6:46 AM, January 4
Concord Bus, somewhere in Maine
Dear fellow Arts students,
Welcome to Winter 2014. I will post office hours once my academic schedule is settled (as I consider the prospects of straying from my home turf of math and philosophy to take CLAS 208: Introduction to Roman Literature). In the meantime, please read about my plans for the upcoming semester. If you have been following my communications since the start of my term as VP Finance, you will notice that my messages have been quite inconsistent. However, I feel that I have found my proper place and that the following plans best represent the needs of the AUS:
1: Improve our accounting practices. Upon recommendation of our auditors at Fuller-Landau, I will make multiple changes relating to our record keeping. These primarily involve reform in how we use our accounting software (QuickBooks), and the level of detail with which we report on our major events.
2: Increased communication with Arts students, especially AUS Council. As popular as the word ‘accountability’ is amongst us Arts students, there is no real demand for accountability of the VP Finance. This lack of demand often hurts my motivation to work as hard as I do. The following weaknesses need to be addressed:
I) Very few people are actually aware of AUS’ financial activity. Nobody asks questions–if Council is kept aware of our financial activity, members could provide useful input or initiate policies which benefit the AUS.
II) Financial Management Committee and the Department of the Internal Audit are not independent of the VP Finance. These committees should serve as both a check to the VP Finance, and as a channel through which other Arts students may use their talents and work ethic to benefit the AUS. I have already taken actions to address this, but their fruit is yet to be seen. The addition of a FMC representative to Council will allow for direct communication to Council, uncontrolled by the VP Finance. I have also increased the size of the DIA and delegated more authority to its director.
3. Focus on long term planning. As the AUS’ cash surplus grows each year, the question arises: what are our long term goals? In my mind there are two general types of strategies to consider. First, we could continue to grow our surplus. If we do this, then we must have some idea of how this money would eventually be spent. The strength of this strategy is that the AUS could eventually undertake a major project and survive even the most severe financial blow. The weakness is that Arts students will not get their full money’s worth out of their membership fees for the year. The other type of strategy would be to keep our surplus steady. We could either do a better job to achieve a net gain of $0 for the year, or we could gradually spend away some of our surplus until we reach a desired level and then maintain it there. The Financial Management Committee is currently discussing these options.
The following opportunities to be involved in my portfolio will be announced during the month of January:
Long-term financial planning
Arts Undergraduate Improvement Fund bylaw changes
Anybody interested in being involved in the VP Finance portfolio is encouraged to contact me. See you soon!