This week, we are hearing from the Director of Budget, Finance and Administration to learn more about the financial side of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Becky has been with the museum for 26 years and has a lot of information to share with you!
Name: Becky Zurcher Trumble
Title: Director of Budget, Finance and Administration
Educational and professional background: I took art classes at Utah State University and the University of Oklahoma, and have always been drawn to painting and the creative side of life. Art and creativity make the world go round. But, as far as my background in accounting and finance, I was exposed to it at an early age and grew up with it in my blood. As soon as my dad, lifelong Norman resident Joe Tullius, graduated from OU in accounting, he started working at Tinker Air Force Base. But, as a young man in his twenties with a family, in addition to working his full time job, he started a private tax and accounting business working from our home during evenings and weekends. When tax season rolled around he would be so busy, with three or four appointments each evening. In addition to appointments, he would let clients leave their documents and he would work on those taxes in between appointments. My mom coordinated all of his scheduling. Keep in mind, this started back in the late ‘50s, way before the days of computers, internet, or such a thing as filing your taxes online. It was all done with good, old-fashioned hand-typed forms.
When I got old enough, being an only child and Daddy’s girl, I wanted to do whatever I could to be in his office to help him. This was limited to such small tasks as stapling papers together and sealing envelopes. But I remember countless hours sitting in his office, coloring and drawing while his fingers would speed along on that adding machine of his. I was enthralled with his ability to be so smart and do so much intellectually, while still being able to relate to people from the “human” side of things and talk to and explain why perhaps they were not getting a refund that year, or what they could possibly do to help their tax situation in the future. His clients and the townspeople of Norman loved him and I admired those talents in him. When he passed away at age 53, the business he had built was sold to a deserving young CPA here in Norman who has continued this successful practice to this day. So in many ways, my “professional background” began just as a child and observing my father in our home.
Why did you want to work in a museum? Actually, I was working in administration in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at OU when the position came open at the art museum. I knew the person who was leaving and she told me how wonderful it was here at the museum. The first time I walked into the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art for the interview, I fell in love with the creative vibe of the place and the pure inspiration that surrounds you when you walk through the galleries. Working with administration and numbers can be somewhat repetitive and boring, so being surrounded by art and creative energy provide the perfect balance to what I do.
How is museum administration different from administration at other organizations? Many places, when you work in administration, you never get the feeling that you are a part of the “big picture.” In other places, you come in each day – do your detailed tasks that make things happen behind the scenes – but it ends there. Working in administration at the art museum, and I suspect also because of my 26-year tenure here at the FJJMA, I feel that I truly have a voice in the things that we do and accomplish as a whole at the art museum, and that makes it very rewarding. I am not sure that sense of reward would exist at most other organizations.
Describe what your typical day looks like. Papers and computers, with some art thrown in on top!
Much of what I do entails making sure that proper procedures are being followed for all of the many administrative areas of the museum. Being part of a state institution of higher education, there are many regulations and requirements that must be followed and they are ever-changing. Staying on top of those is a major responsibility.
For me, no day is ever the same. I often jump from one task to another – sometimes working on as many as thirty or more things a day. I can be in the middle of working on the annual state budget submission and be pulled away to work on the agenda of the Board of Visitors meeting, then get a call from the museum’s registration dept. with a question about a shipping quote, followed by a question about a truck rental from our Preparation department who is driving out to New Mexico. Sometime during that same day I will need to check and approve payroll, followed by emails from or to museum donors, and then write a letter to a member of our museum’s Board of Visitors. At that point, I might be free to work on details for an upcoming board meeting, followed by printing out monthly reports for our over thirty different accounts. During my spare time, the account reconciliations must be done, as well as almost daily advising staff about what invoices should be paid from which account. This might all happen in the morning. The afternoon might include a meeting about the parking situation here on campus, or financial logistics about an upcoming exhibition or program. Then I might realize certain paperwork is due for a grant, or a vendor needs set up in the OU financial system to get paid. Independent contractor forms must be completed and sent out for a lecturer or writer to be paid, and I also might need to get a position posted on the OU job board, or look over applications prior to interviewing for the position. Throw in there doing budget revisions, freeze forms, calls from potential donors, just to name a few others. This is just a sampling of some of the many tasks that can occur on any given day in my world. Being able to multi-task is the key!
What is the favorite part of your job? There are two things. One is having the opportunity to meet and work with so many wonderful people, including our museum visitors, association members, supporters of the art in our community, visiting artists and guest speakers, docents, board members, university faculty, students, and all of the many people who care about art and museums in our society!
The second favorite part of my job is looking around as I make that walk from my office, through the museum at the end of a long, stressful day, and realizing that I play a part in making this amazing thing happen!