meets with faculty and staff, the more they realize that with Judy, SIU is in very capable hands.