New CFO Wayne Magdziarz Focused on Tuition, Housing

Michael McDevitt | The PHOENIXAs Loyola's new chief financial officer, Magdziarz plans to address rising tuition, create more housing for an ever-growing student body and maintain competitive faculty salaries to ensure the university retains top teaching talent.

It’s 11 a.m. on a Tuesday and Wayne Magdziarz returns to his 15th-floor office in the presidential suite at Loyola’s Lewis Towers from across the street. Magdziarz just finished hosting another one of the Chicago Archdiocese’s hour-long talk-radio shows, which he manages to host about three to four times a month, despite his busy schedule.

Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney recently appointed Magdziarz — who’s served in multiple roles over the course of his more than 35 years at the university — to be Loyola’s next Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Business Officer (CBO) after former CFO Robert Munson stepped down in April to take another job in Cincinnati.

Munson’s departure came at an inconvenient time for the Finance Office, just as the department was preparing for its board and several committee meetings, according to Magdziarz. He said he was selected to oversee the Finance Office in an interim role starting in April before Rooney asked him to take on the role officially in July.

Magdziarz is an alumnus of Loyola, having graduated in 1981 with his bachelor’s degree in radio and television, later earning his master’s in business at the university. He grew up in Garfield Ridge on the Southwest side of Chicago, but has spent almost his entire career north of the Loop.

He first took a radio job in high school at Century Broadcasting, close by Loyola’s Water Tower Campus, and managed university radio station WLUW during his time as a Loyola professor. His current office in Lewis Towers is only several floors up from where he took his classes, the old communications department.

Magdziarz said he felt confident accepting the CFO position, but that doesn’t detract from the complicated challenges he’s already begun to tackle in his new position, issues which he said include mitigating tuition increases, creating sufficient on-campus housing and keeping Loyola’s salaries competitive to retain faculty.

“There was a lot of synergy between what I used to do in my old role and what I would do now,” Magdziarz said.

The old role Magdziarz referred to is senior vice president of capital planning and campus management at Loyola. Working for the real estate development and acquisition side of Loyola for nearly two decades, Magdziarz oversaw the construction and renovation of multiple residence halls, the Arnold J. Damen Student Center, the Klarchek Information Commons, Cuneo Hall and the development of the recently opened Hampton Inn Chicago North-Loyola Station.

Jennifer Clark, associate vice president of campus and community planning, acts as a liaison between the university, the surrounding neighborhoods and local government when Capital Planning projects are in development. As such, she’s worked closely with Magdziarz over the last 16 years. Clark said he’s extremely smart and compared his leadership style to that of the famously wise biblical King Solomon.

“It’s somewhat surprising that he’s always able to see through all the petty minutia and rise above all of that to make the best possible decision,” Clark said.

With the goal of increasing efficiency, Rooney tasked Magdziarz with consolidating the Finance and the Capital Planning divisions under one roof. In her statement announcing his CFO appointment, Rooney said “this integration will better serve the campus community and address the challenges and opportunities we face in the evolving higher education landscape.”

Magdziarz seldom gets a break now. He said he’s in almost back-to-back meetings about the consolidation initiative and Loyola’s annual budget, which must be completed by December.

One of the bigger components of the merging of the two divisions is cutting down the number of department heads that report directly to Magdziarz. He said this will be done by both merging roles, in the same vein as his CFO and Capital Planning positions, and by delegating authority beneath him.

By his own account, Magdziarz’s weakness is he’s obsessed with results — although he doesn’t like to look over others’ shoulders, he said patience makes him anxious.

Magdziarz said he prefers to give others the opportunity to take on more responsibility and let them grow, adhering to a ‘do your job’ attitude. He said he values the perspectives and knowledge different people bring to the table and allows them to thrive in their individual capacities.

For example, he’s served on the advisory council for Loyola Limited — Loyola’s student-run business initiative which includes Felice’s Kitchen and ChainLinks bike rental — and worked closely with the students to operate effectively and on budget.

President of ChainLinks Jackie Micelli, 21, said Magdziarz goes beyond just serving Loyola Limited in an advisory capacity.

“He’ll strike up a conversation with you pretty much everywhere if he sees you. He always asks how my bikes are doing and what he can do in support of the program,” the senior psychology major said. “You can come to him with anything [and] he’ll sit down with you and have a legitimate conversation about what you need help with, [and] how he can provide support for that.”

With his appointment, Magdziarz instantly began shouldering the weight of some of the university’s biggest challenges.

In January, Rooney announced a 2.5 percent tuition increase for the 2017-18 academic year and promised the university was working on keeping tuition increases to a minimum. Now, Magdziarz is focused on following through on that promise.

“Gone are the days where universities are going to be able to raise tuition 4, 5 or 6 percent. The marketplace won’t accept it,” he said.

He provided a two-pronged approach to minimizing tuition increases — finding new revenue sources for the university and controlling expenses.

Magdziarz also wants to make sure the university is able to guarantee on-campus housing for students who need it. Last year’s record-sized incoming class forced residence halls to squeeze to create enough space to house them all. Housing for juniors and seniors has become so scarce on campus that many upperclassmen were put on a deferred housing list for the upcoming academic year due to the overwhelming class sizes.

“These large incoming freshman classes, that are in some cases 200 or 250 students above what we budget, strain the system,” Magdziarz said. “There’s not a lot of junior and senior housing left. There’s not a lot of transfer [student] housing left.”

Currently, no definitive solution exists for this problem, according to Magdziarz, but he said it’s an issue the university needs to figure out.

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