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Wharton alumnus named CFO at JSU

Howard MerlinRJT Byline

Jackson State University is pleased to announce the appointment of Howard E. Merlin, CPA as vice president for business and finance/chief financial officer (CFO) effective Jan. 3, 2018. Merlin joins JSU with over 40 years of experience in business, finance, IT, accounting, human resources, facilities management, procurement and various other disciplines.

“Howard has an extensive background in creating and implementing systems to improve the fiscal effectiveness of organizations,” said President William Bynum. “His skills are highly needed at JSU as we recover from our financial crisis.”

Merlin holds an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a Master of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native also has an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Virginia. Merlin will replace interim CFO Dr. Marvel Turner, CPA.

“I would like to thank Dr. Marvel Turner for serving his alma mater at a significant time of need and look forward to working with him as he supports and provides financial guidance for the JSU Development Foundation,” said Bynum.

Prior to joining Jackson State, Merlin founded RampUp Consulting, where he has assisted several organizations, from startups to firms with $75 million in revenue with IT, finance, organizational and procurement-related issues. For example, at RampUp, he assisted in creating a business plan that resulted in a six-year interest-free loan for a social entrepreneurial startup bringing a new textile industry to Kenya. Additionally, Merlin became CFO of SPHM Enterprises, a business management, advising and strategic planning firm that provides services to for-profit organizations.

Previously, Merlin spent 10 years at Lincoln University (LU) as the Vice President for Fiscal Affairs and Treasurer. While at Lincoln, Merlin worked with Bynum and then President Dr. Ivory V. Nelson to elevate the struggling institution to financial soundness. During his tenure at Lincoln, Merlin was fiscally responsible for financing over $75 million for campus renovations and other initiatives, helping LU to achieve Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s investment-grade ratings (one of the few HBCU’s with such), and improving the University’s cost structure, business and accounting practices and processes. Merlin was responsible for adding millions of dollars to Lincoln’s bottom line every year and maintaining stable cash reserves.

“It’s an honor to be at Jackson State University, and I’m looking forward to working with all the University’s stakeholders everywhere,” said Merlin. “I know from talking with Dr. Bynum and Dr. Nelson that JSU has a lot of wonderful things that it is doing. Yes, it has some challenges, but there are plans afoot to make sure we head in the necessary direction. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

Of his lengthy list of achievements, Merlin acknowledges that he is proud of the work he has accomplished at his many stations in life. But, he said the most rewarding aspect of his job is “working with people to identify issues and opportunities and to address them successfully.”