By Dylan Pichnarcik
Asst. News Editor
At a meeting of the Board of Trustees on Jan. 24, President Nancy Niemi announced that Dale Hamel, executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) will be retiring at the beginning of the 2024-25 academic year.
Hamel has been a member of FSU’s executive staff for over 20 years after serving as chief financial officer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.
Throughout his time at FSU, Hamel has served five presidents, beginning with President Helen Heineman.
As a member of the executive staff, Hamel is one of nine administrators who oversee specific departments that keep the daily operations of FSU running efficiently.
Along with serving as CFO, Hamel is the executive vice president of administration, finance, and information technology.
Departments such as Facilities & Capital Planning, Athletics, Public Safety, and Transportation all report to Hamel.
Hamel's leadership played a central role in changing FSU's landscape. With the addition of two residence halls, West and Miles Bibb, FSU's footprint stretches all the way to the edge of Route 9 and beyond with the acquisition of the Danforth Art Museum on Vernon Street and the Warren Conference Center, located five miles south of FSU in Ashland.
In addition, Hamel said he was a “steady hand” during the $95 million renovation of Hemenway Hall and Annex, and the construction of the state-of-the-art Hemenway Laboratories.
“We only had $55 million in state authorizations. This is a large gap and we did not just want to build the addition - we wanted to renovate the remaining portions of the facility. … My financial experience was very helpful there,” he said.
Hamel added that collaborating with the legislature is a central part of working in public higher education, and his role as CFO for the Board of Higher Education prepared him to handle a problem such as a lack of authorized funding for the Hemenway Hall project.
President Niemi praised Hamel’s commitment to public disclosure. “Dale created a culture … where we did share [financial information], and that’s rare.”
She added, “It’s not a black box where people just assume how the money comes in.”
Hamel has also worked to secure alumni and private donations that supplement the state funds allocated to FSU.
Hamel has also been heavily involved with the University’s upcoming accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). FSU will receive the report around the time he officially retires.
During his time working for the Board of Higher Education, Hamel said, “We developed the first [state] funding formula which is still in effect today - which is remarkable.”
The formula came from Hamel’s dissertation work on economic cycles in public education.
With Hamel’s retirement approaching in nine months, the Board of Trustees has begun the process of searching for a replacement.
Isaacson, Miller, an executive search firm located in Boston, has been hired by FSU to search for qualified candidates.
The firm has assigned Dan Rodas, a consultant, to work with a committee appointed by the Board of Trustees, which will be comprised of faculty, staff, administrators, students, and a trustee.
The committee has been formed and will be meeting shortly.
Hamel’s commitment to students is appreciated by SGA Vice President Raffi Elkhoury. “He has always been somebody to answer student concerns or questions. If we have something that will fall under his area, he will always respond to that.”
He said he particularly appreciated Hamel's participation in SGA’s biannual safety walk and Administrators’ Forum.
When thinking about a successor, Niemi said, “We will never replace Dale as a person. … but in terms of his position, we have to. … I am looking for somebody who truly understands state education, finance, and public education because it is different than private higher education.”
Because FSU is a state-funded institution, a CFO must have an ongoing relationship with state legislators and the Board of Higher Education to maintain adequate funding to operate the University.
Framingham State is located in four legislative districts with four respective representatives, all of whom must be in contact with a CFO Niemi said that connections to legislators “need to be built so that the people who help keep Framingham [State] functioning will support us”
Niemi said there will be no disruptions in the day-to-day operation of the University because Hamel's replacement will be hired before his retirement, ensuring a smooth transition.
Hamel said he will not take an active role in the search for his replacement. However, he is confident the committee will select the right candidate and he will contribute feedback if asked.
Given Hamel's network, he is confident some of the applicants may be colleagues from past projects.
When thinking about the skills and experiences his replacement should possess, he said, “Obviously, the required trait is a financial background but beyond that, you’re certainly involved in all aspects of campus operations.”
He added, “I’m a little bit unique within the state university system due to my central board experience.”
At the beginning of his career, Hamel said he dealt with a campus computer shortage, allocating funds to expand the technological infrastructure.
Now, Hamel said he sees “AI [as] the future, and how that will impact education, in and out of the classroom.”
When he retires, Hamel said he will miss the connections he formed at FSU and in public education.
“Everything we do here is a collaborative effort and that is something I really enjoy,” he said.
“Also, students appreciate their opportunities here, which stood out to me. I’ve been to other institutions as well and that really hit me in terms of student interest and participation” at FSU.
[Editor's Note: For more information See Board of Trustees renames Office of Development and Alumni Relations on The Gatepost website]