Posted: Friday Nov 11, 2011
Saint Vincent College Vice President of Finance and Administration and Treasurer Dennis P. Thimons has been named the winner in the non-profit category of the Pittsburgh Business Times Chief Financial Officer of the Year Competition for 2011.
“Mr. Thimons’ extensive professional accomplishments, ethical character and unwavering commitment to the students and community we serve uniquely qualified him for the CFO of the Year honor,” commented Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., president of Saint Vincent College. “He has an important role in my President’s Council and is generous in sharing his talents and experience with the broader community.”
“Many financial officers are skilled accountants and business planners,” Br. Norman continued. “It takes an exceptional person to effectively handle the financial affairs of an institution and to also represent our core values. Mr. Thimons is a special individual whose style of leadership and decision-making are reflective of the values of the institution. Those who work with him trust that financial decisions will always support the mission of the College. It gives a sense of honor to all that we do.”
Mr. Thimons, who has been CFO at Saint Vincent since 2007, says he is humbled to be recognized for his service to an institution he loves and for work he enjoys. “I chose accounting as a major at Duquesne University many years ago because it fit my personality. I always strive to do my very best,” he explained. “I have worked for three organizations during my career – the Pittsburgh Steelers, Shady Side Academy and Saint Vincent College, all fantastic organizations with great people and a commitment to excellence,” he said. “Of all of the aspects of the work, it is the interaction with people every day that I enjoy the most.”
“I was very fortunate to begin my career out of college with the Steelers,” Mr. Thimons noted, “especially because I started in 1974 when the Steelers began their drive toward four Super Bowl championships. I was only 22 years old and probably did not fully comprehend the magnitude of what was accomplished.”
A desire to spend more time with his family led to a move to Shady Side Academy in 1988. “It was a difficult decision but I didn’t want to travel as much,” he recalled. “Shady Side is a top notch independent school with very high standards.”
After nearly 20 years, he had an opportunity to move to higher education with Saint Vincent College in 2007 and decided it was the right opportunity to complete his career. “I knew Saint Vincent well given that both of my sons are graduates,” Mr. Thimons explained, “Saint Vincent is a college with high values, a commitment to the Catholic faith. I also enjoy our ongoing relationship with the Rooney family and the Pittsburgh Steelers summer training camp. I have enjoyed serving Saint Vincent so much because of my interaction with a distinguished Board of Directors, Archabbot Douglas, Brother Norman and great faculty and staff.”
As Vice President of Finance and Administration, Mr. Thimons oversees all finances, investments and facility management. His accomplishments at Saint Vincent include financial oversight of the $39 million capital project to expand and renovate the science center facilities including negotiation and supervision of contracts, monitoring cash flow position and securing bridge financing. He also serves as the project administrator for a multi-million dollar government grant.
Other accomplishments include participating in the strategic implementation of a campus-wide database system that will integrate a diverse array of administrative and academic departments, initiation of a multi-year budgeting system for long-range planning, participating in the campus master planning process, establishment of an emergency aid fund to assist students and their families severely affected by the economic recession and enhanced communication among faculty and staff.
Beginning this fall, Mr. Thimons entered the classroom as an instructor in management accounting where he is helping to prepare the next generation of financial professionals with the skills and experience to succeed.
What is the biggest challenge he faces as a CFO of a liberal arts college? “The current economic climate has heightened the challenges of being successful in higher education,” Mr. Thimons admitted. “The biggest challenge is providing and maintaining an environment where students can come and prepare for a career (their life’s work as Chuck Noll used to say) develop lifelong values and enjoy a beautiful campus in a safe and healthy way. All of that is very expensive and challenges us to be responsible with the way we manage and allocate our resources and stay focused on our mission.”
A member of the board of directors of Tri-City Life which provides educational and financial support to single mothers, he has also served on the board of DePaul Institute and his parish council.
Mr. Thimons is one of 12 children who grew up in Natrona, where his father worked at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. His six brothers and five sisters, who also all attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School, remain close and still live within 35 miles of each other. He and his high school sweetheart, Eileen, a registered nurse who works for UPMC, have been married for 36 years and have lived in Lower Burrell for 30 years. They are active members of Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church in Natrona Heights. They have two sons, Steven, 35, who works for Schneider Downs in Pittsburgh, and Michael, 33, an optometrist in Slippery Rock. They also enjoy two grandchildren, Ellie, 4, and Charlie, 1.
A devoted fan of all sports, he has done some grade school and high school basketball coaching but especially enjoys watching the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins Hockey, Pitt Basketball and Saint Vincent Bearcat Football. He also enjoys reading history and fiction.
The Pittsburgh Business Times, sponsor of the CFO of the Year competition, announced this year’s winners in five categories at a special event at the Omni William Penn Hotel on November 10.
Non-Profit CFO of the Year Dennis P. Thimons, center, with Saint Vincent College President Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., left, and Alan Robertson, publisher of the Pittsburgh Business Times, right.