Excellent financial management leads Sweet Briar’s Luther Griffith to be named a finalist for state award

Luther T. Griffith, Sweet Briar College’s vice president for finance, operations, and auxiliary enterprises, was named a finalist in the 17th annual 2022 Virginia CFO Awards, announced by Virginia Business magazine at a dinner and awards ceremony held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond on June 16.

Fifty-one chief financial officers (CFOs) from around the Commonwealth were nominated in four award categories, representing large and small companies, nonprofits and government agencies. Griffith was one of four finalists in the award category of Large Nonprofit CFO, won by Hossein Sadid of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Griffith, an accomplished executive with more than 25 years of experience in senior-level management and finance roles, including in large corporate environments, technology start-ups and education, joined Sweet Briar College as vice president for finance, operations, and auxiliary enterprises in May 2019.

He was nominated for the award by Sweet Briar’s president, Meredith Woo. “One of Luther’s greatest strengths,” she stated, “is that his vast experience gives him a fresh perspective on higher education financial and operational management. This enables him to look at problems objectively and solve them creatively, with fantastic results. I’m delighted that he was a finalist for this prestigious award.”

Luther says his role as CFO is to implement President Woo’s vision for making Sweet Briar one of the most distinctive and innovative liberal arts colleges in the country, renowned for producing women leaders. “I’m honored to be a finalist for the Virginia CFO award,” he said. “I’m here to make things happen and determine what can be realized in a fiscally responsible way. If something isn’t right, I’ll figure out how to fix it and I’ll persist until the issue is resolved. I’m not afraid to give the unvarnished truth from a CFO’s perspective, but at the same time, I know that a CFO needs to work on ways to say ‘yes.’ You can’t save your way to prosperity; you need to be more innovative and entrepreneurial to build your organization for success.”

Since Griffith became the College’s CFO, its finances have become increasingly stable and sound, as evidenced by Sweet Briar’s recent ten-year reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, improved bond ratings, clean audits and balanced budgets with surpluses in the midst of a global pandemic that has wrought havoc on many sectors of the economy, including higher education. Under his watch, Sweet Briar has also launched a comprehensive program to improve its infrastructure. Noteworthy projects include: building a 26,000 sq. ft. greenhouse, a student health center, an outdoor student commons area, renovations to the Riding Center, and refurbishments to student living spaces. The College recently broke ground on a $2.5 million turf field complex.