With the start of the academic year, we wanted to reach out to faculty and academic employees with an overview of the efforts we have taken and will be taking to support efficient use and continued improvement of UC Merced’s financial management system, as well as provide you with direct contact information for individuals able to help with your questions or concerns in these areas.
- Faculty Staff Support: The Fiscal Year 2023-24 Budget Call provided the largest infusion of staff support within the schools in the university’s history. These staff will support the faculty directly with management of non-contract/grant funds, assistance with procurement needs and other research-related support. For more details about the organizational structure resulting from this unparalleled investment in faculty staff support, please consult your dean.
- Financial System Enhancements: Four efforts are underway to improve the user experience in key areas:
- Procurement: LabViva is a user-friendly portal intended to simplify the procurement process for researchers and scientific lab needs through a self-service portal. We have reached out to the Senate’s Committee on Research to assist with this implementation. Contact: Meagan Torres, email@example.com
- Accounts Payable Automation: We are entering into a contract with Transcepta, which will provide services to increase the speed of the invoicing process for our external vendors. Contact: Amanda Preston-Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- UCMPlan: The university has retained the services of Solejar to perform a re-configuration of the planning and budgeting module (UCMPlan). A primary objective is to simplify interfaces and to increase efficiency and system performance, making it easier to access consistent information. Contacts: Bianca Khanona, email@example.com and Avi Badwal, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Software Integration: The Office of Information Technology continues to enhance integrations between key financial systems with additional validation and integrity checks to ensure consistent balances and reporting across systems. Contact: Avi Badwal, email@example.com .
- Approval Workflow Enhancements: Work continues to streamline procurement approval workflow by reducing steps and requirements for end users. A second phase of this effort will launch in the coming months. Contact: Amanda Preston-Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Gifts and Endowments: An outside vendor has been retained to help address conversion discrepancies with gift and endowment financial data that followed the transition from the legacy financial system to Oracle. We anticipate completing this effort within the next three months, with the goal of reconciling gift accounts that aid departmental fund use and management. Contacts: Carol Dinuzzo,email@example.com, or Patrick Hunt, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Expense Approval: An enhancement to include research assistants on expense reports was added to the Concur travel and expense system. This change is expected to significantly improve the time required to process expense reports. Contact: Tracy England, email@example.com.
- Contract and Grant Accounts: A training workshop co-hosted by the Division of Finance and Administration and the Office of Research and Economic Development will occur later this semester. The workshop will allow teams to learn workflows and responsibilities that support of contracts and grants. It will also provide an opportunity for DFA and ORED staff to meet in person and enhance their collaborative support of principal investigators’ research. With the close of the 2022-23 fiscal year, post-award RAs are working diligently on award reconciliation reports for PIs to help provide accurate account balances. If you have questions about the status of awards, please reach out to your RA or schedule a meeting to discuss your questions. For general assistance, contact Fernando Alvarez,firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Faculty Accounts: In March 2022, central offices worked with school staff to reconcile and validate faculty accounts managed locally by the schools (e.g. start-up, incidentals, IDC, service) to increase the accuracy of account information. Additional staffing in the schools was authorized to increase capacity to manage these accounts. For locally managed accounts, please reach out to:
As this overview shows, the optimization of our financial management system is an ongoing and collaborative effort among a broad and committed team spanning the Division of Finance and Administration, the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Research and Economic Development, External Relations, and the schools. The system belongs to all of us. Constructive feedback and partnership from the academic community are crucial to ensuring we manage our funds in a manner commensurate with a high-level research university.
We will communicate milestones and details as these initiatives progress. Meanwhile, thank you for all you do to further UC Merced’s mission to the San Joaquin Valley and beyond as we embark on the university’s 18th academic year.
Nick Dugan, Vice Chancellor, Chief Information Officer
Betsy Dumont, Dean, School of Natural Sciences
Jeff Gilger, Dean, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
Rakesh Goel, Dean, School of Engineering
Ed Klotzbier, Vice Chancellor, Chief External Relations Officer
Kurt Schnier, Interim Vice Chancellor, Chief Financial Officer
Gillian Wilson, Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Economic Development