Nov. 29, 2023
VCU’s CFO with ‘unmatchable energy and talent’ to retire; administrative changes made
Karol Kain Gray, chief financial officer and senior vice president, said, "VCU has a very special place in my professional life because of the amazing things our students, faculty, staff and supporters have accomplished over the years."
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After nearly eight years of dedicated leadership and service to Virginia Commonwealth University, Karol Kain Gray, chief financial officer and senior vice president, will retire in 2024 at the end of February.
“I am very grateful to Karol for her dedicated service to VCU as chief financial officer and senior vice president. She brought unmatchable energy and talent to VCU,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “Karol has brought many important and long-lasting accomplishments to VCU, all of which have improved the learning environment for students.”
Gray led the process to adopt a new budget model for the university and managed resources that kept tuition flat for four consecutive years for in-state undergraduate students. She also recruited and hired excellent members of her team, all of whom will remain with VCU.
“VCU has a very special place in my professional life because of the amazing things our students, faculty, staff and supporters have accomplished over the years,” Gray said. “I am proud to have played a role in VCU's success and appreciate how the board, President Rao, my team and colleagues have empowered us to grow VCU’s impact and influence.
“I leave knowing that VCU has the potential to achieve its goals to improve the quality of life for our students, faculty and staff.”
Arriving at VCU in 2016, Gray brought more than 30 years of experience in higher education finance, operations and management. She previously served at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as vice chancellor for finance and administration, and at Stony Brook University in New York as vice president for finance and administration and chief fiscal officer.
“We have all benefited from her expertise and counsel, her steadfast work to ensure that we would always have a balanced budget and resources to sustain double A bond ratings,” Rao said. “Karol has been an asset to me, the Board of Visitors and the entire university community. She has helped transform the university for the better, and I am grateful for her leadership and friendship.”
Meredith Weiss, Ph.D., vice president for administration, will additionally serve as interim vice president for finance and chief financial officer. Weiss joined VCU in 2016 and serves as the university’s chief administrative officer, leading crisis response, facilities management, human resources, police, real estate, safety and risk management and technology services.
Weiss has led major projects including the One VCU Masterplan, Covid-19 response, The Great Place HR redesign and significant university capital projects such as VCU’s newly opened STEM building. She is a certified public accountant and previously served in a similar position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill overseeing the university’s financial, budget, treasury and accounting operations.
Her interim role begins Jan. 22.
Karen Helderman, executive director for Audit and Compliance Services, will become chief of staff in the president’s office. Helderman will oversee the president’s office team including government relations, athletics, board relations and equity and access services.
Since 2019, Helderman has directed the comprehensive and professional audit and compliance programs for VCU and VCU Health, reporting to the VCU Board of Visitors, VCU Health Board of Directors and President Rao.
Helderman provides advice and counsel about mitigating and avoiding risk and improving internal controls and business practices. Her new role begins Jan. 22.
David Litton will serve as interim executive director for Audit and Compliance Services.
“By so many measures, VCU is completing its best year ever; Meredith and Karen are proven leaders who will help ensure that we keep that positive momentum going,” Rao said. “I’m honored to work with them in their new roles and I am grateful for their dedication to VCU, our students and all who serve this transformative mission in the commonwealth.”
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