Yale President Richard Levin named Shauna King, a former top official at PepsiCo, as the University’s next vice president for finance and administration Tuesday afternoon.
As one of Yale’s seven officers — and the first woman to hold the finance and administration position — King will be responsible for a wide swath of areas including finance, student services, information technology and labor relations. University officials said they expect King to apply her corporate experience to campus initiatives begun under John Pepper, her predecessor, which include promoting internal career development and strengthening the administration’s partnership with local labor unions.
Pepper’s tenure lasted only two years, and King said she is planning for a more extended stay in New Haven. She served as president of shared services, as global chief information officer and as chief transformation officer at PepsiCo before retiring in 2003.
“I’ve spent my entire career in a corporate environment and was looking for something new and different to do,” King said. “Making a great institution like Yale even better sounds like a challenge I’d like to spend the next decade working on.”
Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration Bruce Alexander will return to his full-time duties as vice president for New Haven and state affairs after King takes office on June 1.
Levin said he chose King for her experience in strategy and team-building at PepsiCo, where she helped reorganize the company’s operating divisions and streamlined business processes and information technology systems.
“Shauna King has had an impressive career as a leader in improving the operations of large, complex organizations,” Levin said in a statement. “She is gifted at problem diagnosis and priority-setting, and she is also committed to encouraging the professional development of those around her.”
King, who has an MBA from Cornell University, said she has had little experience with Yale other than coming to the Harvard-Yale football game while she was an undergraduate at Saint Lawrence University. She did not return to campus until Pepper recently invited her to spend several days working with his staff.
King will assume her post under circumstances quite different from those that confronted Pepper two years ago. In 2004, Yale faced a two-year budget deficit in the midst of labor-management tensions following a highly publicized strike. The University’s partnership has since improved, and King’s duties will likely involve expanding on current initiatives rather than overhauling them as Pepper did, Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said.
Lindner said Pepper, who formerly headed Proctor & Gamble, also appears to have left a legacy of corporate interest in University officerships. King and other candidates for the position had more corporate experience than in the past, Lindner said.
“Having John Pepper in the position really heightened awareness of the complexity of the role, and I think it attracted a lot of people from the corporate sector who saw this as an opportunity,” she said.
Pepper said his experience working with King showed him that she has leadership qualities that made her an ideal candidate for the position.
“She’s extraordinarily bright, she’s very imaginative, she believes in people, she respects people,” he said. “She has lots of energy.”
Since retiring from PepsiCo, King has served as a trustee on several boards and spent time with her three children. She also helped open a Catholic high school in Plano, Texas.
James Alleman, King’s fellow board member at the University of Dallas, said he was impressed by her incisive style and sensitive approach to balancing fiscal issues with the university’s needs.
“She was a refreshing member of the board,” Alleman said. “I’ve watched her make some very impressive presentations, which I thought cut to the chase on what the central issues were.”
King said she plans to spend April and May in New Haven acquainting herself with the University.