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UTA’s Davis named No. 1 budget officer in large companies/not-for-profits by DBJ

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 • Media Contact: Herb Booth

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Kelly Davis, chief financial officer and vice president at The University of Texas at Arlington, was named the Dallas Business Journal’s CFO of the Year for 2017 in the large companies/not-for-profit category.

The CFO of the Year awards are given to the chief financial officers who deliver outstanding performances for their companies and organizations. 

Kelly Davis

Kelly Davis, UTA chief financial officer and vice president, was named CFO of the Year by the Dallas Business Journal.

“Despite a reduction in state funding for the next biennium, UTA is continuing its trajectory without slowing down or increasing its debt service ratio, due to Kelly’s expertise and foresight,” UTA President Vistasp Karbhari wrote in the nomination form. “Kelly has developed with great dexterity the structures and processes to enable record-setting growth in four distinct areas simultaneously – a growth in on-campus population, one of the largest online student bodies at any public research university in the nation, rapidly expanding research expenditures and a significant amount of new construction.”

Karbhari also said Davis has ensured that the Office of Information Technology, one of the units reporting to her, factors into every aspect of UTA’s functioning.

“She is transforming UTA from a purely academic entity into a 21st century educational institution on par with the top private universities and corporations,” Karbhari said in the nomination. “Her work in leading the reorganization of UTA’s Information Technology infrastructure will essentially ensure that the university is well positioned to serve students, corporate entities and the community both in the metroplex and globally.”

Davis, a UTA alumna, said she’s humbled to be honored with the award. During her 20 years of employment at UTA, Davis worked her way up from assistant director of accounting services to chief financial officer and vice president of the University.

“I've been very fortunate to stay at UTA and really work my career plan,” Davis said in an earlier DBJ question-and-answer column. “Because my plan was always to be a chief financial officer.”

She said during those two decades, she’s collaborated with some incredible people and taken on additional duties.

Davis now oversees the Office of Information Technology, University Analytics and the Information Security Office, in addition to Business Affairs.

Eventually, she wants data to drive informed decisions made by the University’s leadership.

In the nomination process, a panel of independent judges, drawn from the region's top financial leaders, determined winners based on criteria that included:

  • Demonstrated financial growth during the year
  • Success in overcoming significant business challenges or barriers
  • Examples of team leadership and superior management
  • A chief financial officer's contributions to the community

Davis formerly served on the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America. She also serves on the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Foundation board, the Colleyville Chapter of the Lions Club International and the Colleyville Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.

She is active with both the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers and the National Association of College and University Business Officers – both premier professional organizations for university executives and administrators in the U.S.  In addition, she is passionate about student success and is actively involved in student support activities at UTA, including those that assist in ensuring financial literacy for students.