George Middlemist, Ph.D., associate vice president of Administration and Finance and chief financial officer at Metropolitan State University of Denver, has accepted the role of vice president of administration and chief financial officer at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Middlemist will continue at MSU Denver through Dec. 22 and will begin at NIU on Jan. 16.
Middlemist has spent more than 25 years helping MSU Denver establish a strong financial foundation and sustainable budget processes. While working with the Colorado State Auditor’s Office as lead auditor in 1996, he casually interviewed for MSU Denver’s senior accounting manager position but initially declined the offer. However, a cup of coffee with the hiring manager and a conversation about the University’s mission changed his mind.
Middlemist went on to become one of the University’s greatest champions and advocates. Over the years, he has served as director of student accounts, director of accounting, controller (overseeing accounting services, the bursar and payroll), interim vice president of Information Technology and interim vice president of Administration and Finance. The Roadrunners superfan even had a brief and happy stint as interim director of Athletics. Additionally, he has had the privilege to work with many of his colleagues for the entirety of his tenure, mentoring several from student-employee and entry-level roles up to professional and leadership positions.
“George has led his team and the University’s budget process with uncommon patience, poise and skill,” said President Janine Davidson, Ph.D. “He has been an excellent steward of our resources because he believes in education, he believes in our students and he believes in the value of this institution. George is one of the most caring and compassionate leaders I’ve known. We are grateful for his many years of dedication to the MSU Denver mission, and we wish him the very best in this new role.”
Over the years, Middlemist also has been involved in some of MSU Denver’s most significant initiatives and undertakings. They include the development of the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, the Hospitality Learning Center, SpringHill Suites Downtown Denver and the Assembly Athletic Complex. He is proud to have supported the University’s advocacy and leadership on the passage of the ASSET Bill to guarantee in-state tuition to undocumented students and the achievement of Hispanic-Serving Institution designation. On a department level, Middlemist also led a two-year effort to improve culture and employee engagement across the Administration branch through better communication and increased employee recognition.
While he says the decision to leave MSU Denver was difficult and emotional, he looks forward to new opportunities to solve budget challenges and to challenge himself.
“I’m a firm believer that you don’t leave because of a place; you go because of a place,” he said, noting that NIU is similar to MSU Denver in mission, commitment to diversity and sense of community. “I love MSU Denver. I love the people here. I love our mission and our students. I’m expecting lots of tears and the full five stages of grief. It’s going to be hard.”
He added that leaving the MSU Denver community will also have a profound impact on his family and that they will maintain a home in Colorado.
While Middlemist leaves a legacy of collegiality, servant leadership, mentorship and University pride, many will also remember his colorful Covid-19-inspired attire. While working remotely during the pandemic, Middlemist amassed dozens of band T-shirts (primarily AC/DC and Led Zeppelin) and Hawaiian prints, seen often in virtual meetings. However, this collection pales in comparison to his more than 40 pieces of MSU Denver gear collected over the years, many of which he promises will stay in his permanent rotation.
The University will announce interim plans shortly and please stay tuned for ways to celebrate Middlemist and his contributions to the University.