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Mapping Out Our Future with a Strategic Plan

September 16, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

In 2012, UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland championed and began the conceptualization of the Merced 2020 Project. The monumental endeavor, consisting of 1.2 million square feet of space for academics, research, student residences and student life, along with related infrastructure, parking and roads, broke ground in Fall 2016. Less than three years later, in August 2019, the university celebrated the opening of the project's second phase.

While we remain fully focused on the completion and delivery of the 2020 Project's third and final phase, scheduled for Fall 2020, the Division of Finance and Administration must turn its attention to meeting the needs of the campus as enrollment grows to 10,000 students and more.

Looking beyond 2020, our team has completed the process of prioritizing the Division's initiatives into a strategic plan that focuses on:

  • Building the infrastructure necessary for our campus to meet financial and operational sustainability.
  • Creating a data-driven, decision-making framework that links how we allocate resources to the teaching, research and public service mission of the University of California.
  • Maintaining our momentum on student success, academic distinction and research excellence.

Part of the Division's strategic plan focuses on modernizing our systems and processes to establish ourselves as the model of efficiency and effectiveness to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It maintains our laser focus on seeing Project 2020 through to completion and success. Our goals and initiatives also must recognize the importance of people – especially our exceptional staff and talented students – for our campus to achieve its overall goals.

To accomplish this, we have established an organizational structure designed to facilitate teamwork. It operates by a simple set of core values that enables us to serve an important institutional support role.

Our Core Values

The Division is guided by the university’s core competencies and dedicated to serving our campus and accomplishing our mission. The following core values guide our actions:

  • Integrity: We act in an ethical, credible and trustworthy manner.
  • Excellence: Our work is balanced, rigorous, timely and accurate. We maintain high performance standards and promote efficient, effective outcomes that exceed expectations.
  • Teamwork: We are collaborative, believing that collective action produces greater results than that of any one individual.
  • Accountability: We are responsive to stakeholders’ needs, follow through on our commitments and take ownership of our decisions and actions.
  • Innovation: We remain open-minded and employ ingenuity to solve problems and critically evaluate options to improve outcomes and processes.
  • Service Focus: We value and deliver high-quality, professional, responsive and innovative service.
  • Diversity: We embrace diversity in all its forms, practice mutual respect, and strive for a community that fosters an open, inclusive and productive environment where everyone can grow and develop.


In April 2016, the campus began a landmark assessment that aligned people on the many change initiatives occurring at the time, with the goal of creating a sustainable vision for UC Merced. The assessment identified five streams of change initiatives, or “pathways,” to move the University toward that vision. The pathways are the foundation of how the Division aligns itself with UC Merced’s broader mission. The University’s change pathways are:

  • Modernizing Systems & Processes
  • 2020 & Space Planning
  • Engaging Exceptional Staff
  • Recruiting & Supporting Talented Students
  • Hiring & Supporting the Best Faculty

Vision map

Paths to the Future

The Division's charge is to create sustainable administrative services that enable the teaching and research mission of the University to reach its highest potential. Sustainable services focus on delivering value to faculty, students and other administrative partners so they can do their best work. We empower our staff to do their best work when we design processes and tools that enable stellar customer service.

As we establish a vision for our future, we are confident we will reach our goals through our commitment to continuous improvement. By approaching change in this manner, we ensure sustainable financial and operational models are ingrained in how the Division honors its commitment to enhancing the mission of UC Merced.

As of September 2019, our strategic plan identifies 61 projects and initiatives that are a priority for the Division. All priority projects align with the UC Merced change pathways. About half of the initiatives relate to financial management, centered largely around our financial systems and budgeting processes. Other projects include expanding our analytical capabilities to bolstering our human capital management programs.

Our initiatives are designed to enhance the quality of services and provide continuous improvement. Here are some of the major initiatives, along with broad timelines for planning and implementation. A detailed list with all 61 projects and initiatives can be found here.

Strategic plan snapshot

As we move forward, I hope these initiatives will serve as a guidepost for our work and as a framework for allocating resources. The Division of Finance and Administration's strategic plan identifies what our division can expect to deliver in the next phase of our wonderful institution.

We are UC Merced!

Michael Riley, CPA

Interim Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer