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March update from the Interim Vice Chancellor

March 3, 2020

Greetings, Division of Finance and Administration colleagues,

Is it March already? Wow. Time flies when you’re working with a great group of people. Here’s what’s happening in and around the division:

DFA Project Updates

Alpha Financials. The Oracle system implementation will replace the existing legacy financial system with Oracle Cloud applications while implementing a new mandated Common Chart of Accounts. The technology and associated process changes require an increase of staff in Business and Financial Services and Procurement that will be performing and supporting the work in the Oracle system. The project was originally planned to have the Oracle system in production in July 2020. This date has pushed out to production-ready in mid-December 2020 with go-live in January 2021, when staff will actually begin transacting in the system.

Concur, the new travel and reimbursement system that will replace the Express system, will be implemented in parallel with the Oracle Financial Cloud system and the new Common Chart of Accounts.

Division staffing updates: Several division positions are being recruited internally and are posted at . We encourage interested applicants to apply. Unless otherwise noted, there is a one-week posting period for internal recruitments, so check the recruitment site frequently. Posted positions for internal and external recruitment include: eCommerce Manager, eCommerce Analyst, Financial Systems Support Analyst, Financial Systems Support Manager, Financial Systems Support Team Lead, and Financial Analyst.

Welcome new staff: As we have been actively recruiting for a variety of positions, I would like to thank our Human Resources team and the folks involved in search committees and interviews. Through everyone’s collective effort, the division is pleased to welcome the following staff members who joined in February:

  • Ashlee McNeill / Human Resources
  • Brandi Masasso / Student Business Services
  • Diana Rios / Early Childhood Education Center
  • Haley Herrera / Administration Coordination Team
  • Jill McFadden / Administration Coordination Team
  • Julian Luke / Administration Coordination Team
  • Lindsay Daniels / Business and Financial Services
  • Veronica Pacheco-Busko / Administration Coordination Team

Big changes at Business and Financial Services: The Alpha Financials project, which will switch UC Merced’s aging system to a nimble one based on the Oracle Financial Cloud, means significant expansion of the Business and Financial Systems unit. Two departments have been created: Financial Systems Support (FSS) and Project Portfolio Financial Management (PPFM).

Staff who previously performed systems support were moved to FSS and will report to department Executive Director Emily Bustos. John Holtz, Natalie Hibdon, and Lisa Hua also moved from CIE to FSS, which will support the financial team, Oracle and all campus boundary systems that will integrate with Oracle and/or UCPath. This team will provide security administration and data integrity, system testing and troubleshooting and assistance with financial reporting. FSS is currently interviewing for additional staff.

PPFM supports the Oracle Project Portfolio module, which includes gift and endowments; contracts and grants; capital projects; faculty funding; and institutional projects. Management of these functions allows PPFM to manage faculty portfolios and financial reporting required by faculty, sponsors, donors, UCOP and campus leadership. Lindsay Daniels has moved from ORED to serve as PPFM Director. Lindsay will report to Emily Bustos. The department will post positions for recruitment in the next two weeks.

In addition, HR Payroll Center has moved from Human Resources to BFS and been renamed UCM Payroll Services. The department reports to Michelle Snyder. Student Employment was included in this realignment. Payroll Services will be posting positions for recruitment in the next two weeks.

With these updates, various staff have been brought on board to the BFS team, including:

  • Greg Sweet joined BFS Jan. 6 as tax compliance analyst. Greg brings 25 years of accounting and tax experience from Disney, California State University, Fullerton and Stanford to his role in BFS.
  • Brandi Masasso has accepted the position of Student Business Services Supervisor effective Feb. 24. Brandi brings nine years of UC Merced experience, the past six in internal audit, to her new role.
  • Lisa Hua accepted a position as Business Analyst IV in Financial Systems Support as of Feb. 24. She will work closely on the Oracle applications and boundary systems.
  • UCM Payroll Services recently welcomed Art Marroquin, Taylor Trevino and Christina Saxton to the team. Taylor joined Payroll Services in June 2019 as a Payroll Analyst, with a primary focus in staff/student payroll. In November 2019, Christina joined as the New/Re-Hire In-take Coordinator and Art joined as a Payroll Analyst, with a primary focus in academic payroll.

DCC workstation updates: The division continues to work with Space Planning to maximize DCC workstation assignments for DFA departments. More information to come as we welcome new staff, as workstation shifts are anticipated through Spring semester and into the summer. We thank you in advance for your flexibility and understanding as our division continues to grow.

