James F. Brinkerhoff, professor of business administration and former vice president and chief financial officer, will retire on June 30, 1989, after a career of extraordinary service to the University of Michigan.
Born in Chicago, Mr. Brinkerhoff attended public schools in Hamburg, New York, and attended Alma College from 1941-43. His education was interrupted by service with the United States Army in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, for which he was awarded the Silver Star in 1944. After the war, he earned his B.B.A. degree at the University of Toledo in 1947 and his M.B.A. degree at the University of Michigan in 1948.
Mr. Brinkerhoff began his professional career in 1948 as the personnel manager of Square D Company in Detroit. In 1951, he took a position with Argus Cameras in Ann Arbor, where, over the next ten years, he worked his way up from executive assistant to the president to vice president for operations. Mr. Brinkerhoff first came to the University of Michigan in 1962 as director of plant extension. In 1967, he was promoted to director of business
operations, and in 1970, associate vice president. In 1971, Mr. Brinkerhoff moved to the University of Minnesota, where he served as vice president for finance, planning, and operations (later expanded to vice president for finance and development) and professor of management. He returned to the University of Michigan in 1977 to assume the role of vice president and chief financial officer, and in 1984, he was named professor of business administration. He relinquished his role as vice president and chief financial officer in June of 1988.
In addition to his professional roles, Mr. Brinkerhoff has been an active participant in civic and community affairs. He served on the Ann Arbor City Council from 1958-60, and has served in leadership roles in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, United Fund, First Presbyterian Church, and other charitable and civic organizations
in Ann Arbor and Minneapolis. Mr. Brinkerhoffs expertise has benefited a wide variety of business, educational, and professional organizations; among the boards he has served on are Chemotronics International (chairman of the board from 1963-79); the American Management Association; the Eastern, Central and National Associations of College and University Business Officers; the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy; Alma College; College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF); Research Libraries Group (RLG); and General Automotive Corporation.
In all of his endeavors, Jim Brinkerhoff has exhibited outstanding qualities of leadership, integrity, and strength that have been of inestimable value to his colleagues, the Regents, and the University. As he enters this new phase of his life, the Regents trust that the University can continue to benefit from his sage counsel.
For his exemplary service, the Regents now name James F. Brinkerhoff Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Business Administration.
Regents’ Proceedings, June 1989, Page 278
After five years at Minnesota,
Jim Brinkerhoff is 'home' again
as VP and chief financial officer
Keeping Michigan Number One
Jim Brinkerhoff has a favorite
motto by which he likes to operate.
"If it weren't for them," it runs,
"there'd be none of us."
What he means, obviously, is
that, if it weren't for the University's faculty, there wouldn't be any
need to have administrators because there wouldn't be any students to teach.
James F. Brinkerhoff has "come
home" to the University of Michigan as vice president and chief
financial officer (succeeding Wilbur
K. Pierpont), a position most would
acknowledge as among the top administrative jobs at the U-M.
Brinkerhoff "came home" after
five years at the University of Minnesota as vice president for finance
and development. He holds an
MBA (1948) from Michigan and had
been an administrator here before
the Minnesota offer came.
Was it a difficult decision, electing to return to Ann Arbor? "Both Marge (Mrs. Brinkerhoff) and I enjoyed the Twin Cities, the state of Minnesota and the University very
much — but Ann Arbor has really
been our home since 1947. I told the
president of the University of Minnesota that the University of Michigan is the only institution that I
would have considered leaving
Filling up his battered old pipe
(with Amphora), Brinkerhoff said that his decision to return to Michigan was largely based on "which
was the most interesting management challenge — to keep Number
One as Number One or to be in the
middle of the pack and driving for
the Number One status. Obviously, I thought that keeping
Number One on top was the
tougher of the problems."
Asked what he sees as the major
problems facing the University to-
day, Brinkerhoff mentioned first
"the obvious problem of morale in
the faculty and staff. Trying to
achieve a high morale when
everyone has been operating under
more and more stringent budget
conditions creates a problem — and
yet, I don't think it is in surmountable. Dollars need not be the primary
force in order to achieve a high level
of incentive, a high level of initiative and a strong drive to succeed
and to maintain top-flight academic
Will the Brinkerhoff approach
differ significantly from the Pierpont approach?
"The key difference, I suppose,
would be the product of our dissimilar backgrounds. Bill came
more through the academic enterprise, rather than from industry, as
I did. He came out of the cost accounting area and that may be contrasted with my background in
labor relations and general management. I have always been more
substantially at ease in the fields of
personnel management and labor
relations, but less at ease in the
fields of accounting, cashiering functions and the investment area.
That is not to say that Bill was insensitive to the personnel and human
relations factors, nor is it to say that
my five years at Minnesota didn't
sensitize me to the needs of the accounting and financial operations
of the institution.
"I guess that would pretty much
highlight the difference in our approaches to the job. I suppose one
other factor is that, in the last five to
eight years, Bill has not participated
as directly in the legislative or appropriations processes, where as I
was thrown into that operation on a
first-line basis at Minnesota."
Do you expect to be involved in
those processes here?
"That depends on what the
president wishes in terms of the structure here, but it would certainly indicate an area in which I've
had some practical experience. "
"My initial objective is to familiarize myself with the internal operations that report to me. I will be
spending a good deal of time with
each of the deans and some major
departments ... to find out how
they visualize what's going on in
their shops, both the good things
and the bad things."
Brinkerhoff said he wants to be
sure "there is a minimum of redundancy in activities on the campus.
One of the things that concerns me
is that, over the years, there's been a
fairly substantial increase — quite
appropriately — in the administrative capacity of the various deans'
offices. I'm not sure that that has
been offset by reductions in the
central offices. I'm not dedicated to
the concept that it's more efficient
to do everything centrally because,
as soon as you move along that line,
you tend to lose the incentives
which tire appropriate for the development of the capacity of the
As for his side interests, Jim
Brinkerhoff likes golf and small boat sailing (they've maintained a cottage at nearby Base Lake, but unfortunately it burned to the ground
while the Brinkerhoffs were attending the Rose Bowl game).
"I'm always having some novel
or another going, but my primary
at-home reading is business reading because my days are pretty well taken up by meetings." Do you
watch TV? "Basically I watch football, Big Ten basketball and Baa Baa
Blacksheep. I enjoy that since I was
in the Pacific during World War II."
In his earlier days in Ann Arbor,
Jim Brinkerhoff served on the Ann
Arbor City Council (as a Republican), as chairman of the United Fund, as president of the Rotary
Club, and in many of the chairs at the First Presbyterian Church.
If you had your absolute choice,
Jim Brinkerhoff, what job would
you be in today?
" I would like to be vice president
and chief financial officer of the
University of Michigan — in Cored
His battered pipe in place, James Brinkerhoff (left) discusses his goals as the
U-M's new vice president and chief financial officer.
The Michigan Alumnus, March 1, 1977, Page 18