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July 2020 Update from the Interim Vice Chancellor

July 6, 2020

Greetings, Division of Finance and Administration colleagues,

In recent weeks, I’ve visited with many of you in department meetings held on Zoom. It’s wonderful to see your faces. I’ve told you how much the campus community sees and appreciates your hard work, and I’ve answered questions and provided context to campus-wide messages about the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and what we’re doing to sustain the university’s mission.

I hope you’ve read my campus message that outlines cost-cutting measures that will ensure spending is prioritized and purchases are necessary for essential operations. Please be sure to visit the Campus Ready site, which has useful information and guidance about how we all can do our part to prepare for fall semester and carefully ramp up our return to the physical campus. The campus’ COVID-19 site remains the best place to stay up to date on how the pandemic is affecting UC Merced.

My thanks and gratitude to DFA team members working directly and indirectly on ramping up our campus operations. Efforts include involvement with the Emergency Operations Center, planning and preparation for students returning to residence halls, support for the restart of research, and more. With the start of all fall classes less than two months away, many of you are working diligently to ensure our campus is ready to go.

And please join me in welcoming Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz to campus. Go here to watch a video welcome from the university’s new leader. Also, I extend the deepest gratitude to Nathan Brostrom, who did an incredible job as interim chancellor over the past year and now returns to his role as UC chief financial officer.

And now, some news:

A Big Role: Interim Chancellor Nathan Brostrom has appointed CIE Executive Director Andy Boyd as the university’s chief resilience officer. Andy is now responsible for coordinating our return to teaching and research in the face of the pandemic. He also will continue to oversee CIE. Go here to read his first message to the campus in his new role. Congratulations, Andy!

UC Budget Outlook: In late June, Gov. Newsom signed a $202.1 billion spending plan that reduces the budget for UC campuses by 7.6 percent or $257.6 million. However, if enough federal funds are provided to California by Oct. 15, UC could see a 5.1 percent increase, or $170.8 million, from the prior fiscal year -- a difference of $428.4 million. That said, I believe those federal funds have a low probability of being approved, so it’s prudent we plan as if they aren’t coming. You might ask what this cut in funding means for UC Merced. We are working with the UC Office of the President (UCOP) to ensure we have enough funds to meet our growing institution’s needs. We, along with UCOP, are monitoring the situation and will update you as new information unfolds.

CBS2 Coming Together: We continue to assemble a top-flight team for the Center for Business Services and Solutions (CBS2). The latest addition is Terri Harris, who started her role as CBS2 executive director late last month. Terri comes to us from UC Berkeley, where she was director of business services for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. She has more than 14 years of experience in administrative and managerial roles and brings a robust service orientation to her work. She also has extensive knowledge of financial, grant and general accounting. Joining Terri is Stephanie Zuniga as CBS2’s customer relationship director. Stephanie has worked in UC Merced’s Procurement Services since 2015, most recently as customer success and training manager. She played a pivotal role in implementing Bobcat Buy, a streamlined purchasing platform that has been embraced campus-wide. Stephanie has more than 15 years of experience in customer-facing roles and thrives in dynamic, fast-paced environments. Welcome, Terri and Stephanie!

AFI Updates: With interim Associate Vice Chancellor Mark Cunningham transitioning to his new role as strategic advisor for Auxiliary Enterprises and Fiscal Innovation effective July 1, the areas of Dining, Retail and Hospitality Services now report to Director of Dining Kunal Sinha. Administration, communication and Housing Services report to AFI Executive Director Sean Lynch. Fleet Services, Parking and Enforcement, and Transporation Services continue to report to TAPS Director Karin Groth. The Early Childhood Education Center continue to report jointly to me and Chief Human Resources Officer Nicole Pollack. Thank you to all AFI team members for their continued efforts to expand our auxiliary services.

We Must Do Better: That was the title of a message to the campus from interim Chancellor Nathan Brostrom following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. I join Nathan in urging action, not just words, to push back against racial injustice. Please look over this curated list of ways to engage with and donate to anti-racist causes and organizations.

Inside UC Merced: This quarterly publication is a great place to let the entire campus know about our work. The next edition will publish Aug. 18. All approved content should be turned in by the end of this month. Please reach out to Jody Murray to discuss ideas or submit content.

Get to Know: Corinne Townsend

Each month, we train a spotlight on one of our division colleagues to learn about their lives at UC Merced and beyond. Is there someone you would like to nominate for the monthly profile? Let us know.

What’s your job title? Institutional Research Analyst for the Center of Institutional Effectiveness

What does your job entail? It's so difficult to sum up, but I guess I would say that I help people answer questions and solve problems with data. More specifically, I do a lot of data processing, statistical analysis and data visualization. I work with people all across the institution on many different projects, from admissions to student success and academic budget, to name a few. Right now it's been a lot of work supporting planning for the fall semester, which has involved looking at the data in different ways than before. There are definitely no dull moments!

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the interesting problems and challenges I get to work on. There's no “typical day” and there's always something new to learn or figure out. How long have you been with UC Merced? Technically, since 2006. I came here for my Ph.D., which was in the Cognitive and Information Sciences program. My first career appointment here was in 2012.

What movie can you watch over and over? For rewatching, I would say a comedy like “Christmas Vacation,” though I tend to spend more time watching darker sci-fi.

Tell us about someone who inspires you. That’s a difficult question, but I would say the students I've worked with over the years, because they've accomplished so much.

What’s your comfort food? Cheeseburgers and chocolate (but not together!)

DFA Question of the Month

The question we posed in the June newsletter was: Which living person do you admire the most? We can only assume you’re still thinking that one over, because we received no responses. And that’s fine, because the question we’re teeing up for July is a beauty. Drum roll, please:

Have you ever met a celebrity? Details, please.

Please submit your response by Friday, July 24. Selected responses will be published in the next DFA Monthly Newsletter. Looking forward to discovering more about our talented team members!

Do you have questions? Feedback you want to share? Items to include in the next newsletter? I encourage everyone to reach out via our Comment Box or by emailing us at