USHE expands executive team, fills CFO role

new hires, tennert, adams

The Utah System of Higher Education welcomes Juliette M. Tennert as chief financial officer and Taylor K. Adams as associate commissioner for strategic initiatives within the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. Both Tennert and Adams will assume their new roles in January 2022.

Tennert joins the Commissioner’s office with over a decade and a half of experience on Utah’s Capitol Hill and the University of Utah campus. She most recently served as chief economist and a founding managing director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. 

Adams joins the Commissioner’s office from Utah State University, where she served most recently as assistant vice president for statewide campuses.

“Both Tennert and Adams have the experience and track record that will make them successful in their new roles with USHE,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme, commissioner of higher education. “We are excited to have their fresh perspectives in the Office of the Commissioner that will help us grow and provide the highest quality guidance to the Utah Board of Higher Education and system.”

As CFO, Tennert will oversee the Finance and Facilities unit and staff the Board’s Finance and Facilities Committee. The Finance and Facilities unit provides internal financial and business services to the Commissioner’s office and System leadership and coordination for USHE institutions in the areas of budget, finance, accounting, debt issuance, facilities and purchasing. The unit also assists the Board to create an annual budget request for the Governor and legislature, prioritize institutional building needs, issue bonds and approve institutional tuition and fee adjustments.

Prior to Tennert’s time with the University of Utah, she served as the state budget director and chief economist for Governor Gary Herbert, chief economist for Governor Jon Huntsman, and as a fiscal analyst for the Utah State Legislature. Tennert holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago, a master’s degree in economics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, and is an adjunct instructor of economics and public finance courses at the University of Utah.

As associate commissioner for strategic initiatives, Adams will focus on students’ journeys from high school to college and college to the workforce. The system aims to strengthen community, education and business partnerships across the state to improve education pathways for all students within USHE.

For the past 10 years, in various student affairs, teaching, and administrative roles at USU, Adams led initiatives across the state of Utah to serve students in technical education and degree-granting programs. Adams currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Bridgerland Technical College and received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from USU. She is currently earning her Doctor of Education at Oregon State University.