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Vanderbilt News

Brett Sweet appointed Vanderbilt’s chief financial officer

Jul. 2, 2009, 10:30 AM

[Click here to download a high resolution photo of Brett Sweet.]

Brett Sweet, dean of administration and finance of Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has been named vice chancellor and chief financial officer at Vanderbilt University, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos announced today.

“The CFO role is a key position at all times, but especially so now, as Vanderbilt continues to navigate the new economic terrain,” Zeppos said. “I am confident we have found exactly the right person in Brett, who brings health care, university and business experience to his new role. He will be a great addition to our senior management team, and I look forward to his guidance and counsel.”

Sweet, 38, was chosen following a national search to succeed Lauren Brisky, who retired in February. Pending approval of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, his appointment will be effective in late August.

“There couldn’t be a more critical time to have an extraordinarily talented leader overseeing Vanderbilt’s financial enterprise,” said search committee chair Dr. Jeffrey R. Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “The uncertainties and challenges of reimbursement tied to health care reform, the volatile nature of the debt markets, and the sheer scale and diversity of our activities and associated budgetary needs required an individual with a unique skill set.

“Our committee was impressed that Brett has this critical set of experiences, from both medical center and broader university settings, while articulating a vision for improved system performance, integration and collaboration that blends perfectly with our values and culture,” Balser said.

Sweet said he was attracted to Vanderbilt for a variety of reasons. “The core leadership team – chancellor, health affairs vice chancellor and provost, with the support of the Board of Trust and with the backing of the faculty, students and staff – are embarking on a number of exciting strategic endeavors that many universities only talk about doing. I’m especially excited about Vanderbilt’s efforts to enhance the collaborative ties between the university’s education, research, clinical and community support missions.”

Sweet said he also is impressed with Vanderbilt’s undergraduate living-learning approach, as evidenced by The Commons, which opened for first-year students last year. “Until you see it firsthand, it’s difficult to fully appreciate how wonderful this approach can be, and how important it is to the overall undergraduate experience,” he said.

Vanderbilt’s reputation for faculty and staff working together collegially was also a major selling point. “Universities struggle with this. Vanderbilt has cracked the code in this area, which is evidenced by the shared sense of vision and support by faculty, students and staff.”

At Harvard, Sweet oversees the financial and administrative operations of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which encompasses Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Division of Continuing Education. It also has 49 centers, institutes and museums.

Sweet came to Harvard from Baylor College of Medicine, where he was executive vice president of finance and administration and chief financial officer. He was responsible for the college’s finances, capital markets management, information technology, human resources, facilities, research administration, business operations and investment management.

From 2000 to 2004, Sweet was a principal with The Boston Consulting Group in the United States and in Europe, where his emphasis was on competitive strategies and change management in large, multinational organizations as well as academic medical centers and colleges.

Sweet, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, earned a master of business administration from Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration in 2000.

He spent five years as a nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy and served as a special projects officer with the National Security Agency.

Media Contact: Elizabeth Latt, (615) 322-NEWS

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