‘UMSL chose me’: Alumna and Interim CFO Tanika Busch uses her role to help transform students’ lives

Tanika Busch

Tanika Busch, interim vice chancellor for Finance and Administration and chief financial officer, conducts a meeting with Brenda Hogenkamp (left) and Joann Wilkinson in her Woods Hall office. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Tanika Busch, University of Missouri–St. Louis interim vice chancellor for Finance and Administration and chief financial officer, offered a welcoming smile as she took a seat at the conference table in an office she never envisioned working in.

“I don’t like talking about myself,” she admitted.

She may be more comfortable helping others succeed than standing in the spotlight herself, but Busch has plenty to brag about.

She joined the UMSL community as an undergraduate student in the College of Business Administration, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in information systems and technology while doing clerical work in the Office of the Provost. Over the course of 22 years, she’s completed both her bachelor’s and an MBA, and her part-time student position set into motion a career that took her to the CFO office.

However, it wasn’t the career Busch intended when she enrolled at UMSL.

“I originally thought I wanted to be a programmer,” Busch said. “I was coming to UMSL to fulfill this defined path that I had created for myself in my teens. And then UMSL chose me. I mean, the path that I have had over the last 20 years, I did not choose it. It was an opportunity for me.”

Every day on the job brings new challenges, and that’s what she likes about serving as the interim vice chancellor and CFO. A natural problem-solver, she looks at each issue that comes across her desk as an opportunity to accomplish something.

Above all, her actions are motivated by what’s best for UMSL and its students.

“Our role in Finance Administration is to support the rest of the campus,” Busch said. “We’re here to be a partner with units ultimately working toward the same goals. We help by making sure that the financial performance of the campus is viable and sustainable in the long term and by providing necessary training and fiscal resources for the entire campus.”

In practice, supporting the various departments across campus comes down to little things like ensuring that students have a comfortable space to learn, along with bigger issues like balancing budgets.

Throughout each day, Busch keeps UMSL’s mission at the forefront: We transform lives.

“When you come here, you’re invested,” she said of UMSL’s faculty and staff. “You really are helping students achieve a goal, and it feels good.”

She knows firsthand the difference UMSL makes in the lives of its students because she’s walked in their shoes.

As she moved closer toward her degree, her responsibilities in her clerical role expanded and a natural next step was working full time in the College of Arts and Sciences, doing payroll and HR functions. During that time, she felt the need to take on a new challenge, which resulted in her completing an MBA.

After serving as the fiscal officer in Arts and Sciences for 10 years, Busch transferred into the director for financial planning role. After a year in this role, Busch was asked to serve as the interim vice chancellor and CFO in September 2019. It’s a job she didn’t imagine herself having 20 years ago, but it’s a role she is excited to fill.

“I enjoy what I’m doing because of the broad range of duties and the diversity of the job itself,” she said.

Busch’s secret to success is simple.

“Do the right thing,” she said. “And you know, history may tell us that there was a different move that would have been more appropriate, but you have to feel confident that you’re making the right decision at that moment and that you’re doing it for all of the right reasons.”

Ultimately, most of Busch’s career at UMSL has been focused on keeping the unit she is serving fiscally healthy. Meanwhile, she supports and encourages others within the campus community.

“I’m thankful for UMSL,” she said. “My career here has been a wonderful experience. I enjoy the connections that I’ve made on campus and at the other UM campuses. It’s great to have a place that I can go that is inclusive and we all support the same mission. I do believe that we are transforming lives here. We hear these stories every day from our students, and maybe I’m one of those students. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity without UMSL.”

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