Thursday, February 22, 2018

From Melody's Desk

Dear Colleagues,

Since his arrival in August, Vice President for Research Ram Ramasubramanian and I have been collaborating closely for additional improvements and the optimal organization for research administration. Based on our observations, industry best practices, and consultant recommendations, we are moving forward with the realignment of the Office of Sponsored Programs to report to the Vice President for Research (VPR).

For the past two years, UVAFinance has been focused on building a community from previously disparate organizations. We look forward to extending that community, that network, to the VPR.

At a recent visit, Pres-elect Ryan asked the VPs: What is one thing that doesn’t cost anything that we can do to make UVA stronger?

Answers given included: better collaboration, working across boundaries, build institutional trust. All of these are great answers, but Rick Shannon, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, summed it up most succinctly: build commitment to a common mission.

This re-alignment represents all of those thoughts. OSP will reside with the VPR, with a common alignment of the research mission, building a more cohesive, stronger research support community, and UVAFinance will continue to be part of the extended family and supporting network. We will all work together with a commitment to being valued and trusted partners, extending that foundation even beyond UVAFinance.

OSP will begin to report to the VPR this spring. Given the Post-Award Accounting Team’s emphasis on financial compliance, accounting, and financial systems, we will establish a dotted reporting line through the AVP for Finance Operations, Jerry Burke, to the Office of the Vice President for Finance. This is particularly important as the University undergoes a finance transformation, emphasizing service delivery, process improvement, and strong financial accounting systems. OSP will remain located in Carruthers Hall.

OSP has many notable achievements in its recent past, in the form of ResearchUVA, Juice, improvements in Oracle, stabilization of the pre-award queue, and much more. A number of important objectives remain as we continue to strive to have a best-in-class research administration function, and UVAFinance looks forward to working collaboratively with OSP and the VPR to see those goals become reality.

Questions that are just as important as answers

The first book chosen for UVAFinance’s book club is “Wait, What?: And Life’s Other Essential Questions” by incoming UVA President James Ryan. One of two discussion sessions on this book is remaining – all are invited to join us at our March 15 Book Club session, held from 12 – 1pm in Carruthers – 2. The book is brief, touching, and inspiring!

We’ve recapped Ryan’s main points in the graphic accompanying this post, because even if you don’t read the book (although we highly recommend it!), you might want to pause for a moment and think about how these questions might help you ensure understanding, generate new ideas, inspire progress, encourage responsibility, and remain focused on what is truly important.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The forecast is looking pretty “CHILI”

UVAFinance, do you have March 23 saved on your calendar? We want everyone to join us for the 2nd Annual UVAFinance Potluck Event.

We’re also excited to announce that this year, we’ll again have a Chili Cookoff. Do you make a racy red chili? A great green chili? A va-va-voom veggie chili? All chili types are welcome, and collaborative efforts are fine, too.

Because it’s a potluck event, please consider what side dish or dessert you might want to share with your colleagues.

A sign up for both chili and side dishes will come to your email inbox very soon – be on the lookout!

Questions? Contact

Office of Financial Planning & Analysis Welcomes Palvi Sharma

Palvi Sharma
Palvi Sharma joined the Office of Financial Planning & Analysis this January as a Senior Financial Analyst. In her role, Sharma works with schools and units doing cost analyses for the Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate.

Sharma comes to UVA Finance from the UVA Health System, where she worked as a Financial Decision Support Analyst. Her work in that role was similar to her current job: she was focused on cost accounting, assessing fixed and variable costs even down to the patient level so that administrators could make appropriate budget decisions.

Although she wasn’t that interested in cost accounting during school, Sharma says she’s come to love it, citing her ability to help decision makers see where there is room for improvement, and where resources can better be allocated. 

“I like the more analytical piece of what I do – it’s a challenge every day, and there are really
practical implications to the work I do in cost analysis,” she said.

Sharma and her husband Ashish, an Assistant Professor of Research in the Department of Surgery, live in Charlottesville with their two sons, who keep them busy with basketball and soccer season.

