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  • DFA Open Houses
  • Strategic Planning Meetings
  • A Campus Tour of AFI
  • COVID & Financial Responsibility
Hello, Division of Finance and Administration colleagues, 
How many times this year did we stop, look at each other and say: “2020, right?” Or words to that effect. The past 11-plus months – particularly the last nine or so – have tested our patience and resilience. How remarkable, then, is the strength we found in each other as the UC Merced community navigates a worldwide health and economic crisis. We leaned on colleagues as we adjusted to new ways of working and living, and as constant change became the new normal. 

Amid extraordinary conditions we’re discovering our nimbleness and confirming that our co-workers and colleagues are rock stars. The Division can look back with pride at completing the Merced 2020 construction project, keeping the Alpha Financials project on track, and serving the needs of those who still work and learn on campus. Every member of DFA, from financial virtuosos to personnel experts to AFI’s extraordinary staff, have done themselves proud. 

Yes, there are compelling reasons to pack 2020 into a rocket and fire it into the sun. But perhaps, someday, we’ll look back on this year as a time when we discovered the best versions of ourselves. 
Take care and be well,
The DFA Transition Leadership Team:
Gerry Elizondo 
Luanna Putney 
Kurt Schnier 
Please remember that there are two more DFA Open House events on Zoom coming up, including one this week:
The Open Houses give Division colleagues an opportunity to check in with each other and receive updates from the DFA leadership transition team. Please make sure you have the latest version of Zoom so you can participate in the meetings’ breakout rooms. Download the latest Zoom software here.

DFA Suggestion Box: If you have questions or ideas you'd like to be addressed at the DFA Open Houses, please share them here. All posts are anonymous. 
UC Merced leaders, in coordination with the UC Office of the President, are developing cost savings necessitated by economic stresses from the coronavirus pandemic. On Dec. 4, Interim CFO Kurt Schnier and Chief of Staff to the Chancellor Luanna Putney outlined the university's budget and presented options for an employee salary/time reduction program as a cost-saving measure.

A page has been posted on the DFA site where you can watch a video of the town hall and see the Kurt's slide presentation. Most important, answers to the many questions posed at the meeting are being posted there.

Please take the survey: There are three options for the salary/time reduction plan; employees are asked to complete a brief survey in which they can indicate their preference. Please complete the survey by EOB Thursday, Dec. 10.
The process of searching for a new vice chancellor and chief financial officer is continuing. The search advisory committee (roster below) has convened, with the goal of conducting interviews with finalist candidates in February 2021. Search firm Isaacson Miller is working with us in the process. 
  • Vice Chancellor of Physical Operations, Planning and Development Mike McLeod – Committee Chair 
  • Director of Operations and Chief of Staff, Office of Research and Economic Development John Jackson 
  • Dir of Procurement Josh Dubroff 
  • Dean of the School of Engineering Mark Matsumoto 
  • Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Charles Nies 
  • Interim Vice Chancellor of the Office of Research and Economic Development Marjorie Zatz 
  • Assistant Vice Chancellor of Financial Planning and Analysis Bianca Khanona 
  • Associate Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer Dania Matos 
  • Faculty Representative Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes 
  • Undergraduate Student Representative Citlalli Gamino 
  • Graduate Student Representative Cintia Quesada 
  • Staff Representative Ian Cooke 
The latest information about the CFO search will be provided at DFA Open Houses and in upcoming DFA Update newsletters.
UC Merced has started the process of developing the university’s first campus-wide strategic plan. The initiative, called Imagine 2030, will guide UC Merced for the next decade.
Zoom meetings have been scheduled to give DFA staff an opportunity to express your ideas and thoughts about the strategic plan. Your contributions will: 
  • Help identify what will distinguish us as a research university and a UC campus 
  • Identify the high-level initiatives/strategies the campus will undertake to advance the goals 
  • Inform revisions to the goals
There are four meetings, with DFA units assigned to one of them. This will reduce the size of each 60-minute meeting and, combined with breakout sessions, make it easier for your voices to be heard. 

