Central College President Mark Putnam has announced his appointment of Karen Tumlinson as vice president for finance and administration and treasurer of the college.
Tumlinson is currently the division director of finance and operations (division chief financial officer) for the University of North Texas at Denton. She will begin duties in Pella by the end of May.
Since 2019, Tumlinson has served the University of North Texas, overseeing all finances and administrative functions for digital strategy and innovation, which is responsible for academic information technology, online programs, digital growth and enterprise programs for the institution.
Her expertise includes budgeting, compliance, hiring, payroll and strategic financial analysis, including forecasting and modeling. Tumlinson has professional experience outside of higher education and more than 20 years of experience in higher education related to human resources, risk management, technology, business systems, finance, accounting, analysis, facilities, the spirit shop, postal office, study abroad, conferences, dining, student life and more.
“Karen is a lifelong learner and hard worker who is looking to intentionally reconnect with a private, residential liberal arts school and faith-based community,” Putnam says. “With experience in all areas of the broad and complex portfolio carried by a college CFO, I am pleased she will bring her sound judgment, professional aptitude and quiet heart for service and students to our campus.”
Prior to her time at the University of North Texas, Tumlinson took on a CFO project appointment in 2018-19 for audit work at St. John’s Military School in Salina, Kansas. From 2016-18 she served as vice president – finance and operations/CFO at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina and as assistant vice president – finance and administration at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Sierra Vista from 2008-2016. She also had roles at the University of Kansas at Lawrence, Oklahoma State University at Stillwater and University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
In addition, Tumlinson has experience in consulting, property management and real estate development, broadcasting and teaching.
“Academic rigor within the liberal arts framework produces the best graduates who are ready to take on the complex challenges in a contemporary world,” Tumlinson says. “A major factor in why I wanted to join the Central team is the strong partnership between the college and the Pella community. My family and I look forward to joining Central, living in Pella and participating in service activities within the community.”
Tumlinson earned an associate of applied science degree with honors while triple majoring in accounting, business administration and computer programming at Lincoln School of Commerce in Lincoln, Nebraska. She also has a B.A. in business from Doane University in Lincoln and an M.S. in business and advanced data analytics from the University of North Texas. She has passed all CPA practice exams and completed additional master’s level coursework in accounting, public administration, legal studies and contract law, and business and human resources.
Active in her community, she is a member of the UNT White Accountability Group, National Association of Colleges and Universities Business Officers, American Institute of CPAs and the Society for Human Resource Management. She’s won several professional awards and has served with the Arizona Folklore Preserve, Habitat for Humanity, the Arbor Day Foundation, VITA program for the elderly, animal rescue and as a children’s museum volunteer.
Tumlinson and husband, James, will be relocating from Marana, Arizona. She will replace Central’s current vice president for finance and administration/treasurer, Tom Johnson, who announced his planned retirement last fall. Johnson will assist in the transition and complete his time at Central on May 31, 2022.
Johnson was at the helm during Central’s transition to a new pricing strategy that brought transparency to the market and positioned Central to be as affordable as the state’s public institutions. He helped refinance the college’s long-term debt into an unprecedented low fixed rate through the United States Department of Agriculture, and also saw the endowment grow from $78 million, at the start of his time at Central in 2015, to $91 million in 2022.
Johnson spearheaded Central’s successful $18 million expansion and renovation of P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium, a $2.2 million phase one renovation of Douwstra Auditorium, the relocation and renovation of facilities management offices and workspaces, and various other campus projects, including upgrades and replacement of the college’s steam pipes.
“Tom’s financial and professional acumen helped take Central to new heights,” Putnam says. “We are so grateful for the groundwork he laid. Managing through challenges facing all of the higher education industry and the pandemic, Tom put Central in an even greater position of strength.”
In retirement, Tom and his wife, Terry, will be enjoying new grandparenthood and travel.