Bob Zimlich, who built a life and a career on Bellarmine’s campus, first as a student and then as an administrator, will retire as Vice President of Administration and Finance effective May 31, 2021.
Zimlich is only the third chief financial officer in Bellarmine’s 70-year history, following Msgr. Raymond Treece (1950-68) and Jack Kampschaefer (1968-97), and has worked with, or directly for, three of the university’s four presidents. In
his 38 years of employment, he has overseen the business of Bellarmine as it transformed from a small commuter college to a Division I, nationally recognized residential university.
“Bob is Bellarmine. He has played an important strategic role in Bellarmine’s progress,” said Dr. Susan M. Donovan, the university's president since 2017. “He has not only served well over half of his life, but also over
half of the life of the university. I like that Bob rarely says ‘no’ as a CFO but works with faculty, staff and Trustees to improve the student experience and the university as a whole. And I am personally grateful for the guidance and
support he provided as I took on the role of president.”
Bob Zimlich earned his bachelor of arts in accounting at Bellarmine in 1981 and worked for a certified public accounting firm in town for about six months, but when Jack Kampschaefer called him about a new entry-level position as assistant to the VP of
Financial Affairs, he eagerly returned to his alma mater in January 1982. He earned his MBA at Bellarmine in 1987. After serving as acting vice president for several months when Kampschaefer retired in 1997, Zimlich was officially appointed to the
In the 23 years since, he has been directly involved in the construction or renovation of 14 major buildings and the purchase of 27 properties, mostly contiguous houses, around the campus. Bellarmine went from having only 250 resident students to needing
more than 1,000 beds for resident students. He built an exceptional staff in the Business Office, Facilities, and Human Resources areas.
He is very proud of the financial condition of the university today, compared to where it was in 1997. “We have more assets and endowment than where we were 23 years ago. We have had many good years and some very tough years. It is always difficult
when you are as tuition-dependent as we are," Zimlich said. "We have grown graduate income over the last 23 years, especially with the transfer from U of L of their allied health programs, and we have increased DPT enrollment from an entering class
of 35 in 2001 to entering classes of 72 per year today.
“And we are still on very sound financial footing despite the recent challenges over the last four to five years. Bellarmine has still been able to maintain a Moody’s rating that many small private schools are not able to get.”
Three of Zimlich’s children followed him to Bellarmine. Ginny earned her DPT in 2017 and is a physical therapist near Owensboro, Ky.; Deborah graduated with an art degree in 2017 and earned her master’s in art therapy from U of L in 2019;
and Anna just graduated summa cum laude in May with a psychology degree. Son Chad attended a university in Bellarmine’s consortium through tuition exchange, received a law degree from Wake Forest, and is a practicing attorney in Louisville.
Bob and his wife, Susan, wanted to provide other students with the opportunity to get a great Bellarmine education. So almost 20 years ago, they established a need-based scholarship, adding money each year. In 2013, they named the endowed scholarship
fund in their estate plans.
“The Zimlich Scholarship has given me the opportunity to go to Bellarmine. Without Mr. Zimlich’s support, being able to attend Bellarmine would be much harder,” said current recipient Madisen Bowling. “I’m extremely grateful,
as it has made my journey to becoming a nurse more possible.”
A national search will be conducted for a new Vice President of Finance. Oversight of Human Resources will transfer to Dr. Sean Ryan, Senior Vice President for Administration and Trustee Affairs, effective August 1, 2020.
Dr. Paul Gore, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, will co-chair the search with Bellarmine Trustee Barry Fields ‘88. Other committee members include Trustee Don Berg; Dr. Helen-Grace Ryan, vice president for Student Affairs; Dr. Mike
Marshall, vice president for Enrollment, Marketing and Communication; Dr. Joy Jacobs-Lawson, associate professor of Psychology; Tina Kauffmann, associate vice president for Development and Alumni Relations; and Trey Grevious, president of the Student
Government Association. The committee will be assisted in their search by Isaacson-Miller, an executive search firm with a record of success in higher education leadership placements, and will be supported by Calene Baldwin.