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  • Transition leadership team 
  • DFA Open House 
  • Welcome to new staff
  • DFA Pulse question
Welcome to a special edition of DFA Update. Nov. 1 marked the start of a period of change and opportunity for the Division. The university will soon begin a search for a new chief financial officer. In preparation for the transition, Chancellor Muñoz appointed a leadership team that will support DFA. The new CFO will succeed Interim Vice Chancellor/CFO Mike Riley, who departed UC Merced to lead UC Berkeley’s Controller’s Office (good luck, Mike!). 
We have more to say about the leadership team. But first, we want to invite our Division colleagues to gather virtually from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, for the DFA Open House. It’s an opportunity to check in with each other, to meet the transition team, and to ask questions (we’ll use breakout rooms). We’ll also discuss priorities for the Division and university. No reservations are needed. Just tap the button below for the Zoom meeting link.   
NOTE: To participate in breakout rooms, make sure you are using the latest Zoom software. Download the latest Zoom update here. If you don't have the latest version, you won't be able to join breakout rooms.
As the university begins a national search for a new vice chancellor/chief financial officer, three of our colleagues have taken roles to lead the transition:  
  • Gerry Elizondo is supporting Auxiliary Enterprise and Fiscal Innovation
  • Luanna Putney is supporting Human Resources.  
  • Kurt Schnier is supporting Financial Planning & Analysis and Business & Financial Services. 
Here’s a little more about each of them. 
Gerry Elizondo 
Like many who seek an education at UC Merced, Gerry was a first-generation university student. The Fresno resident started her academic journey at UC Davis. She then made stops in the Midwest, the San Francisco Bay Area and the East Coast, where she completed her M.Ed. degree in College Student Personnel at the University of Maryland. 

Her first professional job was working in auxiliary services in residence life. This experience, along with other roles in higher education, gave her insight into the importance of creating memorable experiences and providing exceptional service to all who engage with a campus community. Before joining UC Merced in summer 2019 as DFA chief of staff, Gerry worked at Fresno State, engaging in strong partnerships in auxiliaries/finance and administration and in student affairs. She guided student union services and programs, leadership development programs, large community engagement events (Vintage Days), and commencement. 

Gerry places a high importance in continuing the growth and evolution of auxiliary services at UC Merced, along with support for all DFA units in her role as chief of staff for the division, during this leadership transition. 
Luanna Putney 
When Luanna, as a post-doc fellow at UCSF, decided not to pursue a career as a faculty researcher in physiology, medicine’s loss was our gain. She landed a staff job at UC Davis’s School of Medicine as its first intellectual property officer. Luanna’s professional journey at Davis sparked an interest in policy and compliance. When the Board of Regents in 2008 required each campus develop an ethics and compliance program, she went to UCOP to help this effort. 
In 2014, when UC Merced needed a full-time chief ethics and compliance officer, Luanna was attracted to the university’s start-up culture. She brought her family to Central Valley. As UC Merced’s chief ethics and compliance officer (CECO), Luanna has built the program and integrated functions such as internal audit, Title IX/VII/EEO, Risk Services and a whistleblower program. She has worked closely with Human Resources to build case management teams. Luanna also has served as the chair of the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT), responding to and mitigating threats to self and others for students, staff and faculty.  
For the past several years, Luanna also has served as chief of staff to Chancellor Emerita Leland, Interim Chancellor Brostrom, and now Chancellor Muñoz. While she provides support to Human Resources during the DFA transition, her CECO, BIT and whistleblower program roles will be handled by other staff. Luanna looks forward to working with HR leadership to assist the department and help advance its priorities.
Kurt Schnier 
Kurt and his family came to Central Valley in 2014 when he joined the university as an economics professor. He and his wife have family in the region and, as he puts it, “the opportunity to be part of the UC system and to serve our students while building a university sounded exciting — and it is!” It capped an academic journey that started at UC San Diego and wound through Pennsylvania, Arizona, Rhode Island and Georgia. 

