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  • A Message from Kurt Schnier 
  • DFA’s Working Forward Plan
  • Communication Playbook
  • Watch Celebrating Service Video 
Dear Division Colleagues,

Light the barbecue and crank up the AC – summertime is here. Like many things we’ve experienced over past 15 months or so, this summer is unlike any before it. As the pandemic recedes, California is opening up. We can embrace the future, in every sense of the word. We will continue to be careful, of course – if we learned anything all this, it’s that doing the right thing for our mutual benefit yields exponential returns.
I am so proud of the dedication everyone in the Division displayed during Spring semester. Staff whose duties required an on-campus presence literally kept the lights on while providing above-and-beyond services. Other staff have provided crucial support to hundreds of stakeholders in the massive conversions and upgrades of UC Merced’s financial management systems. Still others are working hard right now to help the campus close out the fiscal year at the end of this month.

As we roll into summer, there is much to look forward to. The resumption of in-person instruction for Fall semester is going hand-in-hand with Division colleagues joining staff across campus in returning to various levels of on-site work. As outlined below, the Division will move to the “new normal” in phases, with an emphasis on safety, individual well-being, and carrying out our duties in a thoughtfully and efficiently. Meanwhile, Chancellor Muñoz’s announcement of salary increases effective July 1, along with the approval to hire 40 staff members for critical needs, are signs that we are determined to fulfill UC Merced’s mission while sailing toward calmer fiscal waters.
In the weeks to come, I plan to attend unit and team meetings – virtually and in person. I joined the Division’s leadership team last fall. Now, as the Interim Vice Chancellor/CFO, I want to hear from you, answer questions, and simply get to know each other better.
Thank you for everything you do. I look forward to seeing you in person this fall. In the meantime, please be sure to set aside some time for yourself over these next few months. That’s what summer is for. 

Be well,
Kurt Schnier 
Interim Vice Chancellor/Chief Financial Officer
As the campus prepares for in-person instruction and the physical return of students and faculty, the divisions and schools throughout campus are finalizing their plans for returning to on-site work.

As shared with DFA directors and managers who supervise telecommuting employees, DFA’s plan for returning staff to on-site work schedules has three phases, all informed by the academic calendar. Basic details are below; go here to read the full work plan
Our approach to our return to on-site work schedule is rooted in the following:

  • Physical and mental health and are paramount. Throughout this transition we will emphasize the shared need to feel safe and supported. Health and safety are paramount and all return to on-site work activities will comport with health guidelines.
  • On-site work will be phased in gradually, more on-site work required in later phases.
  • Staff who serve on-campus constituents (e.g., students and faculty) will be required to have a higher on-site presence than of divisional staff whose roles have limited/low engagement with on-campus constituents.
  • Staff members will be provided with equipment to support one work site.
  • Employees who prefer to be on-site full time starting July 1 will be allowed to do so.  
  • Productivity will be measured by output, not input.
  • Active engagement with employee and Human Resources to address return to on-site accommodation needs.  
To ensure continued engagement, off-site employees are required to make maximum use of all digital collaboration tools, including but not limited to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Box and Slack. For in-person meetings, staff participating remotely must have their cameras turned on. 

On days in which staff are scheduled to be on campus, they are encouraged to step away now and again to relax. Take a walk outside. Enjoy an extended lunch. Readjustment requires time and reflection. We will get there together. 
It is impossible to overemphasize the need for open communication throughout this process. Supervisors and their direct reports need to be mindful of individual needs and concerns along with the unit’s operational responsibilities. As we progress through the plan’s phases, we will reassess and make changes that improve equity and effectiveness.

Should you have any questions, contact us at dofa@ucmerced.edu. 
Luke Wiesner’s Communication Playbook blog has been a great resource for insight and discussion after interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. Starting this week, the university’s conflict resolution coach turns his attention to common challenges we will face as increasing numbers of staff emerge from the pandemic and return to some form of on-site work activity.

His Working Forward series will continue through June and July. Some of his posts will feature conversations with Talent Development Director Kevin Reyes. We invite you to use Communication Playbook as a resource, and to send Luke any questions you might have. 
Dining’s Executive Chef, Mitch Vanagten, will sit down for an “Ask Me Anything” Zoom session hosted by the Office of Sustainability at 2 p.m. Monday, June 7.

Chef Mitch’s passion for cooking began at a young age in his family's Dutch Indonesian household. In his role at UC Merced, he is inspired by the bounty of food grown and raised in the San Joaquin Valley. He brings his extensive knowledge of international cuisine and "farm to table" cooking not just to the campus community, but to philanthropic causes in the Merced community.

The Office of Sustainability named Chef Mitch its Sustainability Champion for April 2021. 
We welcome any information about recognition earned by Division individuals and teams. Please contact us at dofa@ucmerced.edu

We had a great time honoring our 27 DFA colleagues who reached UC service milestones this past year. In case you missed the May 17 online event (or would like to experience it again), follow the link below to watch the video. We’ve also archived the event’s slide presentation
  • 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.
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 Jennifer Carerro, a teacher at the Early Childhood Education Center.

What do you do in your job? I provide a high-quality learning environment for children from infancy to about 5 years old. My goal is to provide the love and support each child needs to be successful in all areas of their development. I also want them to develop a love of learning so they become lifelong learners
What do you enjoy the most about it? I enjoy the fact that we get to move with the children. Moving with the children through the different classrooms allows me to really get to know each child better. I get to see how they view the world, and it helps me understand them better so that I can support their growth and development. The one-on-one conversations with the children are the best.

What’s one thing you want everyone to know about the ECEC? We work hard to provide the love and support each child needs to be successful. Our center is very different from the centers around Merced because we get to follow the children for the most part from infancy until they leave to attend elementary school. Each child is different and special, and we strive to provide individualized care to each child. I love what I do and seeing the children succeed makes me happy.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? I am a bit of both. It depends on the day.
What do you like to do to relax? I like to spend time with my nieces. I am so proud of them and one of them will be starting here in the fall. I also like to go hiking and just hang out with family and friends and my fur babies.
You can keep only three apps on your phone that aren’t related to your job. What are they? Discovery Plus; I like the home renovation shows and the cooking shows. Facebook to keep in touch with family/friends. Empires & Puzzles, a game I like to play on my phone.

If you could live anyplace in the world for a year, where would it be and why? I would like to live in Hawaii for a year. My Dad passed away in December and he was from Hawaii. It would give me a chance to get to know my cousins and his side of the family better.
Thanks to everyone who responded to last month's question: How many languages can you speak? There were 14 responses (note: "four or more" received no votes): 
This month's question:
What is your favorite type of summer vacation?
Visit the coast
Hike or camp in the Sierra
Visit out-of-town family
Stay home and chill
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 dofa@ucmerced.edu
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: