Sarah C. Latham will assume the role of executive vice president for finance and administration in January 2022, according to a Sept. 20 University press release.
Latham will come into the role after the departure of Barbara Chernow ’79, outgoing executive vice president for finance and administration, who will retire in September, The Herald previously reported.
“Sarah brings an approach built on a foundation of partnership across faculty, staff, students and community leaders,” President Christina Paxson P’19 said in the press release. “Her leadership will be instrumental in ensuring strong administrative and financial support for Brown’s academic mission and distinctive student experience.”
Latham has served as the vice chancellor for business and administrative services at the University of California, Santa Cruz since 2012, where she oversaw nearly 1,000 employees and the financial affairs of the university’s $830 million annual operating budget, according to the press release. She previously worked as the “director of institutional research, assistant to the president and ultimately vice president for operations and planning from 2008 to 2012” at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.
While many of her responsibilities from UCSC will largely carry over to her new role at Brown, with Latham continuing to oversee finance, human resources and risk management, several elements will change, according to the press release. Her new role will not include overseeing housing, athletics or recreation because “those are in different portfolios at Brown,” Latham said.
According to Latham, she was more prepared to fulfill several of her current responsibilities at UCSC because of her past experience at Samford. In that role, she “really learned about” building, construction and risk management.
Since beginning her role at UC Santa Cruz as vice chancellor for business and administrative services, Latham has made a significant impact on campus administration and provided support during emergency situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 wildfires, according to UCSC Chancellor Cindy Larive in a Sept. 20 letter to the UCSC community announcing Latham’s departure.
Beyond her administrative background, Latham taught as a professor of political science at Samford University and led leadership programs at UC Santa Cruz and University of California, Berkeley.
Latham explained that her background as a professor helped prepare her for the responsibilities of an administrator.
She understands “how the impact of the departments in my division could either support or cause challenges for what was going on in the classroom, so it made me a better administrator, too,” Latham said.
Though she will not be teaching classes upon assuming her new role at the University, Latham hopes to teach or be a part of leadership courses at Brown if given the opportunity.
While Latham’s new role is different in title and responsibility, she anticipates significant overlap between her work at Brown and her current work at UCSC.
“It’s too early to have specific goals about particular projects or tasks,” Latham said. “ I hope to accomplish very quickly the ability to understand the key strengths of the operations at Brown, … and where we have opportunity … to optimize how we support students, faculty and staff.”
Latham also hopes to support students through the continuing difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, and imagines that she will have to quickly learn “the framework that Brown is using to adapt or change based on (COVID) case counts or situations within Providence.”
Latham also hopes to continue her relationship-based approach to her role when she arrives at Brown.
“I take a lot of time to engage with and build relationships with faculty and staff and students — to learn their perspective, to learn what needs they have, to learn what concerns they have and then to partner … with them to figure out how to address the challenges,” Latham said.
She hopes to continue the community engagement she was involved with at UCSC when she comes to Providence. While at UCSC, Latham was involved in working to “advance our campus connections with city and county leaders, serving for two years as co-chair of the annual Second Harvest Food Bank Holiday Food Drive and (serving) as president of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce,” Larive wrote in the letter to UCSC.
“Having our students or faculty staff volunteer locally” and “be involved in civic organizations” allows the Univeristy to impact surrounding communities, Latham said. Community engagement is “about taking the wonderful learning and research and creativity that takes place on a campus like Brown and ensuring that the community at large can also benefit from it.”
Latham expressed excitement about the “special” opportunity this new job presents, while reflecting fondly on the nine years she spent at UCSC.
“I’ve made wonderful friendships. I have colleagues that I’m heartbroken to leave in many respects,” Latham said. Brown “will be a great place to turn the next chapter for me professionally.”