University of Montana

Main Hall at the University of Montana

The University of Montana has selected three finalists for its vice president for operations and finance.

According to resumes posted on UM, the candidates are the following:

  • Lawrence Behan, vice president of administration and finance at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, a former finance manager for W.R. Grace;
  • Paul Lasiter, former vice president of finance and debt capital markets and former chief financial officer at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California; and 
  • Jim Jackson, assistant vice chancellor of facilities maintenance and operations at University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The finalists do not include women, but UM communications director Paula Short said the campus worked to recruit female applicants. She shared the following specific information from Human Resource Services including that the advertisement was "feminine-coded to encourage women to apply." UM said:

Of the applications considered:

  • 15 percent were from women; 82 percent men; 3 percent chose to not to self-identify
  • 15 percent identified as a minority; 8 percent chose to not to self-identify; 77 percent were white (not Hispanic or Latino or Latina)
  • The search committee conducted a blind review without names or identifying information; candidates were assigned a number, which is how the search committee discussed them.


Behan currently works for the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, which has an enrollment of 1,407, according to U.S. News and World Report. His achievements there include closing an operational deficit of $1.2 million and generating $450,000 in new revenue, according to his resume.

Behan's resume also notes he increased revenue from $12 million to $25 million as a finance officer for Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham, Massachusetts, from 2012 to 2015. At the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Department of Psychiatry, he managed more than 2,000 staff and 300 faculty.

The candidate worked for W.R. Grace from 1990 to 1997 including as finance manager his last two years. W.R. Grace operated a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, until 1990; the company was acquitted in 2009 of federal charges it knowingly exposed residents to asbestos and concealed the deadly threat.


Lasiter served at Pepperdine from 2002 to 2018, most recently as vice president of finance and debt capital markets at the campus counting nearly 8,000 students and 1,400 employees.

His resume notes he assisted the Provost's Office and management at the Graziadio School of Business in stabilizing enrollment and cutting costs. The work included creating incentives that resulted in "$23 million (43 percent) net tuition and revenue growth since fiscal 2013."

He has provided testimony at the California State Assembly and Senate Committee hearings on higher education issues. Lasiter earlier worked as supervising senior accountant at KPMG, a "Big Four public accounting firm." His resume notes he specialized in banking and higher education, and his major clients included the Glendale and Los Angeles Community College Districts.


Jackson's resume says he is a "skilled financial manager well versed in meeting operational needs and managing fiscal constraints." The University of Nebraska in Lincoln counts an undergraduate enrollment of 20,954, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Jackson's resume notes he is helping to save $7 million in a consolidation of "all campus auxiliary facility services (athletics, residents halls, student unions, and campus recreation)" for three Nebraska University campuses.

Jackson manages a budget of more than $50 million and is responsible for a staff of 500. He oversees the Office of Sustainability, "taking UNL from a STARS Bronze rating to Silver in two years." He received a "Kudos" award from the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and president in 2013.

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