UVAFinance Welcomes Mara Hilliar

Mara Hilliar
Mara Hilliar will join the UVAFinance team on March 5 as Executive Assistant to the Vice President. With over 20 years’ experience in executive-level assistant and office manager positions, eleven of which have been in higher education, Hilliar comes to UVAFinance most recently from the School of Architecture, where she was assistant to the dean.

A 1984 graduate of UVA, Hilliar has experience as a liaison with elected officials, cabinet secretaries, the Governor’s office, local and regional officials, and the business community, and has coordinated the development of a college-wide budget and has conducted budget analysis and planned and executed college-wide events.

Hilliar will be located in front of the VP Finance suite beside Stacey Rittenhouse. She looks forward to meeting her new colleagues, so please don’t hesitate to stop by and say hello!

Transforming the Way UVA Manages Sponsored Awards

Historically, information collection and tracking related to UVA’s sponsor awards has been limited. To manage and grow the University’s research portfolio in support of its strategic imperatives, we need a level of insight and intelligence into our sponsored awards we’ve not had before. The Pre-Award team is working with ResearchUVA developers to build a formal infrastructure for the setup and ongoing management of sponsored awards. 

This work will help us better understand the overall institutional funding portfolio (from the big picture down to more detailed perspectives), improve our ability to make accurate projections, and manage multi-year funding opportunities efficiently and effectively. These changes will also enable us to more accurately track and report on various elements in Juice, the sponsored programs dashboard. Read more.

Feeling a little weighed down by process improvement? Try Lean Lite!

Are you interested in learning more about the Lean approach to process improvement? Perhaps you’ve thought about completing the Leading a Lean Transformation certificate program, but want to learn some fundamentals of Lean before you commit to completing the full program.

Many others in UVAFinance and across Grounds have become “Lean-certified” through this program and if you don’t understand the concepts or know the terminology, it may seem like they are speaking a different language. 

The training team in Finance Outreach and Compliance will offer a 3 hour blended (some online work followed by an instructor-led facilitated presentation, discussion and activities) on April 11 in the afternoon. The class will be held in Carruthers Hall, Carr-1 and Carr-2.  This pilot session will be open to UVAFinance, but subsequent sessions will be open to anyone on Grounds.  If you're very interested in checking out the April 11 pilot session, contact Patty Marbury.

The exact time, a course description, and enrollment information will be in the next blog digest. If this interests you, hold the date now and look for more details to come!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Call for Volunteers: Travel and Expense Expo 2018

The Travel and Expense Expo is lots of fun:  great info, giveaways, networking, and prizes.  With over 400 attendees, we need a few extra hands during the event.  If you would like to pitch in, please check out our Sign Up Genius link below to let us know where you can assist.  We really appreciate your help!

Look for an email invite to attend the expo to land in your inbox soon!

Organizational Excellence Quality Core Event Schedule

The new Quality Core Event schedule from OE is available.  Check out their offerings below, and register at

Thursday, February 8, 2018

It’s Goal Time: UVAFinance Goals due by February 23

The first draft of your goals are due in Lead@UVA by February 23. Although you won’t enter it in Lead@UVA, you should also identify one professional development opportunity to discuss with your manager by February 23.

It’s February, and many of us may be struggling to adhere to the resolutions we made for the New Year (you’re not alone if you are – research suggests only 8% of Americans keep those resolutions). It’s also the time of the year that we in UVAFinance need to consider our plans and goals for the workplace and our careers. Here are some guidelines to help you set smart, achievable goals that will advance your career and help us all be successful.


What will you achieve this year and how will you incorporate the UVAFinance core values [Impeccable source of information * Service excellence * Innovative action * Collaborative partner * Valued, high-performing teams] in your daily work? By aligning your goals to the UVA core values, you can enhance both our organization and your individual performance.

When setting your goals, think about making them SMART goals and setting at least one “stretch” goal.