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  • Working Forward 
  • Celebrating Service Honorees 
  • Chef Vanagten Honored 
  • Take the TAPS Survey 
Dear Division Colleagues,

Believe it or not, Spring semester is winding down. Instruction wraps up this week. Finals are next week. A virtual (and, we hear, incredibly cool) Spring Commencement is set for May 15. 

In short, we successfully steered through an academic year unlike any other. Congratulations! Elbow bumps all around! 

Straight ahead: a period of careful, mindful transition as we prepare for predominantly in-person instruction in Fall semester. With input from you and your colleagues, we’re developing how on-site work will look as staff who have been telecommuting begin performing in-person duties starting July 1 (more details below). 
As with everything we’ve done during the COVID-19 crisis, this transition will follow the science. Safety measures such as face coverings and physical distancing will be employed according to local, state and national guidance. 

We have some changes in the DFA transition leadership team. As shared in the April 22 Open House, Interim Chief Financial Officer Kurt Schnier will continue to serve in that role through the end of December. His responsibilities include oversight of Business and Financial Services, Financial Planning and Analysis, and Auxiliary Enterprises and Fiscal Innovation (AFI). Kurt will collaborate with Gerry Elizondo, DFA Chief of Staff, on divisional administration and projects, along with continued support of AFI, including the Early Childhood Education Center. 

Associate Chancellor/Chief of Staff to the Chancellor Luanna Putney, who served on the leadership transition team for the last several months, will continue to oversee Human Resources, which has moved from DFA to the Office of the Chancellor. We thank Luanna for her support and look forward to working with her and HR. 
We also want to thank Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor and Controller Kim Groesbeck, who last month announced her pending retirement after 13 years of service to UC Merced. Her contributions in shaping the University’s financial landscape are incalculable. Congratulations, Kim! 
Be well, 

The DFA Leadership Transition Team: 
Kurt Schnier 
Gerry Elizondo 
As the pandemic cloud continues to lift, the Division, along with the rest of the campus, is developing plans for how to bring more staff back to on-site work. Unit managers and employees are asked to collaborate on creating plans that recognize what many have learned from a year of working remotely. On-site, remote and hybrid options must meet the needs of the services the unit provides to campus.

Drafts of work plans from divisions and schools are due May 18; finalized plans are expected to be ready June 1 (see the full timeline) – one month before the July 1 date set for staff who have been telecommuting to start transitioning to a form of on-site work. 
Please use the Thought Guide from Human Resources to help develop your on-site plan. And please visit the Working Forward section of the Campus Ready site for more information. 
UC Merced's Office of Sustainability served a fine honor to Mitch Vanagten. The university's Executive Chef was named Sustainability Champion for April 2021.

The office applauded Mitch for being an advocate for sustainable food, which in broad terms means using products and processes that conserve energy and natural resources and are safe for staff and customers. It's fitting that Mitch was honored in the same month when Earth Day is held. Congratulations, Chef Mitch! 

May 3-10 marks National Teacher Appreciation Week, so Early Childhood Education Center Director Danielle Waite put up decorations to thank the center's amazing staff for the work they do for our Bobcat Kittens. Congratulations!
We welcome any information about recognition earned by Division individuals and teams. Please contact us at [email protected]
Two members of the DFA have announced their retirement -- Cashiering Manager Carla Krogh and Assurance & Controls Analyst Jenny Duenas.
Carla has worked for UC Merced for 20 years, joining the finance division in April 2001, and has served in her current role since 2008. Carla works with campus merchants and with student groups to help collect funds and dues. She has said that working with students is the best part of her job: "They make life fun." In retirement, Carla will continue to support Omega Delta Phi, a fraternity for whom she's been faculty/staff adviser since 2010.

"Carla has been a valuable contributor to the success of the merchant locations on campus, providing annual cash handling training to staff and newly hired student workers," Director of Treasury & Disbursements Jennifer Riedeman said. "She has been a resource for many campus staff, students and faculty over the years, with a strong commitment to student success."

Jenny has worked for UC Merced for 15 years, including the last 13 and a half in Business and Financial Services. In her current role she is the campus' departmental security administrator, assuring system access and login requirements are monitored and met. She also is reponsible for compliance reports mandated by UCOP and processes gift and endowment transactions.

"I’ve been lucky to work with Jenny. She knew the ropes and you could always count on her to get things done," Senior Accountant Craig Ledebur said. "I’m still hoping she reconsiders, but for some reason she’s putting family and happiness ahead of stress and work. Good luck, Jenny!"

Carla and Jenny will continue in their roles through the end of June. Both said their primary goal of retirement is to relax, though Carla added she plans to go to Africa next year to witness the "great migration" of wildebeests (!)
Mark your calendar for DFA’s Celebrating Service Awards event, starting at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 17. Each year, the University honors colleagues who have reach UC Service milestones as of the end of the previous year. There are 27 honorees in the Division, including six who have reached the 15-year mark. Congratulations!
In recognition and thanks for the honorees' years of service, the Division is collecting stories about and messages to them that we will incorporate into the ceremony. Please submit your contributions online by EOB Monday, May 10
Transportation and Parking Services, in partnership with the Office of Sustainability, wants your help to plan the future of transportation at UC Merced. Please take a few minutes to complete a survey that asks about your transportation and parking habits and needs, along with what services you use. If you have questions, please contact TAPS at [email protected] or (209) 228-8277. 
The draft of UC Merced's 10-year strategic plan, which will take us to 2030 and the campus’s 25th year of operation, is available for review and comment. The plan’s shared goals and targets will help us align our work so we can achieve new levels of excellence.

Please take a few minutes to read and provide your reaction to the draft by Friday, May 14.
  • DFA News: Be informed about Division announcements and upcoming events. There also are links to previous DFA Update newsletters and other archived resources.
  • Working Forward: Information and updates on planning for staff on-site work.
  • COVID Response Center https://doyourpart.ucmerced.edu/crc 
  • Financial Responsibility: News, updates and archived content from town halls about the university's financial picture.
  • Campus Town Halls: Series archive and schedule.
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

This month's profile is on Financial Analyst Paritosh Soni.

What do you do in your job? My work assignment includes financial analysis, financial modeling, budgeting and debt management, focusing mainly on providing analysis to leadership to assist them in decision making.
What do you enjoy the most about it? Each task and each day is different and I get to interact and work with several departments in the university. That makes my job interesting and it helps me to learn and understand more about UC Merced.
What’s one thing you want everyone to know about your team?  The Financial Planning and Analysis team is focused, hard-working and very supportive. Every task and challenge is handled together with team spirit. I came from a corporate banking background with no experience in higher education, but the transition has been very smooth with support and continuous guidance from each team member. I am grateful to be part of the FP&A team.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? I am an early bird and like to spend a few minutes in the early morning sunlight and a pleasant environment. However, many a time, my kids make me a night owl.
What’s do you like to do to relax? Taking a deep breath 😊. Also, hiking, walking in nature and spending time with family. 
You can keep only three non-work apps on your phone. What would they be?
Camera, YouTube and Calm.
If you could live anyplace in the world for a year, where would it be and why?  
Switzerland. I like the astonishing scenery, train journeys, hiking and tasty food.
Thanks to everyone who responded to last month's question: What is your favorite time of year? There were 34 responses (note: winter received no votes): 
This month's question:
How many languages can you speak?
Four or more
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: