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NACUBO Awards Recognize Excellence in Higher Education Business Leadership


(Orlando) – For their outstanding contributions to higher education, seven business and finance leaders and two universities have received awards from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).

The 2022-23 NACUBO Awards pay tribute to individual and institutional excellence in higher education business and financial management, as well as sustainability practices. Honorees were recognized at the NACUBO 2023 Annual Meeting in Orlando and at events held throughout the academic year.

“The NACUBO Awards shine a spotlight on exceptional leaders the entire sector can learn from,” said Kara D. Freeman, NACUBO president and CEO. “We are honored to recognize these outstanding individuals and institutions and thank them for their unwavering commitment to higher education business, finance, and sustainability.”

2023 Distinguished Business Officer Award
Joanne DeStefano received the 2023 Distinguished Business Officer Award for her extensive contributions to higher education. She recently retired from her role as executive vice president and chief financial officer at Cornell University, where she worked for 33 years. As CFO, DeStefano led a team of about 1,700 staff members and managed a broad portfolio that included budgeting and financial planning, facilities, public safety, risk/compliance/audit, and investments.

2023 Service to NACUBO Award
Sherri Newcomb, senior advisor to the senior vice president of business affairs/chief financial officer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, received the 2023 Service to NACUBO Award for her extensive contributions to the association. Newcomb served on NACUBO’s Board of Directors from 2016-2019, as well on as the Analytics Advisory Group, Technology Council, and meeting planning committees, among others.

2023 Rising Star Award
Katie Walker, executive director for financial planning and analysis at the University of Virginia (UVA), received the 2023 Rising Star Award in recognition of her high potential to succeed as an executive and business officer in higher education. As a leader on UVA’s finance team, Walker partners with internal and external stakeholders to provide objective, accurate, and timely information, analyses, and decision-support tools. Walker also is an active participant in NACUBO, serving on the Planning, Budgeting, and Analytics Forum Planning Committee and is a graduate of the Emerging Leaders Program.

2023 Daniel D. Robinson Accounting Award
Shea Bryant, manager, financial analysis and reporting at Michigan State University (MSU), received the 2023 Daniel D. Robinson Accounting Award for his leadership and continuous commitment to college and university accounting and reporting. In addition to his leadership at MSU, Bryant is a frequent presenter at NACUBO events and has served on the Accounting Principles Council since 2021.

2023 Student Financial Services Award
Chris Cook, executive director of the Vanderbilt University Office of Student Accounts, received the 2023 Student Financial Services Award for his extensive contributions to his institution, the profession, and NACUBO. At Vanderbilt, he oversees the accounts receivable and cash management functions and helped to lead the institution’s transition to cashless operations. Cook also served on the NACUBO Student Financial Services Council for five years.

2023 Rodney H. Adams Endowment Management Award
Charmel Maynard, associate vice president, chief investment officer, and university treasurer at the University of Miami, received the 2023 Rodney H. Adams Endowment Management Award for his outstanding contributions to professional development activities in university endowment and investment management. Maynard leads his university’s investment of assets, including endowment and pension funds, and oversees the university’s capital structure and treasury and cash management.

2022 Tax Award
Jodi Kessler, director of tax and global operations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received the 2022 Tax Award in October for her outstanding commitment to the higher education tax community through participation in NACUBO’s advocacy efforts and educational programs. Kessler is a member of NACUBO’s Tax Council and the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Committee, among other volunteer efforts.

2023 Excellence in Sustainability Award
Two universities received the 2023 Excellence in Sustainability Award, which recognizes institutions for a specific campus innovation, process, or program that advances environmental sustainability in higher education or progress toward a more environmentally sustainable future.

Colorado State University (CSU) received the 2023 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its CSU Spur campus. Completed in January, the campus has three buildings that were designed to LEED Gold standards and serve to model, test, and motivate conservation practices and technologies. Work on the campus focuses on human and animal health, food production, and water conservation and education.

Michigan State University received the 2023 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center, a LEED Gold-certified facility with a mission to use waste as a resource through an integrated system of reuse, recycling, collaboration, and education. In 12 years, the facility has diverted 150 million pounds of waste from landfills and has returned an estimated $28 million in value to the institution by selling surplus items and recyclable materials, as well as by reducing waste disposal fees.

NACUBO Awards are 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. For more information, visit


Katy McCreary

Director, Public Relations