Holding the financial reigns of Hardin-Simmons University
for more than 20 years, senior vice president for finance and management Harold
Preston will be retiring at the end of the 2014 spring semester.
During his career at HSU, he has overseen the operation of
the HSU business office, accounting, technology services, human resources, the
HSU post office, maintenance, print shop, Six White Horses program, and the
operation of all buildings and facilities on the campus. He can also be
credited for much of the beauty of the campus.
Preston’s influence can be seen in institutions across Texas
as he mentored many finance officers over the last 25 years. He has served at
two Texas Baptist universities and is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in
the U.S. Army as a 1st Lieutenant in a field artillery unit.
Preston first came to HSU as a student, earning a Bachelor
of Business Administration degree in 1969 and a Master of Business Administration
degree in 1972 after his military service. While a student, he served in the ROTC
and was on the HSU golf team.
With an MBA in hand, Preston started his career at Howard
Payne University, Brownwood, Texas, advancing to the university’s
administration as vice president for financial affairs.
HSU President Dr. Lanny Hall worked as a fellow vice
president with Preston at HPU under the administration of Dr. Don Newbury. When
Hall was named 13th president of Hardin-Simmons University, he convinced
Preston to turn his talents to his alma mater.
“I knew he had the tenacity, the temperament and the ability
to do this job. I also knew that he had two degrees from HSU and that he loved
this institution. When I presented the opportunity to return to The Forty
Acres, he answered affirmatively and I knew he would do an excellent job,” said
Hall cites Mr. Preston’s most significant contribution to
HSU as his diligent effort to improve the financial condition of HSU. “He
has worked hard to focus on efficiency in university operations, with great
attention to the bottom line. Under his financial leadership, the debt of the
university has been significantly reduced. The university’s debt is at its
lowest level in 22 years. Given the growth in programming over this time, that
is remarkable,” said Hall.
Preston has been a mentor to many university business officers
throughout his career, investing much time in helping others tackle the complex
job. Over the last 13 years, he has hosted periodic meetings of the chief
finance officers, controllers, IT directors, maintenance directors, human
resource directors, and financial aid directors for five institutions.
Other contributions and involvements beyond HSU include serving
as the financial reader for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a
volunteer job he has held since 1991. In 2007, SACS honored him with the James
T. Rogers Meritorious Service Award.
An avid golfer, Preston has added to the fundraising successes
of dozens of golf tournaments over the years, participating in the HSU Cowboy
Classic, the Joe Black Golf Classic, and the Lettermen Golf Tournament to benefit
Beyond his victories as a budget-conscience financial
officer for HSU, Preston has also served First Baptist Church of Abilene on
numerous committees and as a teacher in adult Sunday school classes for more
than 20 years.
Preston and his wife Susan, a retired nurse practitioner,
have two children. Their son Matt and daughter-in-law Shona live in Abilene and
have three children, Claire, Laura, and Luke. Their son Ben and his wife
Melissa live in Portland, Oregon.
He will be honored at a retirement luncheon on campus May 1,
2014, 11:45 a.m., Van Ellis Theatre. Preston will retire after 22 years at HSU May