This archived article was written by: Zak Konakis
Students may not be aware of one of the newest faces on campus, though he is doing more for them then they realize. Despite the seemingly unawareness of his position to students, they have seen clues of his presence in the form of a black Audi TT, or at least noticed the guy wearing a tie and carrying a cup of coffee at all hours of the day.
Kevin Walthers, Ph.D., is the new vice president of finance. Originally from Dallas, Texas, his involvement with CEU began ten years ago as a legislative staffer and subsequently an Assistant Commissioner for the State Board of Regents. When what seemed like a temporary college need arose last summer, he volunteered to split his time between the Regents and CEU.
“President [Ryan] Thomas had been a good friend for several years. He helped me with my dissertation, I thought this would be a good way to say ‘thanks,'” Walthers told the Eagle. Ultimately the job became full time when the president and commissioner of higher education asked him to take on the job completely.
Walthers attended the University of Texas in Austin earning a bachelor’s degree in education. While there he developed a strong bond for Longhorn sports (he still buys season tickets for football) and the eclectic music scene of Austin. “My iPod is loaded with great musicians most have never heard of – like Bob Schneider, who is more famous for having dated Sandra Bullock than for his clever lyrics and fun live shows.”
After teaching for five years and completing a master’s degree at East Texas State University (now Texas After A&M – Commerce) he moved to Utah when his then-wife obtained a job in Salt Lake.
Walthers continued his graduate work at the University of Utah, continuing research on equal educational opportunity in public schools even when his career turned toward higher education. “Part of the experience of doing my doctorate was doing research separate from my job.”
With the experience of working for the legislature and the Regents, Walthers saw the problems facing smaller colleges in the state. To that end, he worked with Sen. Mike Dmitrich (D-Price) to gain initial approval for debt relief of $3 million from the state legislature. “It’s just the first step in the process, but we’re excited to get such strong support – we’ll keep working to make sure the funding sticks when the legislature closes at the end of the month.”
CEU needs help from local leaders like Dmitrich and Rep. Brad King (D-Price), because, “The University of Utah can take care of themselves. UVSC can take care of themselves, but the small schools, we don’t have the staff, we don’t have people at the legislature all day like the bigger schools do – all day they have people that hang out at the legislature to make sure that nothing happens.”
“President Thomas and myself are up there putting miles on our cars, but we can’t be there everyday like they can.”
And more than just putting the miles on his car, he is fighting the war here. His first task was making the business department more user-friendly and developing a customer-service type atmosphere. “The staff in the business office have really responded to the challenge of going the extra mile for those on campus. We’re cross-training and asking staff to solve problems. I’m proud of how well they are doing.”
If there is anything that students want to talk about, whether it is about student fees or payroll they can just come in and ask questions. “There are no secrets here, it is all open door.” Primary among tasks it taking care of the payroll, which is always appreciated by all the staff and faculty, alike, “That is the most important thing on this campus that I can do is making sure that they can all get paid.”
The entire business office has come together to finalize reports that often weren’t sent to the Regent’s office. Reporting is now caught up and “CEU is no longer seen as the school that is late. We even beat some of the big schools in getting our reporting done on time.”
In addition to his regular business travels around the state, Walthers is set to travel to the United Arab Emirates in the fall. He plans on stopping off in Europe a few days (possibly Athens) in conjunction with visiting a friend who was once the vice president of Utah Valley State College and is now president of a college in Dubai. “I studied the Middle East as an undergraduate. I have a Delta voucher that is good for anywhere they fly, and a friend in Dubai – how perfect is that?”
More than just a job, Walthers is here to help the school and students of CEU through legislative relationships and taking a stand for our little college. He believes this is definitely the time to be at CEU. The College is on the upswing as the state comes out of their budget crisis and funds are being directed to education.
The addition of Walthers to CEU is changing the business department with a new and improved service atmosphere and the increasing dedication of the staff to the students of CEU. The future has never been brighter.