|John Meerts, vice
president for Finance and Administration, has been working with budgeting,
energy-saving initiatives and people management issues from his office in
New Finance, Administration VP Keeps His Technology Edge
|John Meerts is a
technical guru. He loves computers. He loves numbers and budgeting. But most
of all, he loves people.
These are all reasons Meerts was promoted to Vice President for Finance on
“I love managing people,” Meerts says from his office in North College “I
love helping them overcome obstacles, make decisions, offer advice about
projects and being there to answer questions.”
In this position, Meerts has responsibilities for the Office of Finance,
Human Resources, Facilities and Construction Services, Legal Affairs and
Auxiliary Services. The former director of Information Technology Services
stepped out of this role in July 2005, but has continued to oversee the
department during his role as interim vice president for Finance and
Meerts’ schedule is chocked full of meetings, meetings and more meetings.
Some days he convenes with more than 20 people, several of whom are
“Sometimes they just want to inform me of what’s going on in their
department, or other times I’m needed to help make decisions about a policy,
discuss negations, or handle funding requests for various departments, among
other things,” he says.
Overseeing the university’s budget is one of Meerts’ primary functions as VP
of Finance. In that role he works with senior staff members and their
designees to allocate appropriate funds to university needs such as faculty
and staff salaries, classroom renovations and operating costs, payment of
building and construction debt, and energy costs. Another big portion of the
total budget is taken up by student financial aid which now exceeds $40
While interim vice president for Finance and Administration, Meerts
developed a five-year plan to substantially reduce Wesleyan’s reliance on
its endowment. This includes a way to save the university as much as
$500,000 a year on energy costs. He also oversaw the reorganization of Human
Resources, Benefits and Payroll offices.
"In his interim role, John quickly demonstrated the ability to manage a
complex budget situation," says Wesleyan President Doug Bennet. "John's
colleagues give him credit for great personal integrity and the transparency
with which he conducts business. He will provide the financial and
administrative leadership we need to implement the next phases of the
university's strategic plan."
Meerts holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology from
Southern Connecticut State College, a master’s in political science form
Columbia University and has completed the coursework for a Ph.D in political
science at Columbia. But it was a love for computers that drove Meerts into
After college, Meerts began programming IBM mainframes using the language
FORTRAN. He took up computer-related jobs at the Department of Juvenile
Justice in New York City, Wang Inc., and the New York Institute of
Technology. In 1989 he went to Yale as director of the university’s Science
and Engineering Computing Facility and Director of Administrative Systems.
In 1996, he came to Wesleyan as the director of Information Technology
“Back then, programming was all about having patience and perseverance and I
guess I had enough of both,” he says. “Now, we use different programming
languages, but the logic behind them still remains about the same.
Ultimately you’re still working with a machine that at its most basic level
understands binary logic. You may not think this, but programming can be
very creative. You design a product for your customer and when you’re done,
hopefully you have a happy customer using your application.”
Meerts continues to oversee the ITS Department in his VP role. He’s still
interested in technology.
He loves gadgets. His Personal Digital Assistant, with phone capabilities
included, chimes the Wesleyan Theme song when he gets a call. And if that’s
not around, he’ll pull out his iPod to head-bop a few tunes while playing
Flight Simulator on his PC. Oh, but he’s a Mac user too.
Netherlands native Meerts, a father of three, enjoys motorcycle riding and
playing blues ‘harp’ and guitar in his band, The Irrationals.
Being a VP of Wesleyan University is a role he’s still settling into. While
passing the Memorial Chapel on a midday stroll last week, he noticed that
the tower’s clock had stopped.
“I knew that clock had to be fixed, and then I realized, ‘hey, that is now
my responsibility to have it fixed.’”
The clock is ticking on time today.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection