Vice President, Finance, Strategy and Planning to retire

Emily G. Neese, Vice President of Finance, Strategy and Planning, announced this week that she plans to retire at the end of the year.

Neese, a 1981 Wake Forest graduate, returned to her alma mater initially as a consultant and adjunct professor of accounting before joining the University Advancement team full-time in 2006. In 2013, she moved to the Finance and Administration team and accepted a promotion to Vice President in 2021.

“Serving my alma mater has been the privilege of a lifetime,” said Neese. “The opportunity to work with so many dedicated and talented professionals has made this work a joy. I leave with a sense of awe over what we accomplished together.”

With an immense portfolio of work – at different times spanning fiscal stewardship, innovation, planning, and risk management – Neese made a significant impact in several critical areas of University business operations, including the successful launch of the Wake Will capital campaign, the Sustaining Wake Forest initiative, campus master planning, and the University’s operational response to the pandemic.

Neese’s early work with Wake Forest led to a new organizational structure and operating model in University Advancement capable of supporting a $1 billion capital campaign. Implementing the plan included hiring approximately 100 new professionals, overseeing the remodeling of office space to accommodate staff growth, restructuring financial processes, and developing a revenue and expense model for the campaign.

In 2015, Neese led the Sustaining Wake Forest initiative to develop 115,300 square feet of new academic space at Wake Downtown. The project used historic tax credits to fund approximately 50 percent of renovation costs. Neese also played a critical role in the Sustaining Wake Forest initiatives that made it possible to manage financial planning and policies for annual capital projects of approximately $100 million within Campus Master Plan guidelines. Notably, those capital projects included the successful renovation of Wake Forest’s 1950s-era residence halls and Salem Hall.

In partnership with Facilities, Neese oversaw an update to the Campus Master Plan in 2019 and conducted a space utilization study for the College. The master planning effort included updating building site locations and campus infrastructure, exploring physical spaces for expansion, and incorporating recently acquired properties. Working with College leadership, Neese collaborated on efforts to improve classroom utilization through centralized scheduling and enhancing technology.

During the pandemic, Neese led several working groups of faculty and staff responsible for adjusting operations to respond to the ever-changing challenges of Covid-19. She served as the liaison and consultant to the president and Cabinet aligning administrative decisions in support of operating needs.

“I am deeply grateful for Emily’s service to the University,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jackie Travisano. “Her dedication to Wake Forest led to incredible improvements in business operations, fiscal strength and capital assets. Her collaborative style of leadership embodies the best of Wake Forest.”

Travisano will share plans about the future leadership of finance and administrative functions in the near future.

Categories: Inside WFU