Delivering on UGA’s motto, “to teach, to serve and to inquire into the nature of things,” requires the dedicated work of faculty, staff and administrators. But it also must be supported by a carefully crafted budget.
James Shore became budget director and senior associate vice president for finance and administration in February. In that role, he helps plan and manage the university’s budget, which for fiscal year 2015 was nearly $1.5 billion.
What that really means, Shore said, is that his job is to ensure everything in UGA’s budget aligns with the university’s priorities and “to make sure the people in Georgia are getting the full return on their investment.”
Shore said, “I’m working with senior leadership at UGA and the University System of Georgia to ensure that our budget is within the priorities that are approved, and making sure that we are making sound financial decisions to protect the current generation of students, but also the future generation of students.”
A native of North Carolina and a graduate of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Shore began his career in the private sector. He held jobs in textiles, aviation services and the service industry. But with these positions, he said he felt like he was pursuing the “wrong priorities” in his work.
“If you’re always chasing the bottom line, I think you can miss some things,” he said.
He found a home in higher education in his next job working in financial administration at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Not only did he enjoy academia, he was able to earn his MBA.
“Education is one of the few things that someone can’t take away from you,” he said, “and it’s one of the most valuable things you can get.”
After 11 years at Wake Forest, Shore was drawn to UGA by its land-grant mission of education, research and outreach. Shore moved to Athens in February. His wife, Leigh Anne, and two children, Macon and Marleigh, joined him this summer.
“I have an appreciation for what a land-grant and flagship university of a state can be,” Shore said. “It really represents what I believe higher education can and should be.”
Having a well-crafted, thoroughly vetted budget can help institutions stay true to their missions. Shore describes a budget as “a quantitative tool that reflects your priorities.”
In his first months in Athens, Shore said it’s apparent that UGA’s budget reflects an “investment in people”—including faculty, staff and students—and a commitment to ensure the research and instructional investment gives back to the state, nation and world.
“We’re investing in future leaders and all of the tools and knowledge they need to be successful,” he said.
While his chief responsibilities are with the annual budget, Shore has three other priorities in moving the mission of the division and the university forward.
Collaborating with EITS and budget managers from across UGA departments, Shore will help lead the planning toward future technology solutions. They will be investing in HR, finance and budget planning systems.
“We have to help the institution with our future technology solutions,” he said.
Shore also wants to emphasize customer service to UGA departments and units across campus.
“We’re really making sure all of the business and mechanics of the university continue to run smoothly and are committed to working with our partners across the university to improve how we serve and support them,” he said.
Finally, Shore wants to increase transparency into the annual budget process.
“If everyone is given an appreciation for how this large $1.5 billion budget comes together, then they can connect the dots and understand,” he said. “If you show transparency and communicate effectively, you build trust. Once you build trust with individuals, they begin to understand where you’re coming from.”