Boot Camp graduates: Congratulations to members of our supply chain team who recently completed Certified Professional in Supply Management Boot Camp. Included in the graduation picture above is Kristi Morales, Todd Knittel, Koy Saephanh, Sean Pamer and David Sawyer.

Prepare for performance appraisals: The process for 2019-2020 begins March 9, when staff can start entering their Summary of Accomplishments into Saba (the platform once known as Halogen). The process closes May 19. In-person and online workshops are available to help walk you through the process. Human Resources has more details about the appraisal process here and here .

Mandatory training and education reminder: Are you up-to-date with assigned mandatory online trainings? Log in to the  UC Learning Center  and click the Training icon to see the Training Analysis screen. Failure to complete mandated trainings by their required due dates will have a negative impact on performance appraisal ratings, and policy-covered staff will experience mandatory reduction in merit pay. For information on how to check your status and additional details, visit

What you need to know about COVID-19: As a follow-up the Feb. 28 campus email announcement regarding the coronavirus known as COVID-19, resources available to the UC Merced community regarding the infectious disease include:

Get to Know: Mitch Vanagten

Each week, we will throw a spotlight on one of our division colleagues to learn about their lives at UC Merced and beyond. Do you have someone you would like to nominate? Let us know .

Here’s our first profile:

What’s your job title? Executive Chef

Describe your role at UC Merced. Menu planning and recipe development for the Pavilion and Lakeside Catering. Train staff on culinary skills. Ensure all products are ordered for dining operations and catering events, including local sourcing. Personally cook and direct in room and off-site events for up to 500.

How long have you worked for UC Merced? Fifteen years this April.

What do you enjoy most about your job? Creating dishes and cooking them.

How did you become interested in making/serving food for a living? When I was growing up, both of my parents worked late, so I was responsible for preparing dinner. I loved it so much that I decided to pursue it as my career.

What are your interests outside the job? Cycling, photography and baseball.

How do you connect with your community? I reach out to campus and community non-profits and offer to volunteer. The dining team and I have volunteered at various student and community events to support Bobcat Pantry, UC Merced Community Garden, D Street Homeless Shelter, Merced Chamber of Commerce, and the Boys and Girls Club.

Hamburger, salad or tacos? Tacos al pastor

Your version of a perfect meal? With everyone having such busy schedule in our household, the perfect meal to me is just being able to find the time to eat together at the table and catch up.  I usually cook, of course! LOL!

DFA Question of the Month

Thanks to those who responded to last month’s question: What was your first job? Here’s what we learned:

  • I ran a printing press for a small printing company. – Alicia Bellusci, Cashier, Treasury & Disbursements
  • Working at a tomato greenhouse at age 15, transplanting seedlings to get them ready for planting in the fields. – Carla Krogh, Cashiering Services Manager
  • Other than babysitting and paper routes? I was 16 and worked in a doughnut shop on the corner of California Avenue and Park Boulevard in Palo Alto. I wanted to save up for a pair of Adidas gym shoes – white with red stripes. Life was good. – Lori Callaway, Equipment Manager
  • Hardware store clerk – Gina Vieira, Executive Assistant
  • My very first job was when I was 11 years old. I worked in the grape vineyards with my dad, who was a foreman. We would prune, irrigate and harvest grapes. I would work during the two weeks off from school during winter break and then for two and a half months in the summer. I did this for six years until I turned 17 so I could help support my family. It made me who I am today and I would never change that for anything. – Jose Serrano, Custodial Supervisor, Housing/Dining
  • Changing irrigation lines. – Jan Owens, Cashier, Treasury & Disbursements
  • My first job was telemarketing. I was 16 and stunk, which is why they kept me on for only one week. My second job shortly after, which I consider my real first job, was grounds and facilities maintenance as a student employee for my high school. I painted the gym, repaired the football field, fixed sprinklers and did many other tasks. My big takeaway is that work is hard and I learned how to drive a stick shift. I was required to drive a stick, so of course I said in the interview that I knew how. I had no clue how to work a stick shift, but quickly taught myself without ruining the transmission. – Mike Riley, Interim Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer

This month’s question:

Who performed at the first live concert you attended?

Was it Taylor Swift? Green Day? The L.A. Philharmonic? Let’s hear about it! Submit your response by Friday, March 27. 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 .


Mike Riley