John Sideras, executive vice president and chief financial officer, to retire after 17 years at CWRU

When John Sideras joined Case Western Reserve in 2008, he expected to be here six months. Faced with a $30 million deficit, the university was in a dire financial situation. Sideras, then the president and former CEO of the MetroHealth System, agreed to step in on an interim basis to steady the ship.

Photo of John Sideras
John Sideras

Drawing on 30 years of experience as a finance executive across four of the university’s hospital partners, Sideras accomplished that feat and then some. When CWRU leadership asked him to consider staying on just three months into his tenure, Sideras agreed—first committing to a three-year extension before ultimately spending the latter third of his career at the university.

“The challenge of the financial situation, its complexity and gravity, is why I stayed,” Sideras reflected. “Now, the university’s financial condition is completely rebuilt.”

Today, President Eric W. Kaler has announced that Sideras will retire from Case Western Reserve, effective Jan. 31, 2025. The university will soon launch a national search for his successor. 

Making his mark

After graduating from John Carroll University, Sideras went west to earn his Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado. He first put his education to use at St. Luke’s Medical Center before advancing into the C-suite at University Hospitals in the ‘80s, Cleveland Clinic in the ‘90s and MetroHealth in the 2000s. 

Those roles led Sideras to many accomplishments—including earning Magnet Recognition from the American Nursing Association and successfully leading a multi-year effort to have an Ohio Medicaid Plan amendment approved by Congress. It also left him well-acquainted with Case Western Reserve. He regularly crossed paths with university leaders and occasionally lectured on campus, effectively learning CWRU’s history and traditions before even coming on board.

“The role here dovetailed the first two-thirds of my career at large academic institutions,” Sideras explained, reflecting on his ability to institute a new operating and capital-budget model for the Division of Finance. “After experiencing a serious deficit in 2007, CWRU was able to make strategic moves, restore financial stability, build liquidity and grow enrollment. We’ve now posted 17 years of consecutive surpluses and overseen $2 billion in net economic growth.”

While he’s managed the finances for numerous capital projects over the years, Sideras is most proud of the two new residence halls in the South Residential Village—a project he’s helped steward from concept to planning to opening.

For all he’s accomplished, Sideras credits his colleagues along the way for his success.

“The staff that I have—they’re just remarkable individuals,” he said. “They’re distinctly competent professionals. They’re a real honor to work with.” 

A long-lasting impact

For his part, Sideras’ influence hasn’t gone unnoticed. Today, the credit agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s afford Case Western Reserve among the strongest credit ratings they offer, evidence of the outgoing CFO’s rigorous and strategic approach.

And, in 2019, Crain’s Cleveland Business recognized Sideras with its C-Suite Award for his success strengthening financial management and accountability across the university.

Having served several presidents at CWRU, Sideras has earned their universal respect as well.

“What John has accomplished during his time at Case Western Reserve University is truly exceptional,” said President Kaler. “His deep knowledge, attention to detail and strategic decision making has put the university in the financially strong place we enjoy today and, importantly, positions us well for our future. We are grateful to John for his service and wish him success in his retirement.”

With regard to the future, Sideras feels confident the university is in good hands.

“Working with President Kaler has been the perfect capstone to a 47-year career, thanks to his wisdom, experience and competencies,” he said. 

When asked what qualities he hopes the next CFO possesses, Sideras’ answer is simple: “Integrity, candor, respect for others… and, of course, a good sense of humor.”

As for himself, Sideras looks forward to spending his retirement in one of his favorite places: outdoors. A fly fisherman of more than 40 years and Registered Maine Guide for fly fishing, Sideras intends to serve his community instructing and promoting the sport.