Thursday, January 11, 2018

Taking Service a Step Further

Student Financial Services and the Office of Financial Planning and Analysis Offer Assistance During Tuition & Fee Setting

This past fall, Student Financial Services teamed up with the Office of Financial Planning and Analysis (the “budget office”) to trek across Grounds to visit with multiple UVA schools and units during a very special time of the academic year: tuition and fee increase request time.

Every year, schools and units establish their budgets for all programs. Part of the process is deciding what tuition and fees rates to charge. It’s a complex process that the Office of Financial Planning and Analysis (OFP&A) had already helped to streamline last year by putting together a centralized tool for submitting the requests.

The brainchild of Disha Venkatesan and Jennifer Hale, the “Tuition and Fee Tool,” was built by CACS in partnership with representatives from OFP&A SFS, and EA-ITS SIS Finance. It has made the process easier and more visible for all the UVA entities with a stake in the tuition & fee setting process, but this year, Sarah Doran of Student Financial Services realized there was still an opportunity for UVAFinance to collaborate with its stakeholders: proactive, face to face conversations.

Carruthers Hall Improvements: Many partners help produce great results

Carruthers Hall has not necessarily been known for its beauty.

Traditionally, it looks its best in early spring, when a flood of daffodils bloom near the main entrance. At most other times of the year, the grounds around it are leafy or muddy or otherwise fairly bare, and sprinkled with worn-down spots where people have beaten their own paths to cross Emmet Street.

Carruthers Hall before exterior renovations.
We can't wait to post an "after" picture
this spring!
 Yet Carruthers serves many visitors from across Grounds including students and parents. For some time, some improvements have been needed.

Besides ongoing renovation work within the building, a steady stream of activity has been taking place with the aim of improving both the appearance and safety of Carruthers’ exterior spaces. Those projects have been the result of much-appreciated collaboration with many departments and funding from diverse sources.

Over the course of three years, parking and walkways have been improved, and outdoor seating and spaces have been added. And, says Disha Venkatesan of UVAFinance, there is still more to come.

See the SIS Discoverer Sunset in 2018!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Temporary relocation of Finance Outreach & Compliance

Ongoing renovation and office space reconfiguration in Carruthers Hall has required Finance Outreach and Compliance staff to vacate their office suite until March 2018, when they will relocate to a new office space within Carruthers. Most FOC staff will work remotely during the transition time, while others will remain in temporary office spaces on Grounds.

FOC staff members are available as normal via their direct dial telephone numbers, email addresses, and on Skype. They will also frequently be on Grounds and in Carruthers for meetings, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have needs.


Kennedy returns to Outreach & Compliance

We couldn't resist the "New Adventures"joke.

This December, Christine E. Kennedy joined Finance Outreach and Compliance (FOC) as a Compliance Analyst. Kennedy is no stranger to compliance: she was on the compliance team when it was part of Sponsored Programs for nearly four years before moving to the University Audit Department three years ago.

In her new role, Kennedy will review, revise, and write policy and procedure, and make certain UVA well-positioned within the changing regulatory landscape. She describes her position as “her old job on steroids,” and as a role of service to the University community.

Mark your calendar!

You won't want to miss the 2nd Annual Travel and Expense Expo!  Watch for more details soon . . .

Student Financial Services welcomes Kris Hopkins

As Associate Director for Undergraduate Financial Aid, Kris Hopkins manages the undergraduate need-based aid team in Student Financial Services. New to this role and to UVA as of December 4, Hopkins has a wealth of experience in financial aid, most recently at Colgate University, as well as experience in career services, alumni affairs, and even government relations. 

 The thread that ties her background together is a love of facilitating: helping others to clear obstacles so they can do what they feel they’re meant to do.

In her new role at UVA, Hopkins looks forward to working with the undergraduate aid team to help students and families understand the sometimes complex world of financial aid.

Small Dollar Purchase Limit Raised

As of January 7, 2018, the small dollar purchase limit has changed from $5,000 to $10,000. Procurement & Supplier Diversity Services and the Office of Sponsored Programs partnered to implement this change, which puts the University in line with new federal grant small dollar purchase limits, and also reduces the administrative burden of purchasing, invoicing, and receiving processes for University departments.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Taming of the Queue

When members of the UVA research community submit sponsored program proposals, those proposals, and the resulting awards, as well as various post award requests go into a pipeline for processing by the pre award team. This pipeline, often referred to as the queue, has long been stuffed with up to several hundred transactions at a time. In an attempt to work through the backlog, pre award team members have sometimes been able to make admirable headway, but the actions have always piled up once more, seemingly insurmountable.

Until now.

In the last four months, the pre award team has not only focused diligently on the speedy processing of the queue
but also, they’ve tackled the underlying processes that cause the delays and backlogs.

The team has implemented process improvements for certain types of transactions, like the implementation of the ePRF, and then began to work on different types of transactions, making big process changes even while they “kept the trains moving” in the queue.

Kelly Morrison, Director of Pre Award, said the team’s focus was shoring up basic business processes, adding checklists and appropriate levels of review, and removing bottlenecks in the workflow. Morrison also re-evaluated staff roles during this process, making sure that not only did they have enough staff, but also, that the right people were doing the right jobs for their skill sets.

“The focus in the past had been just pushing through transactions,” Morrison said, explaining further that the problem with that approach was that haste made for errors that had to be corrected later on, slowing the process.

Morrison said that even though additional review and checklists might sound counterintuitive when the aim is to speed up a process, taking the time to make sure things are done correctly the first time has produced big, sustainable results for the team: they’ve seen a 70% drop in the number of actions in the queue.

Investing in Managers: UVAFinance Management Development Program begins second cohort

A Gallup poll of over 1 million employed US workers concluded that the number one people quit their jobs is because of issues with their immediate supervisor. Gallup also determined that poor management results in work groups that are on average 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups.

The recognition of how much is at stake when it comes to properly training managers to manage was the inspiration behind UVAFinance’s partnership with the Center for Leadership Excellence to launch the Management Development Program (MDP), a year-long course for UVAFinance managers.

The course curriculum includes three components: 360 feedback, four skills development sessions, and individualized leadership coaching. This January, the first cohort of 18 managers will graduate. The second cohort of 13 managers has already begun the program.