Contact Washburned U
Mary Lou Herring, CPA
Phone: (785) 266-1610
I was Director of Finance/Controller at Washburn University from May, 2000 through June, 2002. In addition to this administrative position, I was an adjunct instructor of managerial accounting in Washburn University’s School of Business from Fall, 2000 through Spring, 2003.
Prior to working at Washburn University, I had three years of experience working in the public sector when I was an employee of the City of Des Moines in the Department of Aviation. It was there that I learned how public entities, as fiduciaries of public funds, are accountable to the public. I observed City Council and Aviation Board meetings. I was involved in developing agendas, board agenda items, and discussions related to the necessity of Board or Council approval. Although the Airport’s budget was primarily funded with user fees (similar to student tuition), all operating and financial matters were subject to public scrutiny.
Given my experience in public administration, I was caught off guard when I began working at Washburn University. Although the Board of Regents approved the construction contract for the Living Learning Center, change orders were not formally approved with Board of Regents actions. Monies were transferred from one fund to another without Board approval, discretionary transfers were made between operating and restricted funds depending on the nature of the transaction and where the monies were needed to cover the expenditure. While there was an operating budget, as long as the expenditures in total did not exceed the University budget, no one was held accountable for exceeding the budget for their particular department.
Because of the public accountability I experienced in Des Moines, Washburn University provided an uncomfortable working environment for me. Some have accused me of lacking respect for authority. In fact, as one who believed that the taxpayers paid my salary, I could not honestly hide behind the skirt of a Chief Financial Officer who flaunted, with the Chief Executive Officer’s knowledge, historical safeguards and procedures that were developed to ensure that the public’s trust was not jeopardized.
Juris Doctor, 1993
Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago IL
Masters in Business Administration, 1988
Roosevelt University, Chicago IL
Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, 1975
University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls IA