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Farewell to Flattery

Above: Flattery. Below: Laird.

Above: Flattery. Below: Laird.

In October, Patrick Flattery retired as the College's vice president of finance, a post he has held since Dec. 31, 1999.

He chuckled in recalling his unusual starting date.
"Larry" — President Larry Goodwin — "wanted me here for Y2K - just in case," he said.

Y2K, a widely-feared technological disruption on the date computers changed to the new millennium, didn't materialize. Flattery was to help guide St. Scholastica through challenges that proved more real in the years to come.

He served as the chief financial officer and treasurer, responsible to the president for the overall direction of St. Scholastica's business and financial activities, including information technology and facilities management. Tom Laird, interim chief financial officer

"Pat has been a superb soldier for the school," Goodwin said, "leading us through 15 years of balanced budgets, robust endowment growth, $50 million in building projects on the Duluth campus, and opening and upgrading our campuses in St. Paul, St. Cloud, and Rochester. I will miss him dearly."

Flattery is proud of helping shift the College's financial management from a day-to-day approach to one of strategic planning and vision.

"I knew that was what we needed to do," he said. "I pushed for us to be able to generate budget surpluses."

Probably the most significant obstacle during Flattery's tenure was the Great Recession of 2008 - 2011, whose effects are still reverberating. Some of the College's financial characteristics helped during that time, he said.

A small endowment, and proportionately large amount of cash saved through years of disciplined surplus-building, meant that when the time was right the College was able to sink $20 million into the endowment and achieve a more sound long-term "bank account."

Now, "the time feels right" for retirement, he said.

"I'm grateful to have been a part of this institution."

Tom Laird, an independent financial consultant who has worked with the College for several years, has been named interim Chief Financial Officer.

"Tom has good knowledge of our College's strategy and financing," Goodwin said. "I believe we will have a smooth transition."

Laird has worked in the financial services industry for 20 years, advising companies on strategy and capital formation.

"I am a graduate of St. John's University" in Collegeville, MN, he said, "and have a great respect for Benedictine values. When they are lived well, they have the ability to transform who we are and what we do. My goal is to be true to these Benedictine values and build upon the College's financial strengths as we faces the challenges and opportunities ahead."