Jennifer Gantz, the vice president for finance and administration at Newman University, is a recipient of the Wichita Business Journal 2017 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) award.
An awards ceremony hosted by the Business Journal was held on March 9 at the Hyatt Regency Wichita. The 19 area recipients of the CFO award were invited to attend the luncheon as the guests of honor. They were then individually recognized onstage by Wichita Business Journal Editor Bill Roy for their work making their companies better.
“People often associate CFOs as being people who say, ‘no you can’t do this’ or ‘no, you can’t do that,’” Gantz said. “It’s nice to know that even when you have to say ‘no’ sometimes as the CFO, people still appreciate the work that you do.”
Gantz started her career in public accounting with a job at the Independent School in Wichita. After six years of working as the CFO, Gantz was interested in teaching an accounting course. She noticed that Newman was looking for someone to fill the job she had at the time, and after learning more about the university and its mission she decided Newman was where she wanted to be.
“For me, I am where I am because of my experience with school,” Gantz said. “Being a part of something where I know we are trying to empower graduates to transform society, especially right now, is very important to me.”
Gantz’s role at Newman includes a range of responsibilities, such as overseeing the Newman Business Office, Human Resources, Security, Food Service, Maintenance, Facilities, the NU Bookstore and Telecommunications.
“Sure, I handle the books and do the accounting, but for me being a part of something bigger is so much more important.”
Gantz said that while being talked about onstage was a little embarrassing and uncomfortable at first, it was an honor to be recognized alongside the class of people who also received the award.
Gantz personally knows two of her fellow awardees, CFO Don Wiesner at Starkey, Inc. (who was previously controller at Newman), and Vice President of Finance Marsha Bewersdorf at Friends University. Vicki Bergkamp, ASC, Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, and several ladies from the Newman Business Office attended the luncheon alongside Gantz.
In a recent article published by the Wichita Business Journal, Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. said that, “Jennifer is a great mentor to the junior staff in the Business Office, and her cabinet colleagues respect her tremendously for her competence and her collaborative approach. I have honestly never known a college or university CFO who has developed such positive relationships with all the varied stakeholder groups.”
For the past several weeks, Gantz has received congratulatory notes from several colleagues, vice presidents and various people in the community. A neighbor even posted a kind message on “Nextdoor,” an app that connects members of her neighborhood and others in the general vicinity.
“My kids were really excited and thought it was neat to have their names in the paper,” Gantz said. “They kept asking me, ‘So, who actually won, Mom?’ and I answered that, ‘There are 20 people, honey. There were 20 winners.’ Then they would say, ‘No really, Mom. Who was the real winner? Who was the number one winner?’ Trying to explain this to my kids was pretty amusing."
Gantz added, "One of the best parts about it is that I get the chance to connect with people I haven’t talked to in a while,” she said. “Everyone has been very sweet about it and it has been very nice across the board.”