Above the Café lies the business office, the location of Haverford’s Chief Financial Officer Mr. David Gold.
After twenty-one years of service, Mr Gold is moving on, and leaving the school operationally sound, and on a strong financial footing.
The journey to CFO for Mr. Gold began after graduating from Penn State with a degree in accounting, and landing his first job in public accounting at Arthur Andersen, a “Big 8” accounting firm. After that, Mr. Gold served in leadership roles in financial management and operations for not-for-profit organizations that grew quickly but lacked systems and robust financial controls, including at the time The Foundation for Architecture and The Philadelphia Education Fund.
“I got involved with education. I built an expertise in turning around financially failing not-for-profits,” Mr. Gold said.
While Haverford was not a failing not-for-profit before Mr. Gold arrived, there were challenges to tackle in its finances and operations.
“People said Haverford was great, but the whole underlying business structure needed improvement. People weren’t being billed correctly, money wasn’t being collected, it wasn’t customer friendly, there were problems with the school store, and many other challenges,” Mr. Gold said. Since then, investments in information technology and systems have improved operations and reduced costs.
Mr. Gold has also played an important role in financing and executing plans to improve the campus.
“Over the past two decades, the school invested $100 million in capital improvements, including new lower, upper, and middle schools, and Nostrant Pavilion.”Mr. David Gold
“Over the past two decades, the school invested $100 million in capital improvements, including new lower, upper, and middle schools, and Nostrant Pavilion.”
Mr. Gold emphasized that “we have beautiful facilities, but the people matter.”
Attracting and retaining the best faculty, staff, coaches, and school leadership are all critical to the success of the school. Mr. Gold set up a human resources program that includes competitive compensation to attract talented teachers, as well as an evaluation system to hold teachers accountable to performance benchmarks.
There are a few quantitative measurements to point to when viewing Mr. Gold’s tenure as CFO. Topping the list is the school’s “A” credit rating from Standard and Poors (S&P).
“If you compare the financial condition of the school today against 20 years ago,” Mr. Gold said, “there are different indicators of financial health, including liquidity, the endowment, and credit rating.”
Liquidity is at an all time high: the endowment, which stood at $26 million in 2002, now stands at $115 million.
The A credit rating from S&P is no small feat. The school’s credit rating was upgraded from A- to A in 2019. After this credit upgrade, the school borrowed $31 million at a low fixed rate of 2.5% for a term of 30 years. The improved credit rating saved the school $1 million of interest payments over the 30-year term. Mr. Gold can point to that $1 million in savings as a contribution to the endowment.
According to S&P, the school’s A credit rating is due to a history of sound operations, a solid and growing endowment, and successful and durable fundraising.
Mr. Gold has not announced his future plans, nor has the school selected a replacement CFO. Mr. Gold points out the school will benefit from the fresh perspective of a new CFO who can test and challenge current operations and practices. When selected, the successor CFO will have to live up to the Gold Standard.