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2021 NACUBO Awards Honor Excellence in Higher Education


(Washington, DC)–In recognition of their outstanding contributions to higher education, six business and finance leaders and one university have received 2021 NACUBO Awards from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

NACUBO's annual awards recognize individual and institutional excellence in higher education business and financial management and were presented virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In a year in which we couldn’t physically congregate as an association of members, it’s vitally important to recognize business officers and institutions who can inspire us with their dedication to business and financial management, even from afar,” said NACUBO President and CEO Susan Whealler Johnston. “We are grateful for all these leaders have given to NACUBO and to higher education at large.”

NACUBO is pleased to recognize the following meritorious individuals and institution:

2021 John D. Walda Pathfinder Award
This year, NACUBO’s highest honor, the John D. Walda Pathfinder Award, was conferred. Since its inception in 2012, the award has only been given twice, following an inspiring career of dedication to higher education business management. NACUBO’s board voted to honor the late John Palmucci, Jr., who served in higher education leadership roles for more than 45 years at institutions including Merrimack College, Northern Essex Community College, Northeastern University, Loyola University Maryland, and Valparaiso University. Palmucci’s leadership roles included service on the NACUBO board and the association’s National Campus Safety and Security Project steering committee, and he received the 2003 NACUBO Distinguished Business Officer Award, among other accolades.

2021 Distinguished Business Officer Award*
David Wheaton, who recently retired after nearly 20 years as vice president for administration and finance at Macalester College, received the 2021 Distinguished Business Officer Award, which honors an exemplary leader who has had a significant positive impact on advancing business and finance administration in higher education and on NACUBO. Wheaton oversaw all of Macalester College’s financial functions, in addition to facilities management, human resources, business services, and neighborhood and community relations. He also was active on institutional committees as well as in regional efforts to support liberal arts colleges.

2021 Service to NACUBO Award*
Dawn Rhodes, senior vice president and chief business and finance officer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, received the 2021 Service to NACUBO Award for her extensive contributions to the association’s professional development programs and publications. Rhodes has served on the NACUBO board and is active in the association’s professional development programs, including the NACUBO Fellows Program and Future Business Officers Program, and on the NACUBO Advisory Group on Leadership Diversity’s Committee on Leaders of Color.

2021 Daniel D. Robinson Accounting Award
Sharon Heinle, associate vice president and controller at George Mason University, received the 2021 Daniel D. Robinson Accounting Award in recognition of her leadership and continuous commitment to the advancement of college and university accounting and reporting. In addition to her leadership at George Mason, Heinle chairs the NACUBO Accounting Principles Council and is the NACUBO representative on the AICPA Not-for-Profit Expert Panel.

2021 Student Financial Services Award
Judith Flink received the 2021 Student Financial Services Award for her career-long dedication to the profession. She served as director of student financial services and cashiering operations at the University of Illinois at Chicago and executive director of university student financial services and cashier operations for the University of Illinois System, among other positions. Flink was active in advocacy efforts, testifying in front of Congressional committees on student financial aid issues and serving as a liaison to federal agencies.

2021 Rodney H. Adams Endowment Management Award
Bill Jarvis, Bank of America Private Bank's managing director and philanthropic executive, received the 2021 Rodney H. Adams Endowment Management Award for his extensive contributions to growing and sharing knowledge in the field. During his tenure as executive director of the Commonfund Institute, Jarvis led a partnership with NACUBO on an annual study of endowments, and he has been a frequent presenter at NACUBO programs on endowment management.

2021 Excellence in Sustainability Award*
The University of Arizona has received the 2021 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its Compost Cats program, which has diverted more than 20 million pounds of food and green waste from local landfills over the last 10 years and is committed to increasing food security and access to healthy food. Compost Cats operates a large-scale composting program in partnership with the City of Tucson and maintains an organic garden that composts leftover food from community members, among many other sustainability initiatives.

*These 2021 awards were supported in part by a generous sponsorship from Huron Consulting.


NACUBO, founded in 1962, is a nonprofit professional organization representing chief administrative and financial officers at more than 1,700 colleges and universities across the country. NACUBO works to advance the economic vitality, business practices, and support of higher education institutions in pursuit of their missions.


Katy McCreary

Director, Public Relations