September 21, 2023 – Partner-led executive search firm Buffkin / Baker has been retained by the Princeton Theological Seminary to lead in its search for a new chief financial officer. Leading the assignment is Martin M. Baker, managing partner, and Pelema Ellis, associate partner. The search appears to be in its final stages as the firm recently stopped taking new applications.
The CFO has responsibility for heading the seminary’s financial assets and serves as an advisor to the president and to the board of trustees on matters of financial planning and stewardship, budgeting, resource allocation, risk management, and information technology. According to Buffkin / Baker, the CFO will manage the assets of the seminary and maintain systems of internal controls to safeguard the physical, digital, and financial assets of the seminary. This leader will work collaboratively with the president and executive leadership team to develop and execute a long-range financial and capital plan that maintains the fiscal health of the institution and serves strategic ends.
The CFO will also be expected to ensure accurate and timely financial reporting that enables short- and long-term financial decision-making. This individual will play a key role in translating strategic ambitions into actionable financial and operational plans to enhance the seminary’s financial model and develop new revenue streams.
Princeton Theological Seminary wants a CFO with vision, a collegial style, integrity, and the drive to inspire new levels of excellence. Buffkin / Baker notes that the successful candidate will possess both the skills and the passion to play a key role in helping the seminary to realize the goals of its strategic plan. Candidates should have a strong understanding of, and passion for, the mission and values of the seminary and how they are central to the campus community.
Candidates must have significant leadership and financial management experience in a senior administrative capacity, preferably in higher education or in a related entity; evidence of strong organizational, analytical, and supervisory skills, including the ability to elicit trust and confidence; demonstrated ability to build and lead effective, diverse management teams; and experience with integrating financial and strategic planning. Knowledge of best practices throughout all financial and administrative functions is critical. Prospects should also have strong listening skills and the ability to communicate clearly, effectively, and collegially with a diverse range of both internal and external stakeholders; the ability to think creatively and strategically; and an understanding of the compelling mission, challenges, and opportunities for the seminary.
Princeton Theological Seminary, officially the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church, is a private school of theology in Princeton, NJ. Founded in 1812 under the auspices of Archibald Alexander, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), it is the second-oldest seminary in the U.S. It is also the largest of 10 seminaries associated with the Presbyterian Church.
Princeton Theological Seminary recently used AGB Search to recruit Jonathan Lee Walton as its eighth president. “Dr. Walton brings to Princeton Seminary indispensable experience in leading change at institutions that both value the gifts of tradition and also seek a future calling to serve as a resource to ever more diverse churches and communities,” said Eric D. Barreto, Frederick and Margaret L. Weyerhaeuser associate professor of new testament and a member of the presidential search committee. “His scholarly acumen, his love of Princeton Seminary, his prophetic posture, and his powerful preaching will help us discern how best to build on the good Princeton Seminary has done thus far and to imagine what is next for this seminary with so much to share in a changing world.”
Higher Education Specialists
Buffkin / Baker is a specialty boutique search firm composed of industry leaders in their respective fields and each has over a decade of retained search experience. Their focus as search professionals is to recruit leaders in digital marketing/advertising, technology, healthcare, media/entertainment, finance, higher education, and non-profit. The firm serves public, private, venture, and private equity-backed companies. Its office locations include Nashville, TN; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Winston Salem, NC, with affiliate offices in London.
Buffkin / Baker is a member of Panorama Search, an international federation of retained firms with 18 firms and over 30 offices globally. Buffkin / Baker formed in 2017 with the merger of the Buffkin Group and Baker and Associates LLC.
Buffkin / Baker has been called in to help find the next director of athletics for Middle Georgia State University (MGA) in Macon. The new AD search comes as the university is pursuing membership in the NCAA Division II and looks into the possibility of joining the Peach Bowl Conference. Leading the assignment are partner Kenn Carrick and principal Janny DeLoache. “Middle Georgia State University is in search of a director of athletics who pursues greatness on and off the field,” said Buffkin / Baker. “Reporting directly to the university president and serving on the president’s senior leadership team, the AD plays a pivotal role in the university’s future and growth. The AD spearheads the direction and leadership for a multi-campus, comprehensive, intercollegiate athletics program.”
Based in Winston Salem, NC, Mr. Baker has been in executive search for more than 22 years. In addition to his role as managing partner, he is also head of the firm’s higher education practice. He previously worked in the Atlanta office of Korn Ferry, where he developed search strategy and executed searches for numerous senior-level appointments. He began his career as a research associate with Saxton Bampfylde, an executive search and management assessment firm in London. He has conducted searches for the positions of CEO, CFO, CIO, provost, dean, director, and professor, having worked on over 350 searches throughout his career.
Dr. Ellis works within Buffkin / Baker’s higher education practice. He brings more than 20 years of experience in driving a strategic effort through a variety of roles in higher education. Previously, Dr. Ellis served as president at Great Bay Community College.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media