After serving a nearly five-month term as interim vice president for finance, Tim Walsh will assume the position officially, effective immediately, the University announced Tuesday.
Since his arrival at Duke in 2004, Walsh has served as assistant vice president and controller for finance and has overseen Duke’s largest division of central finance. As vice president for finance, Walsh will be responsible for financial components across the University and the Duke University Health System, including accounting, reporting and other financial functions.
“The transition has been great,” Walsh said of his recent role as interim vice president. “I obviously had existing contacts from my work here over the past six years... and we have an outstanding team of professionals in finance on whom I was able to rely for support.”
Walsh replaces former vice president for finance Hof Milam. Milam left the post in December to become senior vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer at Wake Forest University.
During the search for a replacement, the University hired a consultant to conduct a three-month national search, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask said. The University considered approximately 100 people—all of whom, except for Walsh, were external candidates, Trask noted.
“In the end, it seemed clear to me that [Walsh] was the best choice given what Duke needs right now,” he said, adding that administrators desired a candidate who “understands how Duke works under a period of some stress.”
Throughout the past seven years, Walsh has overseen projects such as the Duke Administrative Reform Team, which found ways to save the University more than $60 million annually in recent years. He has also worked on financing the University’s international activities and increasing transparency through a monthly reporting process of the University’s financial performance. Walsh has also recently served as chair of the Research Administration Continuous Improvement initiative, which supervises the University’s $800 million research enterprise component.
Walsh said his biggest challenge as vice president for finance will be to balance the University’s many diverse priorities, including its administrative research practices, its academic missions and the growth of the University health system.
“We have to support all three of those missions every day,” he said. “They all have their unique priorities and we have to help them achieve them.”
Walsh added that the University has effectively used technology in its core business processes—a practice it should continue to utilize in the future. He noted that the University has, for example, established an imaging system which was able to eliminate “millions of pieces of paper each year.”
Milam said he applauds Duke’s decision to hire Walsh, adding that he has strong organizational skills and was effective while working with DART.
“It was a huge project that was critical to dealing with the budget gap at Duke, and it required an unbelievable amount of coordination, analysis and patience,” he said. “It was a very challenging project.”
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Walsh added that his experience leading DART was important because it emphasized the need to develop relationships across Duke.
“We don’t want to operate as independent silos, we want to operate as a single University,” he said. “Duke is uniquely positioned to collaborate. We want to build on the existing relationships across Duke in order to maximize the positive outcomes for our faculty, staff and students.”