As a faculty member at UC Merced, Kurt served as a department chair and on faculty-administration working groups and Academic Senate committees. He served as Senate vice chair in 2016-17 and 2017-18, and as chair in 2018-19. During this time, he collaborated with administration on school restructuring, academic planning and budget transparency. 

In August 2019, Kurt was named associate EVC/provost for academic planning and budget. In partnership with the CFO and EVC/provost, he has worked on developing a driver-based budget model, global IT funding model, graduate funding model and numerous incentive-based programs.

Kurt looks forward to supporting the campus in his transition leadership role and to working collaboratively to ensure the financial sustainability of UC Merced.  
To provide some insight into the future of Merced and DFA, here are some of Chancellor Muñoz's priorities for the university. Join the DFA Open House at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4 as we review and discuss these priorities. 
  • COVID-19 planning and campus re-opening in Academic Year 2020-2021   
  • Successful launch of Alpha Financials project in January 
  • Secure planning and design funding for Health and Behavioral Sciences-Medical Education (HBS-ME) building   
  • Establish comprehensive budgeting process for university   
  • Ensure cost control and savings measures required by significant losses due to COVID-19 
  • Fill leadership vacancies
Short term  
  • Develop first university-wide strategic plan 
  • Continue enrollment growth by strengthening retention and improving articulation agreements with community colleges partners   
  • Campus safety: Police Advisory Board; external review of policies, trainings and structure; improve communications with the campus community 
Long term 
  • Facilitate accelerated progress to Carnegie Foundation’s R1 classification for research via investments in research enterprise and strategic faculty hires 
  • Continue enrollment growth 
  • Meet health care needs of the San Joaquin Valley 
We have two new members of the DFA family. Gova Ramadugu (pictured, left) came aboard Oct. 13 as e-commerce manager for Procurement & Contract Services. Nirmala Mummaneni (right) joined us Oct. 19 as Oracle functional report analyst with the Financial Support Services team.
Gova has more than 16 years of experience in technology and operations leadership roles in high tech, retail and financial services companies building large-scale e-commerce and enterprise/ERP applications. He was most recently the director of applications engineering at Knightscope, a robotic security company. He also has worked for Rodan+Fields, Microsoft, Intel, and Bank of America. 

Before coming to UC Merced, Nirmala was an Oracle Business Analyst for United States Pharmacopeia, which establishes written and physical standards for medicines, food ingredients and dietary supplements. Nirmala was responsible for identifying business requirements and functionality gaps, and mapping them to Oracle Cloud functionality. She also designed and developed OTBI reports and other financial reports in Oracle.
Welcome, Gova and Nirmala! 
It’s been more than a year and a half since the Alpha Financials project began to convert university-wide financial management to an Oracle Cloud system. The project is on schedule for a January 2021 go-live for UC Merced end users. The implementation team, consisting of staff from DFA and the Office of Information Technology, along with implementation partner Deloitte and campus-wide stakeholders, has dedicated thousands of hours into designing, configuring and delivering a product they are excited to share with the university. The project team is currently testing the system and beginning training for end users. The training curriculum and schedule, along with other important information, is on the Alpha Financials website. 
The Travel and Expense Management team also is near completion of implementing Concur, the new travel and entertainment expense and reimbursement system. Concur will replace the current Express system, hosted by UCLA and will go live Jan. 1, 2021. The system has been configured and user acceptance testing is complete. The technical team has worked with Alpha Financials to build integrations with the Oracle Cloud system. Training courses begin this month. 
In case you didn’t see the announcement in Monday Memo, the university’s telework agreement with employees working remotely has been extended to March 30, 2021. Employees do not need to take any action; the extension is automatic. 
Thanks to everyone who responded to last month's question: What would you most like to read or see in DFA Update? There were 41 responses, and we appreciate the feedback: 
There was a lot of information this month, so let’s lighten things up a little for the next DFA Pulse question. Results will be published in the December DFA Update. 
Question: iPhone or Android?
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: