Columbia College Chicago Appoints New Senior VP of Business Affairs/CFO

University of Wisconsin-MIlwaukee's Jerry Tarrer Brings Substantial Experience in Complex Higher Education Finance

CHICAGO (December 6, 2016)—Columbia College Chicago has appointed Jerry Tarrer as senior vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer. He will assume the role on January 17, 2017.

Tarrer was chosen through an extended national search for his experience in managing financial systems in higher education, and his deep understanding of financial and investment markets, budget analysis and change management. For the last five years, Tarrer served as associate vice chancellor for business and financial services, and chief financial officer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“Jerry understands the context of where Columbia is in its Strategic Plan, and where we strive to be,” said Kwang-Wu Kim, president and CEO. “He also brings tremendous experience working with faculty and academic leadership, a deep fluency of the role of finance in higher education, and expertise in keeping teams well-informed in an evolving institution. His leadership style and his financial acumen will have a tremendous, positive impact on the institution, and he will be a welcome addition to the Columbia community.”

In his new role, Tarrer will work closely with President Kim and Provost Stanley Wearden toward developing and implementing the fiscal strategy for the college in alignment with the Strategic Plan. He will also serve as counsel to senior management and the Board of Trustees. As a member of the senior leadership team, he will additionally serve as an advisor to college vice presidents to help evaluate their financial plans and budgeting, among other duties.

Tarrer served in several capacities at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, including as deputy vice chancellor for finance and administrative affairs, director of facility services and business officer for the university libraries. Most recently, he led a diverse team of campus stakeholders in the development of a new budget model, and led numerous initiatives improving business functions in key areas including enrollment management, student tuition discounting, human resources, procurement and overall business processes.

“Of Jerry’s many aptitudes and strengths, he brings to Columbia a deep knowledge base of change management, planning and business process improvements that will continue to strengthen the institution,” said Richard Dowsek, interim CFO. “His familiarity with the Chicago market and with the college make him additionally well-prepared for this complex and changing higher education environment.”

Tarrer is originally from Chicago. He earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Columbia College Chicago is a private, nonprofit college offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts and business for 8,000 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit

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