Stacy Lewis Daher is an experienced financial leader with a successful track record in asset management, finance, accounting, treasury, procurement, debt issuance and management, and financial planning roles at the University of San Francisco and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Transcript for Impact ’19: Stacy Lewis Daher:
Alan Olsen: I’m visiting here today with Stacy Lewis. She’s the Associate Vice President of Finance and Treasury at the University of San Francisco. Welcome to today’s show.
Stacy Lewis: Thank you.
Alan Olsen: So, Stacy, prior to coming into the university system, what was your experience?
Stacy Lewis: So, before I started working at the university, granted, this was a long time ago, 18 years ago, I’ve been there quite a while I was I did client service at Price Waterhouse Coopers. So, I was in the assurance area. So basically, I was auditor for four years. And then four years is a while for public accounting. So, I definitely wanted to try something new. So, I moved from St. Louis, Missouri, out to San Francisco, in January 2002, to the worst job market in history and landed a job at USF. And I’ve been there ever since.
Alan Olsen: On a daily basis, you’re dealing with finance and the overall operations for the university.
Stacy Lewis: Right?
How is education
changing today? I hear that the costs are going up, the enrollment is going down? What are some of the observations that you see that the biggest challenges?
Stacy Lewis: Yeah, I think, obviously, affordability for the students is a huge issue. , the cost of education is increased even at a higher rate than healthcare over the last several decades. But it’s not that we’re doing anything lavish, I think if you think about it, like what other industry do, you want to employ a lot of PhDs , and these are, high level employees, they demand a decent salary. And that’s basically a lot of our workforce. So, it’s obviously expensive. We have to, build dormitories, we have to have cafeterias, almost like a little city. And so, it’s not like there’s anything lavish there, it’s just really expensive to provide university education. But on the flip side, it’s getting more and more difficult, I think, for families to afford it. And we’ve seen the stories about, the student loan pending crisis. But we try to get the kids out in as close to four years as possible. So, then they don’t have that opportunity cost of, that your five and six when they’re not earning anything.
Alan Olsen: What’s the total enrollment in your school right now?
Stacy Lewis: Oh, boy, now I have to remember exactly, I think it’s around 12,000, I should know that off the top of my head. So, it’s a larger university,
Alan Olsen: Is it growing?
Stacy Lewis: We’re fairly stagnant. Um, we’re kind of landlocked in the city. So we don’t have a lot of areas for expansion. So, I’m not in seeing anticipating major growth, probably say, close to the same over the next five years.
Alan Olsen: When you see kids come out today, do you feel in your observation that they’re prepared for the world that we live in?
Stacy Lewis: That’s hard for me to answer because I’m not involved in the student’s day to day. Um, I think it’s hard to teach, obviously, someone to do a particular job in college or teaching them to build the skills and I guess, gain the judgment, so that when they’re out in the world, then they can use those skills really, across, multiple different professions that they might choose, I would say,
Alan Olsen: When you’re, when you’re going on a day to day routine, you’re primarily dealing with the admissions, your enrollment, the payment of bills, just basically keeping the engine the university going.
I’m more kind of financial strategy and investing on the endowment side, as well as the Treasury function of the university. So, we’re in a capital campaign right now. So, a big focus is growing the endowment. So that, we have more revenue
, income spinning off of it every year to help fund our operations, long term
Alan Olsen: Capital campaigns, are they hard to manage?
Stacy Lewis: Luckily, I don’t have to manage it. But um, yeah, I mean, there’s a whole profession of, people that do this for a living, they raise money. And that’s kind of their specialty. I don’t I kind of play more of a support role.
Alan Olsen: You’re basically the account to say, you hit your numbers and your benchmark,
Stacy Lewis: Right. And I’m really a fiduciary for when our Development Division raises money from a donor. Okay, what happens to it once it gets to the university, and are we investing it wisely? Are we using the money that the donor gave us the way they instructed us or wish us to use the money?
Alan Olsen: Okay, now this fact I know, you guys have done phenomenal with your investments of endowments?
Stacy Lewis: Yes, we have.
Alan Olsen: Ok Let’s talk about, let’s talk about the-
Stacy Lewis: And how did that?
Alan Olsen: Oh, you got a reputation? You got a very good reputation. So, let’s talk about approaches of how do you decide? Because it’s a fiduciary duty and you want to make sure you’re fulfilling your responsibility? Well, right. What are the what’s the process that you go through deciding to invest not to invest?
Stacy Lewis: Well, we have an investment committee, and we also have multiple people internal involved with myself, we have a consultant, investment consultant, there’s a CFO that’s also involved. So, we can kind of screen, come up with good ideas internally, we also get a lot of ideas from the Investment Committee, they have a lot of contacts in the Bay Area and, around the world. So, I think a lot of the success is listening to everyone and being open, not being scared to have, 70 venture capital funds that most universities are a size don’t have. And that I think helps contribute to our success.
Alan Olsen: Stacey, thanks for being on today’s show. I’ve been busy here today with Stacy Lewis. She’s the Associate Vice President of Finance and Treasury at the University of San Francisco.
Edited for Clarity
*Source: LinkedIn, Bio Adapted in Format
To receive our free newsletter, contact us here.
Subscribe our YouTube Channel for more updates.
This transcript was generated by software and may not accurately reflect exactly what was said.
Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of GROCO.com. GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.
Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio