BENNINGTON - Southern Vermont College announced the appointment of a new financial executive Tuesday with nearly two decades of past experience in both higher education and the corporate sector.

Claire Wurmfeld, who most recently served as associate vice president of financial planning at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., was appointed to the position.

She'll be on campus starting July 8.

The new chief financial officer/chief operating officer replaces James Beckwith, the former CFO who resigned and was under investigation for embezzlement when he committed suicide in February. Beckwith was accused of siphoning a total $550,000 from SVC, the bulk of which occurred during his tenure as acting president during the leave of President Karen Gross last year.

In a written release announcing the appointment this week, Gross said the college community was delighted to welcome Wurmfeld as the new CFO/COO.

"Claire brings remarkable experience in both higher education and corporate finance, and we know she will enrich our community with her wisdom, work ethic and the value she places on teamwork and staff development," Gross said. "I am confident that under her watch, SVC's finances and operations will be in good hands indeed."

During her time at the Florida Institute of Technology, Wurmfeld was responsible for managing an operating budget of more than $32 million and was instrumental in a restructuring of the university's operations to help reduce costs and production time.

At SVC, Wurmfeld will oversee financial operations including long-range growth planning, cost and benefit analysis, and yearly budget development.

Wurmfeld said she was excited to be joining the team and moving closer to family and friends. "I look forward to serving the students, the school and the community," she said. "This wonderful opportunity will allow my husband and me to move to Vermont after having been in Florida for 15 years."

Wurmfeld received her bachelor's degree in accounting from Rhode Island's Providence College and her master's from the University of Central Florida. She is a licensed certified public accountant and a board member of Independent Colleges and Universities Benefits Association.

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