The University of Texas Co-op adds a New CEO

Some of you might know I’m on several great nonprofit boards here in Austin, TX. One of those is the University of Texas C0-op. As an outside director for the Co-op I’ve enjoyed learning the retail business from a nonprofit perspective inside and out. I’ve also learned that the University Co-op has been in business for 120 years, and is a nonprofit organization owned by the students, faculty and staff of The University of Texas at Austin. The Co-op has returned more than $34 million to the university in gifts, grants, and rebates since 2000! Something I’m very proud to be a part of. I’m also proud to announce that we have a new CEO. I was honored to be a part of the management selection committee that helped find her. And for any of you that have been involved in an executive search before, you can understand the on-the-job education I received in doing this. Something no MBA program could ever teach you.

I’m proud to join my fellow board members to announce the appointment of Cheryl Phifer as our new President and Chief Executive Officer effective February 1, 2016. Phifer brings extensive senior executive leadership experience from her long and successful tenure at Barnes & Noble and other national retailers. Most recently, she held the position of Regional Vice President, Operations at Barnes & Noble Inc., and was responsible for a region with 135 stores with $730M annual sales volume within 13 states.

A highly accomplished and forward thinking retail executive with consistent track record of exceeding expectations, Phifer brings to the role, among other talents, an extensive knowledge of store operations, positive “people first” leadership style and more importantly – strong passion to serve her alma mater. She is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and has been a Life Member of the Texas Exes since 1987.

“We are very excited to welcome Cheryl Phifer to this position. Thanks to  Lehman Associates – a local executive search firm, we were able to make a great choice in selecting the next leader of the Co-op. The Board is confident that Cheryl is uniquely qualified to lead the organization into the future, so that we can provide the type of support to the university that helps it change the world,” said Dr. Michael G. Hasler, Chair of the University Co-op Board of Directors.

Cheryl Phifer is succeeding George H. Mitchell, who is retiring after 29 years of leading the iconic store through unprecedented growth. “When you have been leading an organization as long as I have, it becomes your offspring in a way and the employees become a family, and that is why I feel extremely happy to be leaving the Co-op in good hands. Getting to know Cheryl in the past few weeks has given me the total confidence that she will take the organization to new heights,” said Mitchell of his successor.

Send her a tweet (@universitycoop) and welcome her aboard!