When Joanne Yestramski was a business student at UMass Lowell in the mid-1970s, she was a minority. Few women were enrolled in the accounting program, but that didn't faze her.
“I grew up working on my family’s potato farm with five brothers and three sisters,” she says. “Looking back, I think my family environment prepared me for the male-dominated business world.”
Yestramski also took with her a strong work ethic that’s still with her today. As vice chancellor of finance and operations, she oversees administrative departments such as accounting, facilities, human resources, budgeting, information technology, parking and more – all areas that keep the University humming. After two decades of working in higher education at both public and private institutions in New England, she came to work at her alma mater in 2008.
“To come back full circle to work at the University that gave me a strong education and the connections that have helped me succeed personally and professionally was very humbling,” says Yestramski. “Working at UMass Lowell feels like a family environment. It’s just how I felt as a student. We were a very close-knit group back then, and that’s how I feel now.”
That close-knit group included her future husband, Charles, who was also a student. The couple got married on campus, one year before Yestramski graduated.
UMass Lowell also feels like home to her because today’s student experience closely resembles her own.
“UMass Lowell students are hardworking — they have a strong work ethic, have part-time jobs and are driven to have careers,” she says. “My advice for students is to find balance in your life, have fun, exercise, live life in moderation and avoid extremes.”
Yestramski continues to reach for new ground. She was recently selected to participate in the American German Fulbright Experts Seminar “Do More With Less – Implementing Change in Higher Education Management” in Germany. The week-long event compared management at U.S. and German universities to identify best practices in the areas of administration, management and finance. She was one of 15 from the U.S. who visited five German universities in Berlin, Belefeld and Hamburg to share best practices, listen and learn.
“This seminar really fit with my background identifying educational efficiencies,” says Yestramski. “It was a life-changing experience that emphasized even more the importance of international outreach and collaboration.”
The experience also reinforced that the University’s financial strategies are on target.
She says: “UMass Lowell is ahead of most higher education institutions in many ways, including our entrepreneurial approach to growing new revenue sources, cost efficiency and avoidance practices, and multi-year operating and capital planning.”