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  • Lots of Launches!
  • DFA Service Catalog Opens 
  • ECEC to Resume Operations 
  • Staff Profile: Jay Lomeli 
Hello, Division of Finance and Administration colleagues, 
Welcome back from the winter break. We are among many who see the new year as an opportunity for renewal and a fresh outlook. It simply must be better than 2020, right? Thank you for your continuing diligence and resilience in these extraordinary times. 
Take care and be well,
The DFA Transition Leadership Team:
Gerry Elizondo 
Luanna Putney 
Kurt Schnier 
The next Zoom-based DFA Open House is scheduled for 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13 (link below). Here’s the link: 
These meetings have been a great way to check in with each other and get updates from the DFA leadership transition team. Make sure you have the latest version of Zoom (download the latest version here) so you can participate in the popular breakout rooms.

DFA Suggestion Box: If you have questions or ideas you'd like to be addressed at the open house, please share them here. All posts are anonymous. 
The search process for a new vice chancellor/chief financial officer is continuing. The search advisory committee has held meetings with search firm Isaacson Miller, which is assisting with the process. Last month, Chancellor Muñoz laid out several “key opportunities and challenges” the CFO will face, including: 
  • Champion the implementation and management of effective, efficient, transparent and consistent university-wide budget and accounting processes.
  • Build a cohesive unit by leading and managing the division through change.
  • Propel UC Merced forward on its path to R1 status through careful financial stewardship.
  • Embed UC Merced’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion in all strategies and activities of the division.
The fourth of January was a big day for the Division and the university. Several financial projects were officially launched, marking a milestone in UC Merced’s growth and maturity. A quick rundown:
Oracle Cloud: The big one. More than 125 people put in countless hours to implement a top-to-bottom retrofitting of the university’s financial system. The Alpha Financials project, which started in April 2019, installed the Oracle Cloud Financials System and aligned UC Merced with the new UC-wide Chart of Accounts. The Oracle system will grow with the campus, ensure the university uses all financial resources effectively, and provide users with expanded financial data in real time. 
Please remember there’s a learning curve for any new system, and that Oracle users are currently applying their training to real-world processes and situations. In short: Please be patient; what’s already a great thing for UC Merced will only get better over time. 
So cheers to the Alpha Financials team (and special shout-outs to Tax Experts Greg Sweet and Jennifer DiSalvo, who were inadvertently omitted in the December Update). You made it! 
Concur: The new system for reimbursement of travel and non-travel expenses is integrated with Oracle Cloud and replaces Express. Concur features a simple-to-use mobile app available from the App Store and Google Play. All that's needed is a university email and Single Sign-On to access its features (also available on a desktop).  
Effort Reporting System: The Project Portfolio Financial Management team is shepherding the new system for the university’s research community. It is designed by UC campuses, hosted by UCOP and aligned with the new Oracle Cloud system. ERS will increase efficiency and ensure UC Merced complies with government regulations. 
The Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) will welcome Bobcat Kittens back to campus within the next month.

The center closed in March 2020 because of the pandemic and campus leadership decided to continue the closure through fall semester. Responding to the wishes of parents and supporters, Chancellor Muñoz announced in December that the ECEC will resume services.

As part of the resumption, there is a need to determine how to reduce the center’s dependence on the campus for financial support. This will be a priority over the next two years. 
ECEC staff are beginning to clear and reorganize the center to welcome toddlers and preschoolers back to campus. The ECEC is implementing all recommended COVID-19 mitigation measures. Soon you will again see and hear children playing, laughing and learning. 
The ECEC is currently enrolling past families and will move to its waiting list if there are spaces available. The center has limited capacity and enrollment must be on a full-time basis. For more information, follow the button to the ECEC website. 
UC Merced has started the process of developing the university’s first campus-wide strategic plan. The initiative, called Imagine 2030, will guide UC Merced for the next decade. 

