Hutton, highest-ranking female, manages $308M budget

by Alicia Jennings | 9/26/95 6:00am

At first glance, Vice President and Treasurer Lyn Hutton does not act like the person who manages Dartmouth's $308 million annual budget or its $902 million endowment.

Nor is it immediately apparent that the mild-mannered and well-spoken financial advisor is also the College's highest-ranking female administrator and the first woman to hold the offices of vice president and chief financial officer at Dartmouth.

However, Hutton, who can be characterized as laid-back and self-effacing, takes her success as a trailblazer in stride. She simply envisions herself as a financial director, rather than the College's most powerful female administrator.

Hutton even declines to take her fair share of credit for Dartmouth's prudent and successful investment strategy and growing endowment.

"It's everyone's success," she said. "I can take a certain amount of credit or blame, but really there are so many involved, so many responsible."

Blazing the trail

Hutton, who has been at the College since September 1990, is responsible for a myriad of diverse College functions including management of the College's stock portfolio and assembling the yearly budget. She also oversees the human resources department, auxiliary enterprises such as the Hanover Inn and Dining Services and the College Grant.

Hutton said the diversity is what keeps her job entertaining.

"Everything is so varied," Hutton said. "That's what's fun and interesting about this job. You need to be an expert on everything."

Even though Hutton is quick to downplay her role in the College's financial prosperity, Dartmouth has been very prosperous during her tenure.

Between Fiscal Year 1994 and Fiscal Year 1995, the College's endowment increased $114 million, making it one of the largest U.S. university endowments.

The operating budget expanded $28 million to $308 million, including auxiliary enterprises. Average expenditure per student was $34,444, of which only 53 percent came from tuition fees.

Yet Hutton refuses to take credit for the College's financial success, attributing these impressive figures to chance in the portfolio's positioning rather than her ability.

"Much of it's luck," Hutton demurred, looking down at her table in the Hanover Inn.

But it cannot be all luck. Hutton works hard, as her schedule will attest. After trying to schedule an interview for months, the only time Hutton had available was a 7:30 breakfast last Monday.

And as Hutton remarked at that breakfast, she will be home only six days during the next month.

While Hutton may be modest about her achievements, her colleagues are not shy about heaping praise upon her.

"She understands the budgeting process as well as anyone on campus," Stan Colla, vice president of development and alumni relations, wrote in an electronic-mail message. "She has demonstrated real discipline in managing the College's finances."

"She has done a wonderful job in investing funds given to Dartmouth by our donors," Colla wrote. "Her success has given our donors confidence that their gifts will be well-managed and provide the maximum benefit to the College and our professional schools."

Hutton receives equally good reviews from Dean of the College Lee Pelton.

"Lyn Hutton is a delightful person to work with," Pelton wrote in an electronic-mail message. "She brings to Dartmouth considerable financial talent and experience. She has managed the College's resources with skill."

Why Dartmouth?

With all of Hutton's financial acumen, she could easily be holding a job on Wall Street instead of managing the endowment of a small, Ivy League college.

Hutton cites College President James Freedman and his reputation in academic circles for thoughtfulness as a major factor in her decision to come to Dartmouth.

Hutton said she enjoys her role at Dartmouth and said she has no plans to leave in the near future. Hutton said Dartmouth will be her last job in higher education, adding she would only take another job if it involved pure portfolio management, which is her true passion.

In addition to her reputation as a talented financial manager, Hutton is regarded as a person with a particular sensitivity to various issues in higher education.

"She has an understanding of the particular needs of residential, liberal arts colleges like Dartmouth," Pelton wrote.

Hutton is particularly adamant about what she feels is the College's obligation to continue to take affirmative actions in admissions. She criticized the decision of the University of California system to discontinue affirmative action acceptance policies as "an abomination."

Banging her fists on the table to emphasize her point, Hutton said, "Without being mindful of our responsibility to take affirmative actions, we might not have sought out the most worthy candidates."

Hutton is also active in campus affairs outside the management of the budget.

Last year, Hutton helped broker the latest meal plan compromise between the students and Dartmouth Dining Services.

Balancing personal with professional

With all that Hutton does for the College, it may seem hard to balance a family life with her career.But, true to form, while Hutton acknowledges the difficulty of her situation, she remains unfazed by it.

"My spouse and I have worked very hard to find a balance between the personal and the professional," she said.

Since she first entered the financial realm, Hutton has frequently deviated from the "typical" path for an investment analyst. She said it is a reflection of her "take it as it comes" approach to life.

For example, she has taken opportunities to make time for a family and two children. Ironically, her son is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in architecture in California.

Hutton said last night that she encourages her husband and two adult children to do some of her favorite activities -- traveling, sailing, skiing, tennis -- together as a family.

Hutton, who refuses to admit her age, took a rather non-traditional route to her job as financial planner.

She dropped out of her undergraduate program in architecture in the early 1970s to join a Wall Street securities firm during the bull markets of those years.

After watching her excel in her new job, Hutton's boss encouraged her to return to school and get a graduate degree in business, which she received from University of Southern California. Hutton became a certified public accountant and eventually rose to the rank of Albion Management Co.'s vice president and chief financial officer.

In a move that even surprised herself, Hutton left corporate finance to work in higher education, when she took a position at USC as the senior vice president of administration in 1988.

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