KEARNEY – Jon Watts has a focused list of priorities for UNK’s Division of Business and Finance.
None more important, he says, than creating a culture of collaboration, being receptive and responsive, and offering a high level of service to everybody who comes into contact with his office.
Watts, 34, was recently hired as the new Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he oversees a $150 million annual operating budget.
A Kearney native, he came to UNK in 2010 and worked the previous six years as assistant director, and then director, of business services. His first day in his new position was Tuesday.
“There are very few positions on campus where you build so many relationships and impact so many things,” says Watts. “Business and Finance often gets labeled as the people who control money and the numbers. I want people to see that it’s more than that.
“For me, this job is about helping people achieve their goals. I want to formulate relationships that allow the academic mission to move forward.”
Watts wants his division to be “incredibly responsive” and approachable.
“I am someone people can reach out to when they have questions, concerns or need clarification. I feel strongly about responding to people in a timely fashion and with a professionalism that helps get them where they want to go.
“I am someone who will collaborate, work with you and have open dialogue about the benefits, challenges and opportunities that exist at UNK.”
UNK’s Division of Business and Finance manages the university’s financial operations that include Facilities Management and Planning, Business Services, Budget, Finance, Human Resources, Emergency Management, Police and Parking, and contracted providers that include Chartwells Food Service and Antelope Bookstore.
“I’m big on hiring the right people, setting the right vision for where we want to go and empowering them to implement and proceed as they see appropriate,” Watts says. “I want to help move UNK forward each and every day.
“UNK has a strong culture of service. I am committed to making sure that every level of our organization is empowered to do what they need to do to take care of our customers. Not just, ‘This is my job and I can help you in this area.’ I want people to step out of their comfort zones and feel empowered to do that.”
In his new role, Watts advises the chancellor, oversees operations of the division and works with central administration to plan and carry out financial operations, set rates and fees, and plan for construction and facilities maintenance.
It’s a responsibility Watts is excited about.
“Higher ed is changing, and that means UNK needs to change. We need to be a division that supports informed changed, carries a sense of urgency to improve, and refines our processes and procedures to make sure we are effective and efficient.”
Watts is appreciative of UNK’s proud past and focused on continuing the strong “tradition of success” the university is known for.
“I understand the vision of where UNK wants to go. This university is so incredibly positioned. I think, over the next five or 10 years, we are going to amaze people with the things we accomplish here.
“I’m truly fortunate to be part of the team helping move UNK forward.”
Writer: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454, email@example.com
Source: Jon Watts, Vice Chancellor Business and Finance, 308.865.8205, firstname.lastname@example.org