Zoom meetings have been scheduled to give DFA staff an opportunity to express your ideas and thoughts about the strategic plan. Your contributions will: 
  • Help identify what will distinguish us as a research university and a UC campus. 
  • Identify the high-level initiatives/strategies the campus will undertake to advance the goals. 
  • Inform revisions to the goals.
Please note the following meetings for staff in specific units. Each meeting is scheduled for an hour, features breakout sessions, and puts a premium on your voice being heard.
Thursday, Jan. 14, 10-11 a.m.: Human Resources, Financial Planning & Analysis, Project Portfolio Financial Management, Finance & Administration Support Team, Center of Institutional Effectiveness. [Meeting link]
Monday, Jan. 25, 10-11 a.m.: Supply Chain and Shared Services. [Meeting link]

Friday, Jan. 29, 9-10 a.m.: Business and Financial Services. [Meeting link]
If you are unable to attend a meeting or if you come up with an idea after one, you can contribute directly at the strategic planning website. The site includes a place where staff can post their thoughts in English and Spanish (a participation page in Hmong will be published shortly). All contributions are anonymous. 
The Division has launched DFA Service Catalog. Along with the university’s new Oracle Cloud, Concur, GLACIER and Effort Reporting systems, ServiceNow can send requests directly to departments such as Financial Systems Support, General Accounting, Project and Portfolio Financial Management, Tax Services, and Travel & Expense Management.

In addition, existing tickets through the Center for Business Services and Solutions (CBS2) with processes related to the new systems are being updated.

The DFA Service Catalog organizes the information needed to submit a ticket successfully. This reduces reliance on group emails, streamlines ticket management, and improves report metrics. Additional request forms will be released later this year that support DFA areas such as Accounts Payable, Treasury, Student Business Services, Cashiering, Human Resources, and Payroll Services. 
Chris Rothermel joins UC Merced as our Oracle Cloud EPBCS Administrator on our Financial Systems Support team.

Chris is a results-oriented leader specializing in Hyperion Planning and Essbase and related accounting and finance technologies. Chris has delivered SEC reporting and planning solutions for a variety of companies and institutions. He has experience managing large and complex financial and non-financial data using a variety of technologies as well as project management experience.

Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering and an MBA in finance from the University of Connecticut.

Welcome, Chris! 
Thanks to everyone who responded to last month's question: What’s your favorite kind of pie? There were 15 responses: 
Let's ring in the new year with this month's question:
What do you most look forward to in 2021?
Getting vaccinated
Hugging family
Going to a movie
Taking an overnight trip
Nothing in particular
Each month, we turn a spotlight on a Division colleague to learn about their lives with UC Merced and beyond. Is there someone you would like to nominate for the monthly profile? Let us know

What is your job title? Interim Benefits Manager
What does your job entail? Leading our benefits team and serving our campus with any benefits and retirement inquires, wellness resources, leaves of absences, worker’s compensation and disability accommodation requests.
What do you enjoy the most about it? Assisting and providing solutions for those in need of our services during any critical life events that may present challenges throughout their career. These areas range from welcoming new employees by helping them understand their employer benefits to life-changing events of adding or losing family members, personal or family health-related challenges, as well as providing peace of mind upon exiting UC Merced and entering retirement, assuring their years of service are well-appreciated.

What’s one thing you want everyone to know about the benefits team? Like most departments across campus, we are here to serve during our clients’ challenging and exciting times. We strive to provide our best customer service by sympathizing with individuals and consulting on possible solutions for their situations. Given the challenges we face as a community, we are here to support individuals throughout their career at UC Merced and strive to provide the best employer experience in the Central Valley.
What do you do to relax? Spend time with my family, cook new recipes, explore different places and complete DIY projects. 

What’s your comfort food? Surf and turf! Any BBQ/meat and seafood.

If you could live anyplace in the world for a year, where would it be and why? Italy. I would enjoy learning form the locals, get a better sense of the history and the culture, explore the surroundings and try the authentic food.
Do you have questions? Feedback you want to share? Something you want to put into the next newsletter? Reach out via our Comment Box or by emailing us at [email protected]
DFA Update, a newsletter for the Division of Finance and Administration, is published monthly. Follow these links to catch up on news in earlier issues: