Fairfield University welcomes Julie Dolan, the new vice president for finance

by Carolyn Arnold ’05

Julie Dolan, the new vice president for finance and treasurer, is no stranger to the financial workings at an institution of higher learning. Indeed she is the perfect fit for her new role at Fairfield, where she plans to continue its legacy of healthy fiscal support of the University’s strategic plan.

Dolan came to Fairfield in July 2010 to fill the position left by William J. Lucas ’69, who retired after 41 years of service to the University. Prior to her position at Fairfield, Dolan was associate vice president for fiscal affairs at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

Lucas established a tradition of fiscal integrity that helped the University to grow, and the Fairfield community sought a successor who would understand the vital role that the finance department played at the University.

When the University announced the selection of Dolan, President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. said, “Because of this moment in the evolution of Fairfield University, and with the economic challenges that we face in the coming years, a vice president for finance with comprehensive and sophisticated financial expertise and a proven record of leadership in higher education is essential if we are to achieve the ambitious goals that we have set for ourselves as a community. I am delighted that Ms. Dolan has agreed to join us and bring her extensive experience, as well as her collegial spirit, optimism, and energy, to our University.”

As vice president, Dolan is responsible for the accounting and financial reporting functions, as well as the management of computing services and human resources. Ultimately, her office is meant to provide an environment that is secure and encourages the accomplishment of the academic mission.

It sounds like quite an undertaking, but Dolan has the qualities to ensure success. “I’ve been in this field for my whole career,” she said. “This is what I do,” she added cheerfully.

Her professional career includes work at both large and small universities, showcasing Dolan’s familiarity with how academic institutions operate. Prior to Dartmouth, she served as the director of operations at Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. From 1995 until 1999, she served as assistant dean of finance in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and then as acting associate dean. From 1989 to 1995, she held a series of posts at Tufts University, including manager of financial analysis and assistant director of the Office of Financial Planning and Budget.

It’s clear that Dolan has the experience to contribute a lot to Fairfield. She was interested in the position because, “it was a chance to bring my talents and experience to an institution that is continually moving up.” It also gave her an opportunity to work in new fields such as human resources and information technology.

After all of her years in higher education, there is still no other field in which she would want to use her talents. Dolan knew early on that she wanted to work in higher education. “It’s what I consider my calling and vocation,” she said.

Preferring a career in finances for universities over finances on Wall Street, Dolan was a political science major at Stanford University where she took many education and public policy classes. Once she graduated, she began working for small nonprofits dedicated to education.

Soon, she decided that she wanted to build her career at higher education institutions. “I found that I really liked the finance side of higher education and thought that the best thing to do would be to get an MBA and apply those skills to a university setting.” To accomplish this she went to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she focused her MBA on public policy.

Dolan began her duties at Fairfield over the summer and reports that she is happy with her new community. “Everyone has been warm and welcoming,” she said. “It’s been really fun to get to know all of the people I’ll be working with.”

The transition to the state of Connecticut has also gone smoothly for Dolan. Although she noted that life in Connecticut is a bit different from life in New Hampshire (there are fewer trees and more cars in Connecticut!) she’s excited to live in a ‘zone six’ state instead of ‘zone four’ New Hampshire. “I expect to be growing a lot of tomatoes here, which are hard to grow in Hanover because of the cold,” she explained.

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