As an accountant, Russell Meekins loves numbers, but he also has a knack for looking at the people behind them.
“One of my former bosses described me as a CPA in human being’s clothing,” Meekins said Wednesday.
Meekins will get to oversee some rather large numbers when he becomes executive director of the University of South Carolina’s educational and development foundations on Jan. 1.
The foundations hold $450 million in assets used to pay for scholarships, professorships and various projects. Those holdings include $55 million in property.
Meekins succeeds Jerry Odom, retiring after 43 years at the university where he has been chemistry department chairman, science and math dean, and provost. Odom has led the foundations for the past six years.
After stints at three private companies, Meekins started working at the foundations in 1995. He has been chief financial officer since 1997. The Florence native earned finance and accounting degrees from USC.
Meekins, who is listed as an adjunct USC faculty member, earns $163,431 a year, according to the state database. Odom was paid $210,000 in 2011, according to the foundations’ tax filings.
Meekins worked in the development of the Inn at USC, the Children’s Center at USC and the Carolina baseball stadium. In his new role, he looks to help with development work in the Innovista research campus and to win more funding for the foundations.
Odom said Meekins brings a strong knowledge of banking, especially useful in making land deals. The foundations director also oversees a $300 million investment portfolio that has been first or second in returns among the Southeastern Conference’s public schools during the past three years, Meekins said.
“The transition will be smooth and easy,” Odom said. “He is a great people person.”
Odom said he plans to relax at his home on Lake Wateree and play tennis. But he also is looking at some consulting for a Washington group, helping write science grants.