Ortiz elevated to associate vice president for budget, university budget officer

July 20, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The key position within the University Budget Office at Penn State has been elevated to an associate vice president level, given the role’s importance to the University and increasing responsibilities of the position, according to Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost.

Effective June 1, Mary Lou D. Ortiz, Penn State’s former university budget officer, assumed the title of associate vice president for budget and university budget officer. The growing scope of operations the position oversees, along with tracking and analyzing all business transactions; meeting increasing compliance and accountability demands; added focus on strategic planning efforts; and implementation and oversight of new budgeting models all necessitated a title change to one more indicative of the extent of duties being performed. Ortiz will continue to report to Jones.

"Thanks to Mary Lou's transformative leadership, Penn State made its budgeting process more transparent and contemporary, enabling the University to manage resource allocations more effectively and strategically," said Jones. "Mary Lou's much-deserved promotion reflects her significant impacts at Penn State, and her work will continue to drive University-wide growth and success."

Ortiz leads the University Budget Office, overseeing 17 employees and a total operating budget of $7 billion for 14 colleges, 24 campuses, including Penn State Health, agricultural research and extension, and multiple academic and administrative units.

The University Budget Office is responsible for developing, implementing and controlling Penn State's annual operating budget, with teams covering areas such as operating budget management, the strategic budget approach initiative, and budget systems management in SIMBA (System for Integrated Management, Budgeting, and Accounting).

Ortiz’s duties have expanded to include more strategic planning responsibilities, which involved co-leading the SIMBA implementation project. Ortiz also has fostered stronger partnerships with financial officers across the University to better understand the resource needs of individual units and is also managing the University’s strategic process for budgeting via the Strategic Budget Task Force, which looked holistically at the budgeting landscape across Penn State and presented a number of recommendations to improve University financial controls, create transparency and allow for more consistency across the University. Those recommendations are currently being carried out, including the shift to a multi-year budgeting method (five-year cycle) for the University.

Through Ortiz’s leadership, the University has shifted its budget process from one-year allocations to include both annual planning and five-year planning efforts from unit executives to enable more opportunities for efficiencies; funding of strategic priorities; and appropriate allocation of resources.

At the start of the pandemic, Ortiz and her team worked swiftly to provide University leadership with data and options regarding revenue impacts, tuition scenarios and enrollment. Due to her focus on strategic annual and long-term planning, the University’s Budget Office has enhanced its systems to facilitate more sophisticated forecasting models regarding financial outlooks and enrollment projections for a variety of circumstances, including those previously unforeseen, such as COVID-19.

In addition to her job duties, Ortiz serves on numerous University-wide committees, including One Penn State 2025, the Tuition Task Force, strategic planning oversight and organizational excellence committees, the Compensation Modernization Initiative, and the Research Optimization Initiative (ROI).

For 25 years, Ortiz has worked in higher education finance, planning and administration, leading a range of efforts, including the implementation of new financial and budgeting systems and creating financial models to support organizational strategic goals.

Ortiz joined Penn State in 2017 from her role as vice chancellor for finance and administration at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. In her prior role as vice chancellor for finance and administration at Rutgers, Ortiz provided financial and operational leadership to the university’s flagship campus.

Additionally, Ortiz previously worked for Princeton University as the director for finance and resource administration for the division of university services and for Columbia University’s student health services as the director of planning and financial administration. Ortiz served in other roles during her time at Columbia, such as in the Office of Management and Budget and for the Office of the Vice President for Arts and Sciences.

Ortiz also worked with the International Rescue Committee as both Senior Director of Budget and Financial Planning and Director of Financial Planning and Analysis.

Ortiz earned an MBA, a master of public administration degree and bachelor of arts degree, all from Columbia University. She is currently a candidate for the D.Ed. in higher education from Penn State’s College of Education.

Last Updated July 21, 2021