By Jordan Beach
What began as a four-month, temporary position has now become the nearly four-year career Stephanie Owens established at Reinhardt University.
Owens serves as chief financial officer and vice president of finance and administration at Reinhardt, however, when she started in April 2017, she was hired to serve in the interim to close the fiscal year, complete that year’s audit, write the facilities and financial standards for the five-year SACSCOC accreditation report and complete the USDA financing. Within the first month, she joined the University full-time.
In her position, Owens oversees many areas on campus:
- Business office
- Food services
- Human resources
- Information technology
- Risk management
- Third party contractors
- Financing, leases, loans and contracts
- Legal, insurance and contract negotiations
Additionally, Owens serves as a staff liaison for the Finance, Investment and Building & Grounds Committees. She compiles, distributes and reviews the operating and capital budgets with constituents, as well as distributes and communicates the status of financial information to the president, cabinet and board of trustees.
Owens holds a master’s degree in accountancy and has been a Certified Public Accountant for 20 years. Before starting her 16-year career in higher education, Owens worked in accounting for a wide variety of industries.
“I intentionally chose a different field of accounting for each new position,” Owens said. “My ending up in higher education was because it was a field of accounting I had not experienced, and possibly fate.”
An unknown source recommended Owens for a local university accounting position - one in which she did not submit her resume - and she received a call from the school’s CFO.
“Out of curiosity I met with him for an interview. By the end of the week, I was working for him.”
Owens began her first higher education accounting position in 2004 as a controller and became the CFO and VP for finance and administration eight months later.
“Many areas of higher education appealed to me. The CFO is not a typical accounting position, but one that provides a vast variety of duties every day. My day may be spent on personnel issues, broken water lines, banking negotiations and vendor contract negotiations. This is also a job that allows much greater interaction throughout the campus, from the office environment, to athletic events and activities in the performing arts. Having students in your work environment is a bonus because of their activities.”
The best part of Owens’ position at Reinhardt is the people she works with and the “chaos” each day brings.
“My job is problem solving and coordinating people so they can do their jobs well. I have an excellent group of directors that are knowledgeable in their areas, so we are able to accomplish a lot each day. On the cabinet level, I enjoy the friendship and team spirit shown on a daily basis.”
When she’s not on campus, Owens enjoys reading, playing cards, attending concerts, plays and athletic events, decorating her home, cooking for the holidays and watching Hallmark. She travels to visit her family, who resides in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida, Texas and Georgia, and particularly appreciates spending time together with her entire family on cruises.