Sharon Hewitt Watkins, CPA, was appointed Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer at St. John’s University in January 2013. In 2015, she was named University Treasurer by the Board of Trustees.
Ms. Hewitt Watkins brings to St. John’s an impressive record of accomplishments in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. She started her career in 1989 as an auditor with KPMG, LLP, specializing in audits of higher education and not-for profit organizations. St. John’s was, in fact, her first higher education client — working with the University sparked her interest in getting involved with mission-driven institutions and, in particular, organizations committed to social justice. She wanted to help individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their full potential.
After nine years with KPMG, Ms. Hewitt Watkins moved to the higher education sector when she was named controller of Teachers College, Columbia University. Responsible for fiscal management, investment and cash management, reporting and administrative services, she led initiatives designed to streamline business processes and enhance collaborative policy development.
In 2004, Ms. Hewitt Watkins became Assistant Vice President for Finance and Controller of the New York Public Library; she was promoted to Vice President for Finance and Assistant Treasurer four years later. In that capacity, she directed, controlled and coordinated all financial activities of the $265-million New York City cultural and educational icon, including all branch and research libraries within the system. She has developed and implemented policies and procedures in a variety of areas to improve efficiency and response times; has participated in strategic planning and diversity initiatives throughout her career; and has been responsible for all usual business activities, including coordination and facilitation of both internal and external audits, preparation and presentation of major financial reports and oversight of functions related to financial management and reporting.
Ms. Hewitt Watkins holds a B.S. in Accounting from the Stern School of Business at New York University and an M.A. in Social-Organizational Psychology, which she earned at Columbia University, Teachers College. She is a member of several professional accounting organizations and was a participant in the Harvard University Business School Common fund Endowment Institute. The parents of one daughter currently in college, Ms. Hewitt Watkins and her husband reside on Long Island.