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Craig Ness appointed vp for finance and operations

Craig NessEdward Craig Ness will join the administration of Lamar University in the position of vice president for finance and operations after a national search, officials announced today.  He will begin the position September 1.

“We look forward to Craig’s leadership in this incredibly important role,” said Kenneth Evans, president of the university. “He brings vast financial and leadership experience and a deep understanding of Texas higher education that will serve Lamar University very well.”

Ness joins LU after serving most recently as vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer for Texas Southern University. His responsibilities for TSU included oversight and management of facilities and grounds, accounting, treasury, budget, human resources, risk management and payroll functions.

He has more than 40 years of experience in higher education administration, including operational and strategic planning, financial projection and organization, accounting and reporting, human resource management, academic and administrative program management, information systems implementation and facilities construction and renovation. 

Prior to his appointment for Texas Southern, he was associate provost for administration and finance for the University of Houston.  In that position he managed an annual operating budget of $452 million, reorganized the tuition and fee structure for its 13 colleges and oversaw the non-academic staff of the division.  He held progressively responsible positions during his time at UH, including executive director of finance for the UH System, executive director of financial reporting and administrative roles at the division, college and school level.  Previously, he held the position of director of operations for a major department at Temple University.

He serves on the board of The Texas Connection, an organization that serves as representative to Ellucian on behalf of the 41 Texas colleges and universities that utilize Banner ERP products.  Additionally, he has been appointed to three Negotiated Rulemaking Committees of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  Ness earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Temple University and his Master of Business Administration degree from the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston.

LU’s former vice president for finance and operations, Cruse Melvin, will remain in a supportive role during a transition period through the reminder of the calendar year. Melvin became interim vice president for finance and operations in April 2013, and was named to the position in February 2014.

“We deeply appreciate Dr. Cruse Melvin’s dedicated service in guiding LU’s financial and budgeting activities for the past three years and his commitment to an effective transition,” Evans said.