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November Update from the Interim Vice Chancellor

November 5, 2019

Greetings, Division of Finance and Administration Colleagues,

You know it’s November when Daylight Saving Time ends and you’re counting down the days to turkey and stuffing. As we start the new month, here is a recap of recent news and some things to look forward to as we approach the end of the year.

AFI Transition Updates: I am pleased to announce that Mark Cunningham has been appointed Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Auxiliary Enterprises and Fiscal Innovation (AFI), bringing more than 40 years of experience of university housing and dining management to the role. Mark served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Housing, Dining and Hospitality at UC San Diego before retiring in April 2018. His first day at UC Merced is Nov. 4. Mark will provide direct support and supervision of AFI's Housing Operations, Dining Services, Transportation and Parking Services, and the Campus Store, along with the Conference Center under construction as part of the 2020 Project. The Early Childhood Education Center will report to me and to Nicole Pollack, Chief Human Resources Officer. We also have begun a national search for a permanent Associate Vice Chancellor for AFI. I want to thank AFI team members for their patience and understanding during this transition. I continue to be impressed by the dedication and passion you all bring to the important work you do.

New AVC for Financial Planning and Analysis: Bianca Khanona will be joining UC Merced as Assistant Vice Chancellor (AVC) for Financial Planning and Analysis on Nov. 13. She comes to the university after nearly 15 years with E. & J. Gallo Winery, where she served as the company’s Senior Financial Analyst of Operation Finance. Bianca earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration degree from California State University, Stanislaus. With extensive experience in financial planning, analysis and review, Bianca brings the talents needed to guide growth of systematic process improvement. Bianca has Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification for project management, which complements the recent certification of 25 UC Merced staff members in OIT, Registrar’s Office and Finance and Administration.

Open Enrollment is … Open! We are in the midst of the Open Enrollment period for benefits provided through University of California. There are several ways to learn about changes and new options for the 2020 calendar year. I encourage everyone to attend an in-person workshop, join a UC webinar or attend the Open Enrollment Benefits & Wellness Fair, 9 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Nov. 6 in the Lakeview Dining Room at Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center. Open Enrollment closes at 5 p.m. Nov. 26.

Town Halls on Staff Engagement Survey: Staff Assembly will host town halls this month to discuss results of the latest staff engagement survey. One town hall is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m. Nov. 15 in ACS 120. Another is set for 9:15 a.m.-10:30 a.m. in DCC’s Room 105/106. Refreshments will be available. The survey, developed by UC and the Council of UC Staff Assemblies, helps campus leaders better understand the experiences and needs of staff on a range of topics. I encourage you to attend one of these town halls.

Q&A from Town Hall Updated: We have updated a Q&A from a Staff Assembly Town Hall held last March. There are new/updated answers to questions about DCC parking, professional development, job recruitment and job reclassification.

Alpha Financials Staffing Update: The Alpha Financials project is a comprehensive reorganization of our financial system. As part of this transformation, we have created a new Financial Systems Support department to support applications (i.e. UC Path, Cashnet and Concur, as well as TRS, Glacier and the HR systems OnBase and TAM) that will feed information through the Oracle-based system. As of Oct. 1, Emily Bustos is executive director of Financial Systems Support, reporting to Interim Controller Kim Groesbeck. Other members of the team are John Holtz, Lisa Hua and Natalie Hibdon. All were previously in System Analysis & Support under the Center of Institutional Effectiveness.

Holiday Curtailment Schedule: A reminder that UC Merced will close for seven days: Tuesday, Dec. 24, through Wednesday, Jan. 1. The closure consists of four paid holidays Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1) and three unpaid curtailment days (Dec. 26, 27, 30). Staff can use vacation or compensatory time to cover the unpaid days.

Getting into the Halloween Spirit: Creativity was in full force last Thursday as several DFA teams gave us “pumpkin” to talk about. Congratulations to the staff of Travel Management / Treasury & Disbursements for winning Staff Assembly’s campus Halloween Costume Contest with their retro-airline “Come Fly With Us” display!

Travel Services Halloween

Here are some of the other spooktacular DFA costumes and displays. Click on the links to see photos of their creativity. #SquadGhouls!

DFA News and Newsletter Archives – For all your current and archived DFA news and newsletters, they’re all available here .

Do you have questions? Feedback you want to share? I encourage everyone to reach out via our Comment Box or by emailing us at


Michael Riley

Interim Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer

Finance and Administration