July 3, 2024

York College Set Stage for Alumnus to Become York County Controller

5-Minute Read

York College of Pennsylvania graduate Gregory Bower ’73 put his degree in Accounting and Business Administration to use around the world before returning to York and running for elective office.

Gregory Bower ’73 was running for York County Controller in 2017 but never expected to win. Bower joined the race late, found little time to campaign, and was up against two other candidates. 

The night of the primary election, he attended a gathering to support a friend seeking the post of Recorder of Deeds. He had his concession speech written. 

“Halfway through the night, a guy on the computer jumped up and said, ‘Greg, you’re going to win this thing!’ ” Bower says. “He said I was so far ahead, they’ll never catch me.” 

In November of 2017, he was elected, and on Jan. 1, 2018, Bower began serving his first term as County Controller, a position to which he was re-elected for a second term and hopes to win again in 2025. 

From Fortune 100 firms to county controller

As Controller, Bower oversees the financial operations of York County, maintaining detailed records of departmental funds, managing payroll, and paying most of the bills for the County through accounts payable. He and his team of 16 employees are responsible for preparing and filing financial statements; collaborating with external auditors; auditing the row offices, tax collectors, magisterial district justice offices; and managing the County’s retirement plan and investments. They also serve on various County boards, including Prison, Salary, and Retirement. 

“Most citizens have no idea what goes on in county government,” he says. 

Bower, who dual-majored in Accounting and Business Administration, never imagined he’d run for an elected position or oversee more than a half-billion dollars in County programs. But his affinity for accounting was evident early on. At 17, after graduating from William Penn Senior High School, he began studying at York Junior College, which became York College of Pennsylvania in 1968. 

After a year, he left to pursue full-time work at Caterpillar Inc. Higher education still had a strong pull, though, and after one year of work, he persuaded Caterpillar to grant him an educational leave of absence so he could complete work on his degree. 

Spending winters in school full-time and summers working at Caterpillar, Bower still found time to play three collegiate sports: soccer, basketball, and track and field, in which he competed as a pole vaulter. York College provided the perfect platform for him to thrive academically while pursuing his athletic interests. He made the Dean’s List nearly every semester. 

“I was really serious about studying and getting good grades,” he says. 

His dedication to his studies paid off, preparing him for the challenges that lay ahead in his career.

Standing with the best

Upon graduating, Bower became one of only 10 people around the country selected for Caterpillar’s accounting training program. His York College degree put him in a position to be competitive against students from some of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Through the program, Bower had opportunities to work across the country while earning an MBA from Bradley University. He went on to work at multiple Fortune 100 companies, where he honed his skills and gained invaluable experience. 

Despite his success in the corporate world, Bower felt a pull to return to his roots in York County. With his election as County Controller in 2017, he embraced the opportunity to serve his community and make a meaningful impact. His tenure has been marked by innovative initiatives for his team and for the County and by a dedication to fiscal responsibility.

One of the most notable aspects of Bower’s career is his commitment to nurturing talent from his alma mater, York College. With four alumni working under him and others who got their start in the Controller’s Office, Bower has seen the importance of quality education and hands-on learning in shaping successful careers. 

Bower looks for candidates who possess strong accounting knowledge and who demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow in the office. He often finds those traits in his fellow York College alumni. 

Natasha Rohrbaugh ’08 earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a minor in Criminal Justice and serves as Chief Deputy Controller. Elizabeth Shafer ’18 earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a minor in Management and is the County’s Second Deputy Controller. Jessica VanSickle ’06 earned a bachelor’s in Accounting with a minor in Finance and serves as Manager of Accountants, and Bret Reiber ’20 is using his bachelor’s in Accounting as a Senior Accountant. 

Tyler Chronister ’15, a Finance major, started in the Controller’s Office as Chief Deputy Controller and is now Chief Financial Officer. 

Patrick Clement ’18, who served as the Controller’s first intern, earned his bachelor’s degree in International Relations. He served as Audit Manager before moving on to Penn National Gaming, now known as Penn Entertainment.

Inspiring through collaboration

As a leader, Bower strives to inspire his team through collaboration and mentorship and by demonstrating a passion for his work. He invests in his team and aims to provide opportunities for growth while fostering a supportive environment where employees can thrive. His efforts have led to low turnover rates and a cohesive workforce dedicated to serving the community.

Eventually, he hopes to take what he’s learned and teach a class on government accounting at York College. 

“It’s just a great program and terrific professors that really care,” Bower says.

Reflecting on his varied career, Bower encourages students and recent graduates to seize opportunities, embrace challenges, and leverage the resources available to them. As he looks ahead to the next chapter in his career, he remains committed to using his degree and experience to serve York County. “It is an honor and a privilege to serve the taxpayers of York County,” he said.