Business Officers' Leadership Academy


Next Academy Coming Fall 2023

SUNY Business Officers’ All Access Learning – Fall 2022

Registration Open Now through September 7

About Academy

 This five month-long academy includes eight learning events. Due to the fluid situation with COVID-19 the academy is prepared to be 100% virtual, with the hope to bring the cohort together for a mid-semester and graduation event in the Capital Region. The experience begins with an opportunity to meet their mentor, academy colleagues and program facilitators during two half-day online programs in August. A series of virtual growth sessions will take place throughout the fall semester (three hours each from 9:15 a.m. – noon). The program concludes with a full-day capstone/graduation event where participants 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. In these uncertain times, the leadership academy if offered by SUBOA and SUNY SAIL Institute to provide stability, offer people a way to move forward, keep connected and engaged, and take action​. It also encourages a growth mindset, even and especially in the midst of crisis.

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 business officers exists. The faculty for the program will be a combination of leadership development experts and experienced, senior-level business officers/VPs.

Program Structure

The program is designed as a series of online growth sessions. The cohort of 20 SUNY participants will be encouraged and provided opportunities throughout the semester to build of a network and trust with their colleagues. They are also offered instructional opportunities (e.g., simulations, discussions of personal leadership assessments, connections with their mentors, and small group engagements). Each of the online growth sessions 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 dialogue, rather than delivery of content. The program concludes with a one-day capstone event 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
  • StrengthsFinder


The program fee for the five-month academy is being fully funded by SUBOA. SUBOA is prepared to award 20 SUNY participants with full scholarships to participate in the academy in 2021.



Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 program, through June 21. A selection committee will review all nominations and communicate program status in early July. You may either submit a self-nomination or nominate a colleague. Submit a nomination.







Sometimes our lives get so busy with the doing (especially with the events of the past year) that we forget the value of being. The academy encouraged a healthy balance between the two.

The Business Officers’ Leadership Academy really helped improve not only my communication skills, but helped me understand my own strengths and areas of improvement. It provided a forum of networking and collaboration among our fellow peers and mentors, and fostered relationships throughout the SUNY family. I learned so much from sessions themselves, but also within the smaller breakout rooms. The positivity from the SAIL Institute, as well as all of the participants was extremely motivating and completing this Academy was an opportunity that I am so grateful for.

It brought blind spots to light. And, provided skills for difficult conversations. The networking opportunity is a huge part of the continuing gain!


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

Carol Bishop
Vice President for Finance & Administration
SUNY Delhi

Todd D. Foreman
Vice President for Finance & Administration
SUNY Albany

Michele Halstead
Vice President – Administration & Finance
SUNY New Paltz

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

Gregory W. O’Connor    Executive Vice President for Administration & Chief Financial Officer  Farmingdale State College

Opening Events

Virtual Kickoff Event
August 11 & 12, 2021

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Setting the Stage for Leadership

Session Two

August 12, 2021

9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Leading Higher Education into the Future

Session Three

September 15, 2021

9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Empower Your Strength

Session Four

October 27, 2021

9:15 – 12:00 p.m. Communicating as a Leader


Session Five

November 12, 2021

9:15 – 12:00 p.m.

Leading with Data

Session Six

Mid-semester Learning & Networking Event

November 17, 2021

9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Tentatively SUNY Cobleskill, and may be offered virtually

Session Seven

December 2, 2021

9:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Leading Diverse Teams

includes a panel discussion with the mentors

Capstone Event & Graduation

January 11, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


January 12, 2022

9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

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

Location: Virtually; may be offered in-person at the H. Carl McCall SUNY Building in Albany, NY