Faculty image Chandler W. Matthews Associate Vice President for Finance 1989-1995 University Administration
Biography/Memoir

In recognition of his more than twenty-five years of distinguished service to the University of Michigan, most recently as interim executive vice president and chief financial officer, the Regents commend and express deep gratitude to a trusted adviser and friend, Chandler W. Matthews.

Mr. Matthews, who retired from the University in 1995, graciously agreed to return in January 1997 to serve as interim executive vice president and chief financial officer. Drawing on his great love of the University, understanding of people, and breadth of experience as associate vice president for finance from 1989-95 and as controller from 1970-89, Mr. Matthews has brought a quiet strength and continuity of leadership to the University during a time of transition. He has wisely and skillfully overseen the University's financial affairs, as well as its business operations, physical plant, human resources, and safety and security organizations. His strong sense of integrity and commitment to ethical business practices have set the tone for those units under his direction. Under his interim leadership, the University's endowment grew to $2 billion and, for the first time, the University issued commercial paper, an inexpensive and advantageous way for it to borrow money for the short term.

With heartfelt appreciation for his loyalty, his numerous contributions to the University, and particularly, for his willingness to temporarily postpone his personal plans, the Regents express their gratitude and offer best wishes to Chandler W. Matthews for a long, healthy, and fulfilling retirement.

Regents' Resolution, November Meeting, 1997, page 135

 

 

Obiturary

 

Chandler William Matthews died at home on July 6, 2013, of non-Hodgkin’slymphoma. He was born on November 1, 1929, in Dixon, Illinois, the cherished only child of Ralph William Matthews and Mary Louise (Chandler) Matthews. (There were many only children born during the Great Depression.)  The household included his maternal Aunt Marge, who taught fifth grade in his elementary school, and he was the first grandchild of his maternal grandparents. He spent several weeks with them every childhood summer in Montfort, a Wisconsin village so small that everyone there knew him as “Mary’s boy.” His was an idyllic childhood, and it formed him.

At war’s end, he moved with his parents to Rockford, Illinois. After high school he went on to Beloit (WI) College and was graduated in 1951 with a degree in Economics. He entered the draft for the Army soon afterward. Many of his friends went to Korea, but he was sent to England. (“I had a lucky place in the line,” he always said.) He spent two years honing his typing skills in Oxfordshire, within striking distance of London, where he spent his free weekends. He fell in love with the ballet, attending dozens of performances at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. With the theater, as well.  On leaves, he travelled throughout postwar Europe, experiencing the kindness of the people and exposing his novice palate to Camembert, escargot, and wine. (He knew beer.) He was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant.

With the help of the GI Bill, he enrolled in the School of Business at the University of Michigan, where he earned a master’s degree in 1956. He joined the Overseas Division of General Motors, then based in New York City. Manhattan was a magnet then as now, and in the late fifties Greenwich Village was ungentrified--shabby, diverse, alive with music and early off-Broadway theater—and affordable for young newcomers. He fell in with a group whose core was fellow Midwesterners, a few from Beloit, several from the University of Michigan. On August 8, 1959, Chandler married one of them, Mary Marsh, at her parents’ home in Grand Rapids, in a double ceremony with Mary’s sister. The couple lived in the East Village until, with their two young children, they were sent to Caracas, Venezuela, where Chandler became assistant controller of the GM assembly plant there. Their four years in Caracas were memorably happy and gave them lifelong friends.

In 1970, now with three children, the family left both Venezuela and General Motors and returned to Ann Arbor, where Chandler joined the university as Controller under Financial Vice-President Wilbur K. Pierpont. (“I like the product better here,” he said.) A bonus to the family’s being in Ann Arbor was the presence on the faculty of two of Chandler’s much-loved uncles, Joseph Chandler and David Chandler. As Controller and later as Associate Vice-President for Finance, Chandler was responsible for managing financial operations, payroll, investments, contract administration, risk management, the Cashier’s office, and the Benefits office. He served on a number of regular and ad hoc committees requiring financial direction, among them those related to staff benefits and the University Press. He delighted in signing--with the mechanical behemoth that reproduced your signature multiple times as you wrote--the bonds that financed the building of the Main Hospital in 1985, and he helped to establish the university’s own insurance company, Veritas, in 1986. When he retired in 1995, then Vice-President Farris Womack called him “the personification of the very best professionals in higher education . . . We will be able to find a successor for Chandler, but we won’t be able to find a replacement for him.”

A year and a half later, Chandler was asked to return as Interim Vice-President for Finance under Interim President Homer Neal. He retired for a second time in November 1997.  Throughout his career, he was respected for his integrity and his kindness. He led by quiet example, mentored discreetly, was unfailingly loyal to the university and to his own staff, and was instinctively ethical.

In retirement, Chandler and Mary travelled together: to New York City yearly to indulge their nostalgia and their love of theater; to Ireland twice to visit Peter and his partner, Charlie, and to be escorted by them around not only Ireland but also Spain; and to China. But he loved to be at home and in Ann Arbor, his heart’s hometown. He served quietly and long on the boards of Avalon Housing and Canterbury House. At St. Andrew’s Church, he served on the vestry and chaired or co-chaired several hard-work committees, including the capital campaign and the committee to replace the aged organ. He didn’t seek recognition. His priorities were clear: family, work, service. He was extraordinarily generous, sharing what treasure as well as what time he had.  His family, like those who knew him best, appreciated his wry wit: he was an observer, a listener, whose soft-spoken zingers were never mean.

Chandler leaves his wife, Mary; his son, Peter, and Peter’s life partner, Charles Brennan; his daughter, Mildred (Middy); and three grandchildren, Grace, Dylan, and Bella. His daughter Kate died in 2006.  He also leaves sisters-in-law Nancy (Gordon) Nitz and Jean (Harold) Koorndyk and their families; several cousins; and many devoted friends. His family thanks Dr Sami Malek of the Cancer Center and the caring doctors, nurses, techs, and other staff of Mott Children’s Hospital Adult Hematology Unit (7W) and of the hematology unit (8A) at the Main Hospital; of Glacier Hills Care and Rehabilitation Center; and of Arbor Hospice. They treated Chandler with compassionate professionalism throughout his last journey.

 

 

 

Reflections/Stories
U of M Libraries | Millennium Project | Contact Us