After 22 years as a Union College administrator, Gary Bollinger, Union’s vice president for Financial Administration, retired in October and turned the financial reins of the college over to Jeff Leeper, who for the past 13 years has been the assistant dean for Financial Affairs at Loma Linda University School of Nursing.
Bollinger became the Union College business manager in 1989, and has held the position of financial VP since 1991. His diligent work helped lead the college out of financial difficulty in the early 1990s and he oversaw an array of new academic programs and building projects.
While Leeper took over as vice president in October, Bollinger has agreed to stay on as construction manager for the next few months to oversee the final touches on the PA and IRR facility renovation and the completion of the new science and mathematics complex.
Bollinger’s legacy of service
A 1971 Union College graduate, Bollinger earned an undergraduate degree in business education and obtained a master’s in school business administration from Seattle University. He worked in academy and elementary school business administration for several years, joining College View Academy as principal in 1979.
When he returned to his alma mater in 1989 as business manager, Union was experiencing severe financial difficulties, with large external debts incurred in the construction of Larson Lifestyle Center and the renovation of the Don Love Building, combined with a decline in enrollment. Despite such obstacles, Bollinger has been instrumental in securing operating gains at the college in all but two of the past 16 years.
“Gary worked tirelessly then as he has throughout his tenure to ensure college goals could be accomplished while maintaining fiscally sound and sustainable trajectories,” said John Wagner, president of Union College both now and through the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time of financial hardship.
Despite the budgetary and financial challenges facing the college at the beginning of Bollinger’s 22-year tenure as financial vice president, he successfully guided Union through numerous new initiatives including the renovation of the Student Center and Woods Auditorium, the development of the Union Scholars Honors Program and the Career Center, and Spiritual Journey program, the launch of the physician assistant studies program and the international rescue and relief program, the completion of the campus facilities master plan, the establishment of the office of Human Resources, a new investment strategy, the rebuilding and renovation of the Ortner Center, and the building of the new science and mathematics complex and the PA and IRR facilities.
Leeper joins administrative team
Jeff Leeper joins Union College with a wealth of business and educational experience. In his most recent role as an assistant dean for Loma Linda University School of Nursing, he led out in the financial management of the school as well as managing human resources, informational technology, the physical plant and other tasks typical of a financial administrator.
The School of Nursing faced a loss of $1 million over four years before Leeper took over, and was in danger of being absorbed by another school on campus. But during his tenure, the school not only posted a profit every year, but also added several graduate programs including a Ph.D. in nursing and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist program.
But more than all those accomplishments, he remembers the people. “Making students comfortable, helping faculty with personal issues and making their jobs easier—that to me was better than profitably running the school,” he said. “It was making the difference for people.”
A native of Southern California, Leeper graduated with a degree in accounting from La Sierra University, at that time a branch of Loma Linda University. He began his career as a corporate accountant, then an auditor and CPA. But in the late 1980s, he earned a master’s in accounting from Auburn University and then spent several years teaching graduate and undergraduate accounting courses at La Sierra University.
In 1997, Leeper took an auditing position in the Loma Linda University system, then after teaching for a year in the School of Health Sciences, he joined the School of Nursing as assistant dean for Financial Affairs in 2000.
“We are thankful that Jeff and his family have chosen to join the Union College family,” said Wagner. “I believe his unique combination of experience and his passion for Adventist higher education will serve Union well in the years to come.”
Leeper and his wife, Julie, have two children: Stefani, who will attend Union College in the spring, and Jeffrey James, a junior in high school.