If you are unable to attend a meeting, or if you come up with an idea after one, you can contribute directly at the strategic planning website. The siteincludes a place where staff can post their thoughts. All contributions are anonymous. 
Welcome to Cristina Lomeli, the newest member of the DFA family. Cristina, a Merced native and UC Merced graduate, joins the Division as an academic payroll analyst with Payroll Services. He comes to us from Central Unified School District in Fresno, where she held a position in accounts payable. Before that, she spent four years as a relationship banker with Chase Bank. Lomeli said she’s happy to be back in her hometown. “I’m excited to work for UC Merced and witness its growth as a campus and across my community,” she said. 

Welcome, Cristina!
The finish line is in sight for the 125-plus people who have worked on the transformative Alpha Financials project, which will convert UC Merced’s financial processes to Oracle Cloud technology. The team is on target for its go-live date of Jan. 4, 2021.

Here is a taste of more than two years of work, by the numbers: 
Numerous staff from Business Financial Services and Financial Planning & Analysis played important roles in testing and training. A special thanks to these designated Subject Matter Experts on the project:
  • Kim Groesbeck – Business Owner
  • Emily Bustos – Functional Lead
  • Kelli Maxey – Budget Lead, CCoA team
  • Arturo Martinez – General Accounting SME, CCoA team, Fixed Assets, Accounts Receivable and Gifts & Endowment teams
  • Lindsay Daniels – Contracts & Grants SME, CCoA team, Accounts Receivables, Fixed Assets and Gift & Endowments teams, Project Coordinator
  • Marianna Eastman – CCoA team
  • Jennifer Riedeman – Cash Management & Accounts Payable SME
  • Todd Knittel – Procurement SME
  • Josh Dubroff – Procurement team
  • Chris Robinson – Collections SME, Accounts Receivables team, Banner integration team
  • Lori Callaway – Fixed Assets Team 
  • Craig Ledebur – Foundation & Gifts & Endowment teams
  • Carla Krogh – Cashnet integration team
  • Lisa Hua – Oracle Business Systems Analyst, UCPath integration team
  • Sudheer Paka – Oracle Business Systems Analyst
  • Saloni Jogai – Oracle Business Systems Analyst
  • Melissa Tessier – Oracle Business Systems Analyst, UCLA Switch over lead
  • Mubeena Salaam – Business Systems Analyst, Glacier, UCPath integration team
  • Nirmala Mummaneni – Oracle Business Systems Analyst
  • Gina Vieira – Project Coordination
  • Christine Yap – Project support
Work is progressing on a streamlined ServiceNow portal that will be accessed at the main DFA website. With the Oracle Cloud system, Concur, GLACIER and Effort Reporting scheduled to go live in January 2021, new ServiceNow requests will be available for direct routing to areas such as Financial Systems Support, General Accounting, Chart of Accounts, Project and Portfolio Management, Tax Services, and Travel and Expense Management. Additionally, existing Center for Business Services and Solutions (CBS2) tickets with processes related to the new systems will be updated. 
The new portal organizes service requests and clearly lists the information need to successfully file one. It will reduce reliance on group email and provide a better way to manage tasks, with metrics and reporting. Additional request forms will be released in 2021 that support DFA business needs, including Accounts Payable, Treasury, Student Business Services, Cashiering, Human Resources, and Payroll.
The university’s reimbursement systems for travel and other personal expenses management will go dark later this month to prepare for the debut of Concur, the new platform. The shutdown will last from Dec. 14 through Jan. 3.

