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HSU Senior VP of Finance to Retire After More Than Two Decades

Holding the financial reigns of Hardin-Simmons University for more than 20 years, senior vice president for finance and management Harold Preston will be retiring at the end of the 2014 spring semester.
Holding the financial reigns of Hardin-Simmons University for more than 20 years, senior vice president for finance and management Harold Preston will be retiring at the end of the 2014 spring semester.

During his career at HSU, he has overseen the operation of the HSU business office, accounting, technology services, human resources, the HSU post office, maintenance, print shop, Six White Horses program, and the operation of all buildings and facilities on the campus. He can also be credited for much of the beauty of the campus.

Preston’s influence can be seen in institutions across Texas as he mentored many finance officers over the last 25 years. He has served at two Texas Baptist universities and is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the U.S. Army as a 1st Lieutenant in a field artillery unit.

Preston first came to HSU as a student, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1969 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 1972 after his military service. While a student, he served in the ROTC and was on the HSU golf team.
With an MBA in hand, Preston started his career at Howard Payne University, Brownwood, Texas, advancing to the university’s administration as vice president for financial affairs.

HSU President Dr. Lanny Hall worked as a fellow vice president with Preston at HPU under the administration of Dr. Don Newbury. When Hall was named 13th president of Hardin-Simmons University, he convinced Preston to turn his talents to his alma mater.

“I knew he had the tenacity, the temperament and the ability to do this job. I also knew that he had two degrees from HSU and that he loved this institution. When I presented the opportunity to return to The Forty Acres, he answered affirmatively and I knew he would do an excellent job,” said Hall.

Hall cites Mr. Preston’s most significant contribution to HSU as his diligent effort to improve the financial condition of HSU. “He has worked hard to focus on efficiency in university operations, with great attention to the bottom line. Under his financial leadership, the debt of the university has been significantly reduced. The university’s debt is at its lowest level in 22 years. Given the growth in programming over this time, that is remarkable,” said Hall.

Preston has been a mentor to many university business officers throughout his career, investing much time in helping others tackle the complex job. Over the last 13 years, he has hosted periodic meetings of the chief finance officers, controllers, IT directors, maintenance directors, human resource directors, and financial aid directors for five institutions.

Other contributions and involvements beyond HSU include serving as the financial reader for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a volunteer job he has held since 1991. In 2007, SACS honored him with the James T. Rogers Meritorious Service Award.
An avid golfer, Preston has added to the fundraising successes of dozens of golf tournaments over the years, participating in the HSU Cowboy Classic, the Joe Black Golf Classic, and the Lettermen Golf Tournament to benefit HSU athletics.

Beyond his victories as a budget-conscience financial officer for HSU, Preston has also served First Baptist Church of Abilene on numerous committees and as a teacher in adult Sunday school classes for more than 20 years.

Preston and his wife Susan, a retired nurse practitioner, have two children. Their son Matt and daughter-in-law Shona live in Abilene and have three children. Their son Ben and his wife Melissa live in Portland, Oregon.

He will be honored at a retirement luncheon on campus May 1, 2014, 11:45 a.m., Van Ellis Theatre. Preston will retire after 22 years at HSU May 31, 2014.
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