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Looking Toward the Future for DFA

July 1, 2021

Colleagues,

It has been a great pleasure to work with you in our service to the campus for the past eight months. During this time you have helped me learn the details of the Division of Finance and Administration and initiate a cultural change for the campus around our historic budgeting and financial practices. I am confident that as a team we will be able to better support the campus and ensure our financial future is sustainable.

This said, I heard from many of you that changes in leadership and uncertainty moving forward have added additional stress. This is stress that is beyond that associated with the pandemic or supporting the campus through a wholesale change of our financial system. Rest assured we are working to reduce this uncertainty within the Division and help foster an environment where we can thrive together as colleagues in our support of the campus’ mission.

To help provide continued clarity on the direction of the Division of Finance and Administration, and to provide real-time answers to your questions, we will be continuing the DFA Open Houses via Zoom for all to attend. These will resume in late July and we will continue to hold them every other month. In addition, we are expanding our DFA Leadership Meetings to include a higher number of DFA’s leaders to help ensure that additional support and strategic direction is provided within the Division. These meetings will occur on alternate months of the DFA Open House. I will also be reaching out to these leaders to be invited to some of your upcoming department leadership meetings so I can hear directly from each of your departments. Lastly, I will soon be announcing my own office hours to provide time for individuals within the entire Division to meet with me personally and discuss anything that is pertinent to your career at UC Merced.

As we are near the time when we all will be resuming our on-campus work, I want to acknowledge everything that you have done to support the campus since the pandemic began – and more importantly to thank you for everything you have done. Many of you have worked tirelessly to keep the campus physically open and operating for our students, staff and faculty. You helped provide housing and meals for our students and kept research facilities open. Our campus will never forget your dedication and service. Others within the Division have been working diligently to support the wholesale change of our financial system. This is a herculean effort that will have a lasting impact on our campus’ future. Many others across DFA helped play a critical role in our Division’s effort to increase fiscal transparency and support our campus’ financial sustainability. This cultural change will continue to shape our campus for years to come. Plainly stated, everyone in this Division has been amazing in their support of the campus and I believe when we come back together these experiences will help to strengthen our community moving forward. I am honored to be working with you all and calling you colleagues.

Do we still have more to do to support the campus? Is there more we can learn to help support the campus? The answer is always going to be yes. We will constantly be asked to evolve to the changing landscape of our university and we will continue to be resilient, creative and innovative in our thinking to support each other and the campus. I know that many of you may feel that we have been asked to continue to do more with less and I have seen clear evidence of this within the Division. However, I have also seen many exemplary examples of departments and individuals who have remained positive and continued their excellent support of the campus. This positive energy is what we are going to need as we continue to work through the upcoming fiscal year. I recognize that our prior experiences have compromised our morale, but I feel optimistic about what our future will hold. We will persevere and our continued support of one another will strengthen our community. I am convinced that our campus will thrive through this experience and I look forward to partnering with you all to ensure DFA is on the leadership frontier of this change.

With all this in mind I want to encourage all of you to take the time you need to recharge and prepare yourself for the future. For some of you that may not be feasible now, but when you can, please take vacations and step away from your campus obligations. We as team will be there to support your work in your absence. We need to be a strong team and your personal strength is the most important element of that. I will be doing the same as I must be diligent and responsive to the needs of our Division and campus. I am looking forward to what the future holds, the opportunity to continue to serve you all and the campus and seeing you all in person in the future!

Sincerely,

Kurt Schnier

Interim Vice Chancellor / Chief Financial Officer