Business Officers' Leadership Academy

About Academy

This five month-long academy includes a combination of in-person and online learning events. The experience begins with an opportunity to meet their mentor, academy colleagues and program facilitators in-person at the two-day opening retreat in Albany. Three  online virtual growth sessions take place throughout the fall semester (three hours each). The program concludes with a full-day capstone/graduation event where they present their applied learning projects.

Intended Audience

  • Aspiring and new business officers operating in a college or university setting.
  • Current Coordinators, Managers, Directors or AVPs/Vice Presidents with significant responsibility for leading business administration at their institution.
  • Those who provide the administrative support and leadership for ensuring quality and success of business operations of their campuses.
  • Those looking to transition to a business officer leadership role at an institution of higher education from an outside industry.

Why are Business Officers Needed?

Colleges and Universities require strong business administrators, and in the current climate where more than 40% of the workforce is 55 or older, a strategy must be in place to prepare the next generation of leaders. The role of the Business Officers (BOs) in the university and college setting is demanding and ever-evolving. Higher education business administrators are critical leaders, part of an institution’s core leadership team engaged in discussions of strategy and tactics about how to best utilize assets to advance the campus’ mission and goals.

The Business Officers’ Leadership Academy enables current and aspiring leaders to strengthen their leadership ability by:  

  1. Gaining new understanding of their personal leadership style;  
  2. Knowing when to use different leadership skills based on the situation;  
  3. Learning how to build and lead a team;
  4. Understanding the changing demographics of college students and campus colleagues;
  5. Being able to articulate a vision for their institution’s strategic and financial plans and move the vision to implementation;  
  6. Developing a broader awareness of the environmental context, as well as an ability to lead and navigate within this complexity.  


To be successful, such individuals need to be visionaries, communicators, implementers, and collaborators. To meet the demands of the role, they must also be able to lead cross-functional teams. The modern BO needs to have a solid mastery of the six domains of knowledge for higher education leaders:

    1. Know Yourself
    2. Know Your Skills
    3. Know Your Team
    4. Know Your Students
    5. Know Your Institution
    6. Know Your Context

After attending this program, participants will be able to:

  • Understand their personal leadership style and behavioral impact on others; 
  • More effectively use communication and relationship-building skills for motivating others; 
  • Lead and develop teams within complex organizations; 
  • Understand the position of the BO/VP as a senior leader in their setting; 
  • Identify new and future challenges confronting higher education business administration leaders and develop proactive action plans; 
  • Create a unifying vision for their organization and learn strategies to use data effectively to drive their leadership decisions.

Instructional Philosophy

This cohort-based program moves participants through a journey of self-discovery, skill development and knowledge creation. A variety of pedagogical approaches are used to ensure that learners of all styles are able to engage in and contribute to the program. The program is largely interactive, using a variety of small group discussions, leadership assessments, panel discussions, case studies, role-playing opportunities and simulations, all situated within the context in which the modern BO exists. The faculty for the program will be a combination of leadership development experts and experienced BOs/VPs.

Program Structure

The program is designed with a face-to-face opening retreat. This retreat allows for the building of a network and trust among the cohort participants, as well as facilitating instructional opportunities (e.g., simulations, discussions of personal leadership assessments, connections with their mentors, and small group engagements) that benefit from face-to-face interactions. This is then followed by three online virtual growth sessions that allow for a focused learning opportunity on particular leadership topics. Following the concept of the flipped-classroom, these sessions include a modicum of advanced work by the participants so that the three-hour session can be spent in discussion and dialoge, rather than delivery of content. The program concludes with a one-day capstone event that reconvenes the cohort in a face-to-face forum focused on supporting participants in articulating their applied learning project that will benefit their campus. Additionally, participants develop a personal change-management strategy to guide them in implementing the new skills and knowledge they have acquired into their role as a leader and the graduation event empowers them in their leadership role.  

Applied Learning Experience

As part of the learning experience, each participant will be expected to develop a plan to lead the implementation or development of an initiative, project or sub-project on his or her campus. Participants should come to the opening retreat with an idea for a project that they could move forward in a three- to 12-month time-frame. A planning framework will be provided and discussed during the opening retreat and participants will be expected to work on the development of the plan with pre-assigned learning groups during the duration of the academy. Each participant will present his or her project/action plan as part of the capstone event.

 See previous participants applied learning experience projects below: 


The foundation of leadership lies in understanding oneself, which is why several leadership assessment tools are built into the academy design in order to provide personal leadership data for each participant.

  • SUNY360 Leadership Skills Inventory
  • DiSC Work of Leaders
  • StrengthsFinder


The program fee for the five-month academy is $1750. Note: Travel expenses are separate.
Note: If you are attending the SUBOA annual conference at Turning Stone in May 2020, SUBOA is offering a special subsidy ($350 off) for their attendees to enroll in the academy! Coupon code is: SUBOA




Laura J. Barnum          Vice President for Finance & Management            Buffalo State College

Michele Halstead
Vice President – Administration & Finance
SUNY New Paltz

Josee Larochelle
Vice President for Finance & Administration
SUNY Plattsburgh

Wendy C. Gilman
Vice President for Business & Finance
SUNY Cobleskill

Opening Event

Two-day In-person Kickoff Event
August 11 & 12, 2020

Day 1: 9:30 a.m. start; conclude by 3 p.m. Day 2)

Location: H. Carl McCall SUNY Building, Presidents Room, Albany

Virtual Growth Session 1

September 15, 2020

9:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 

Leading Multiple Generations in the Workforce & Blended Organizations: Considerations for Working in a Union Environment


Virtual Growth Session 2

October 27, 2020

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

How to Build your Team & Predictive Analytics

Mid-semester Learning & Networking Event

November Date & Location TBA

Virtual Growth Session 3

December 2, 2020

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Communicating as a Business Officer, includes a panel discussion with the mentors



Capstone Event & Graduation

January 8, 2021

8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Presentation of Applied Learning Projects, reflections on the program and development of personal change management strategy

Location: H. Carl McCall SUNY Building, Presidents Room, Albany