Volume 97 Issue 7 News

Wilkin hired, Yelnosky moves from finance to strategic initiatives

by Theresa Oo

Juniata College appointed John Wilkin as the new vice president for finance and operations, effective Aug. 1.

Wilkin is currently the vice president for administration and business affairs at  Heidelberg University. Prior to this role, Wilkin was an associate vice president for budget management at Columbia College Chicago. Wilkin had also worked for Motorola, Inc. for 19 years with  a senior-level financial leadership position.

According to Juniata Campus News, Wilkin was responsible for the financial management, accounting, budgeting, business service, human resources, information technology and facilities during his time at Heidelberg University. He also contributed to the school’s strategic plan.

Wilkin was very impressed with Juniata’s recently created strategic plan. “The next few years will be an exciting time for Juniata as the College’s updated vision comes into view. I had the fortunate opportunity to work with President Troha for a short time when we were both at Heidelberg. I was very impressed with how well he could translate visions into actions. I am thrilled to come to Juniata to help that happen,” said Wilkin.

James Troha, Juniata’s president, also describes his experience with Wilkin in his past career. “John is somebody that I worked with in my previous institution in Ohio. I talked to him about applying for the job. He interviewed here, and our board of trustees and staff felt like he was the right person to fill up the position,” said Troha.

In regard to coming to Juniata, Wilkin is looking forward to the new experiences. “I am very excited about coming to Juniata and Huntingdon. It will be hard to wait for the next five months until I can get started there. Both my wife and I grew up and have only lived in the flat Midwest, so we are really looking forward to exploring the hills, mountains, rivers and lakes around Huntingdon,” said Wilkin.

Wilkin will be taking the place of Rob Yelnosky, Juniata’s current vice president of finance and operation. “I think John’s going to bring a fresh perspective, coming from several institutions, as well as some industries. It’s going to bring a fresh set of eyes on how we do things, and I think anytime you get new perspective, there is great learning that can go on. Just from that, I think we will become better as an institution,” said Yelnosky.

Yelnosky will not be departing Juniata in the fall. His new role will be the special assistant for strategic initiatives. “Rob’s going to be helping us out with our new strategic plan, and he is going to make sure the institution does what we said we were going to do in the plan, and not veer off to another direction,” said Troha.

The special assistant for strategic initiatives will be related to Yelnosky’s previous position in which he oversaw the strategic plan. “I’m going to be responsible for helping make sure that we are staying on track, that we’re generating the resources that we need to execute the plan. Then I’m going to take some specific initiatives on transportations, how we better leverage the beautiful natural resources around us, and also to get the students engage in these resources like kayaking, canoeing, biking, and providing opportunities,” said Yelnosky.  

When asked if there are any concerns about Wilkin’s transition to Juniata, both Yelnosky and Troha said they had no worries at all. “John’s going to be arriving in August and Rob is going to be in his position until October, so they’re going to have about two months of overlap. Plus, the two of them are going to be talking a lot about what needs to happen, so they’ve got about six months of transition time, and John will have that time to learn about Juniata and all the work,” said Troha.

According to Troha, Wilkin will be working to ensure finance at Juniata maintains balance with the upcoming campus changes. “We’re going to spend 15 million dollars on renovation across the campus. We’re moving forward with institutional learning outcomes, assessments with our learning commons and center for student success. So there’s a lot, a lot of things that are going on and all in the spirit of improving and enhancing the living and learning environment of scholarship and student outcomes.”

According to Juniata Campus News, “Wilkin’s major accomplishment during his tenure at Heidelberg including overseeing the implementation of a major information technology upgrade, creation of a new health benefits option that offered employees more control over their coverage, revision of the university’s budget process and refinancing of $18 million in long-term debt.”

Wilkin has a bachelor’s degree in economics, as well as a master’s degree in business administration and education and social policy. He attended college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University.

“I think John is going to be a tremendous addition to our senior team, and I know Rob is going to be extremely helpful toward carrying out our strategic plan,” said Troha.

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