by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
A vice president of finance with a wealth of experience in the collegiate and corporate world is the new chief financial officer at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Michael Beach, 55, an assistant vice president and public treasurer at Southern Utah University for the last seven years, was approved as vice president and chief financial officer by the KCKCC Board of Trustees Jan. 26.
“A great opportunity,” said Beach of his decision to leave his position as assistant vice president at Southern Utah, a university of 10,000 students located in Cedar City. “The title and nature of the position and my familiarity with higher education are a great opportunity.”
“We are thrilled to have a permanent new CFO of Michael Beach’s caliber,” KCKCC Acting President Dr. Jackie Vietti said. “His experience in higher education and also in the private sector will be of tremendous value to the college for several reasons, including the current, as well as projected decrease in state funding. Beyond Michael’s extensive expertise, his work ethic and interpersonal skills are outstanding. It is clear he is an individual of absolute integrity.”
Beach said location was another factor in his move to the Midwest. His mother currently lives 16 miles southeast of Cameron, Mo., after she and her late husband moved there in 2008.
“When my wife and I find a home, my mother will probably live with us,” he said. Beach’s wife, Suzette, is still employed at Southern Utah University as director of community education and experimental learning through the end of March.
Beach’s first look at KCKCC came last December.
“I loved the campus,” he said. “I came for my interview and coming in on the Campus Drive off State Avenue I thought this is really a nice place. Faculty, staff, and students were so warm and welcoming and I talked to so many people who love Kansas City and as they say, the rest is history.”
While his time on campus has been limited, Beach said he will prioritize a couple of areas to move the college forward.
“I’d like to see a one, five, and 10-year master plan for the entire college facilities. It’s hard for a strategic enrollment plan to accomplish its objectives if you don’t have a plan for the infrastructure to support the growing needs of the college.”
Beach said he would also like to capitalize on his background in investments by offering the college and the foundation a sound investment strategy.
“I also see an opportunity for the more timely and consistent dissemination of relevant and adequate financial information and other key performance indicates to all of campus through a financial dashboard,” he said.
An Oregon native, Beach graduated from West Albany High School where he played football and basketball and competed in the triple jump and pole vault in track as a sophomore and junior only to have a heart murmur rule him out of any further competitions his senior year.
“My love was basketball,” he said. “I had a vertical jump of 38 inches and could dunk from a standing vertical jump; it’s probably the only reason I made the team because I couldn’t handle the ball very well.”
A year after his high school graduation, Beach spent two years serving a religious mission in New Zealand. Following his mission and his families’ move to Utah, he enrolled at Snow College, a two-year college in Ephraim, Utah, and then enrolled at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
“I got married between the two colleges,” he said.
While at the University of Utah, Beach got his first full-time job in accounting and then transferred to the accounting program at Weber State University where he could finish his degree at night while working full time during the day. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in Economics in 1988. He later would earn master’s degrees in accounting (MAcc) and business administration (MBA), with a perfect 4.0 GPA, also while working full-time.
Beach joined Price Waterhouse Coopers, one of the nation’s top four accounting firms, out of college, working three years in Portland, Oregon, before transferring to Salt Lake City. He successfully passed the uniform CPA exam and became a licensed CPA in 1991. He would later transfer to a local CPA firm where he became a partner. He left shortly after to become the vice president of finance and CFO of a manufacturing company in Springville, Utah. During his 13 years in Springville, he also worked 6½ years after merging a fraud prevention and detection practice with a large local CPA firm before going to Southern Utah.
The Beaches have three sons and a daughter, all of whom are married, and they have five grandchildren. All three sons still live in Utah.
“My youngest son is working on his license to become a commercial pilot,” he said. The oldest son, a petroleum geologist turned general manager, manages a business the Beaches own making carbon fiber propellers for the lite-sport aircraft and large commercial drones industries. Their other son will be joining Amazon in Herndon, Virginia, as a member of their cyber security team in May after graduation, Their daughter, a mother of two, is a registered nurse working on her master’s degree in nursing, while her husband is in the Navy’s elite periodontist program at Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland.
An ailing back no longer allows Beach to play golf or snow ski, which was also responsible for an ACL injury “which abruptly brought my vertical jump down to earth,” joked Beach. “I had to give it up. I still like running and cycling. My wife and I love going places and hiking and we’ve been in team super relay running events like the widely recognized Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay in Utah, a 190-mile relay which is a lot of fun.”