Harold W. Hewitt, Jr.
Harold W. Hewitt, Jr.

Harold W. Hewitt, Jr.

For most of his educational career, Harold Hewitt kept an eye on Chapman University. “I met Jim Doti early on during his presidency at the school, and I was impressed with his plans for growth. From that point on, I watched the school position itself as a national, high quality, academically thriving organization, and I knew Chapman was the place I wanted to be,” says Hewitt, who got his wish in 2007 when he became the school’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

What attracted Hewitt to Chapman, which has blossomed from a small college to a university ranked among the top 10 regional universities in the west, was the speed with which the school has grown in the last two decades.

“Generally, higher education institutions move very slowly. The unparalleled and unique rise to quality and prominence that Chapman has experienced is extraordinary and has been enjoyable to watch,” says Hewitt. “The university is innovative and forever progressing.”

Pursuit of Academic Excellence

It is this constant growth and pursuit of academic excellence that drives Hewitt, whose multi-faceted position requires that he juggle responsibilities that have a major impact on the development of the campus and the future of the university. He is tasked with supporting the president in developing annual budgets, organizing debt for the university, staffing the investment committee of the Board of Trustees and managing the university’s endowment, which as of December 31st had a total market value of $248 million.

“Managing investments is really important to the future of the university, and I find this to be an intellectually fascinating and high impact area of my work,” says Hewitt, who received his MBA with a concentration in finance from The Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker Center. “I enjoy analyzing markets and assisting the investment committee in directing the investments. While the task involves some risk and is challenging, I have the benefit of consulting with several trustees who are personally involved in professional investing. These are all very smart folks who give me the opportunity to constantly learn.”

Born Academic

It was an interest in learning that led Hewitt to initially study to be a teacher. “I had always enjoyed academics and that really accelerated when I hit college,” says Hewitt, who was born in Indiana and spent his formative years in Nashville and Sonoma. He attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, graduating with a degree in philosophy. It was when he began his dissertation at Claremont and started teaching that he realized the profession wasn’t for him.

He discovered that learning and its potentially life-transforming capabilities exhilarated him, not lecturing in a classroom, so he spoke with various individuals in the administration side of college life at Claremont and decided to pursue a career in the financial management area of business administration. To do this, he stopped writing his dissertation and entered the school’s MBA program.

Hewitt’s first job in administration was assistant to the treasurer of Claremont University. From there he went on to Whittier College, first as director of budget and planning and then as CFO from 1988 to 1996. Whittier College was struggling with finances when he first took on the job, but Hewitt and a team of administrators successfully repositioned the college. He did the same as CFO of Occidental College from 1996 to 2006. From 2006 until 2007 when he joined Chapman, Hewitt served as vice president and CFO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.

Perfect Fit

Since joining Chapman, Hewitt hasn’t been disappointed. “I consider Chapman my career capstone, and it’s everything and more than I thought it would be,” he says. “One of my favorite aspects of the position is the opportunity to work with other leaders on campus in a collaborative mode, including President Doti, Chancellor Daniele Struppa and the Board of Trustees.”

Jim Roszak is Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees and has been a board member since 1996. He comments on Hewitt’s seamless immersion into the Chapman family and his affinity to collaboration.

“Chapman has been blessed with excellent leadership and there are high expectations when stepping into that environment, yet Harold did so without missing a beat and has continued to do an outstanding job,” says Roszak. “The rapid growth of Chapman under President Jim Doti’s leadership presents many challenges, and Harold’s position is wide-ranging and complex. He has contributed to the school’s national prominence through his leadership at the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), where he currently serves as commissioner, as well as other Chapman affiliated groups. His commitment to understanding and supporting the Board of Trustees is also remarkable.”

Harold is an incredible multi-tasker, agrees Jim Doti. “I’ve never seen anyone like him. This skill to juggle so many balls in the air is particularly important at Chapman, since so many tough issues reach his desk and demand solutions. He has been an invaluable leader here and instrumental in advancing our university in a number of very significant ways. These include developing a relationship of trust and respect with our city and neighbors. He is a leader in higher education and chairs several statewide and national organizations. In serving these organizations, he reflects great credit on Chapman and personifies the values we hold dear, especially being honest and respectful in dealing with people and serving the university.”

Article Published in the
Mar/Apr 14 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Julie Bawden-Davis photo by Jeanine Hill
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