Concur is scheduled to go live Jan. 4, the same day the full Oracle Cloud platform is set to launch. Congratulations to Project Manager Melissa Tessier and Functional Lead Tracy England for shepherding this project, which will package its streamlined features in a convenient mobile app.
Conflict Resolution Coach Luke Wiesner’s thoughtful pieces about effective communication, which have appeared weekly in Monday Memo, are now collected in a new home – a blog on the Human Resources site. The format gives Luke’s advice more room to breathe, and allows you to browse earlier posts, such as this one on encouraging non-verbal communication during a Zoom call. Alerts about his latest posts will continue to appear in Monday Memo. 
Gerry Elizondo, DFA’s chief of staff, is supporting Auxiliary Enterprise and Fiscal Innovation on the transition leadership team. Last month, Gerry spent a day on campus visiting with AFI staff and leaders.

With the TAPS team, she toured the new parking spaces and pathways and took a spin on the new Cottonwood Loop. She visited the new Conference Center and residence halls, checked out the progress of the new Campus Store, and watched the Dining team gear up for lunch from The Pavillion. 

“I'm impressed and immensely proud of the hard work and dedication of the teams, who ensure continued service and safety for students and staff," Gerry said. The level of care and commitment people bring to their work is appreciated, and does not go unnoticed.” 
Each month, we turn a spotlight on a Division colleague to learn about their lives with UC Merced and beyond. Is there someone you would like to nominate for the monthly profile? Let us know

What is your job title? Auxiliaries Training and Employment Manager 

What does your job entail? I work with Auxiliaries departments to extend training opportunities to staff and assist with employment initiatives such as proactive planning and strategic recruitment. I also facilitate onboarding and offboarding, and act as a liaison to Human Resources. 
What do you enjoy the most about it? The best part of my job is collaborating with people in the organization to ensure resources are accessible so they are able to reach their goals and potential. I enjoy keeping up relationships with employees and, best of all, meeting and watching new UC Merced students grow from working on campus. You build lifelong relationships and really get to see the impact staff have on students, especially staff who are doing essential work. 

What’s one thing you want everyone to know about AFI? AFI might seem new and unfamiliar, but its people, many of them designated staff, are familiar to many of us. AFI’s departments have been servicing the campus since its inauguration. Dining, Housing, Campus Store and Transportation & Parking Services, as well as our partners at ECEC and in Residence Education, have a shared goal of student success – making resources equitable for current and future students. We appreciate and thank all who have been the boots on the ground, continuing to provide essential services through this pandemic, and making sure our students are fed and our working areas are safe and clean.

What do you do to relax? I want to say I take long hikes and read honorary literary pieces, but I actually enjoy watching sitcoms to unwind. Although I am an avid binge-watcher, you have to have a back-pocket comedy that allows you to sit back, relax and not worry about plot holes or require you to watch an explanation video. My latest sitcom, which I highly recommend, is “Parks and Recreation.” I was amazed by how some of the content mirrored what we are going through. We all need a bit of Leslie Knope in our lives right now.

What’s your comfort food? Potatoes. Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew! 

What’s your favorite magical or mythological creature? I thought a lot about this one. I was stuck on elves and gremlins. I chose gremlins (furry gremlins, not ones who turn scary when they get wet). Elves are cool and mystical, but furry gremlins are so cute and I dreamed of having one as a friend/pet. 

If you could live anyplace in the world for a year, where would it be and why? To experience any new place for a year would be an adventure. I think I would choose to live in Paris. I was there for one and a half days. We were steeped in culture and there was so much more to explore. I could learn so much in a year and it would be a wonderful experience, I think. 
Thanks to everyone who responded to last month's question: iPhone or Android? There were 31 responses: 
But enough about technology (for now). Let's get into the holiday spirit with the next question.
What's your favorite kind of pie?
Berry ("blue," "straw," "boysen" ... whichever)
Do you have questions? Feedback you want to share? Something you want to put into the next newsletter? Reach out via our Comment Box or by emailing us at dofa@ucmerced.edu
DFA Update, a newsletter for the Division of Finance and Administration, is published monthly. Follow these links to catch up on news in earlier issues: