Friday, January 23, 2015

Special Edition: Ken Sinarski's Retirement from U.Va. on January 23, 2015

Many of you already know that Ken's last day at the University is Friday, January 23rd.  If you did know, and it had slipped your mind, you have a chance still today to say goodbye and wish him well!

Ken came to U.Va. in 1978, and he has helped steer the efforts of various of its Finance teams through good times and bad, for richer and for poorer.  And those who know him will never see a T account without thinking warmly of working with him.  Below are comments from Sarah Doran, Steve Kimata and Leonard Sandridge, cribbed from reminiscences delivered to Ken at various functions in his honor over the last few weeks.  We will miss having Ken with us every day, his ready smile and his unfailing loyalty to his colleagues and his commitment to making the University great.  We wish him the best of health and happiness in his retirement!

From Sarah Doran

I remember the first time I talked to Ken.  He called on a Saturday morning to ask if I’d be interested in coming in to interview for an Accounting Intern position with UVA.  I didn’t like accounting all that much, but I had been working as a wage employee in another department, and I knew I didn’t want to do that job for much longer.  Ken hired me in 1986 to fill that intern position, and 29 years later, I am still very thankful for that phone call from Ken and the opportunity to work with him and many of the other wonderful folks that he hired.  We accomplished a lot of great work under Ken’s direction, and had an awful lot of fun along the way, despite the number of T accounts he made us review on the chalkboard and white boards.  

There were times when we showed our love by doing things that would embarrass him, he took it all in stride and with good humor.  All I can say here is belly dancer.  But my favorite memory of Ken has to be the time that Ken, Stacey, Dave and I decided to be the women’s Olympic relay team in 1996 for Halloween.  Ken had never really dressed up with his departments for Halloween.  And there had been some pretty amazing themes!  But that year, he decided that if he was going to dress up for Halloween, he was going to do it right!!  He had his wife Anne help him with his hair and nails, and we were introduced one by one to the group who was judging the Halloween contest.  Ken was the last to be introduced, and the faces of the people who knew were spectacular.  Not only did he look great as a woman, he also did a great job acting the part.   I still don’t think that Steve has recovered.

I’m honored to have known Ken over the past 29 years.  We have had many ups and downs together.  We’ve experienced the joy of our children growing up, and the death of beloved colleagues, various illnesses and hospitalizations.  Through it all, Ken has remained steadfast in his loyalty to the people he hired and mentored, and I for one cannot imagine how my life would have been were it not for that Saturday phone call.

Ken, thank you for the many years, and have a blast in your retirement!  Don’t forget us!

From Steve Kimata 
Ken is from Cleveland, Ohio.  He was born with a heart condition, which required surgery at an early age and which has required constant vigilance and other open heart surgeries during his lifetime.  He’s our bionic man as he currently enjoys a titanium heart valve and a half a million dollar pacemaker.

For much of his 36 years, Ken oversaw Accounting Operations, which was comprised of General Accounting, Payroll and Accounts Payable.  He has also been responsible for Accounts Receivable, Banking Services, Credit Cards and Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance.

One area that Ken focused on during his time at U.Va. was systems implementations.  To name a few:

he led the major effort at implementing CAPPS, the Computerized Accounts Payable and Purchasing System; he helped implement the McCormick and Dodge Payroll System…three times.; in addition to working on the Oracle Finance implementation, he oversaw the implementation of its new Accounts Receivable module; and on the Peoplesoft Student Information Systems implementation, he was responsible for making sure all of the accounting information flowed correctly from the student system to Oracle Finance.

What Ken enjoyed the most, his passion really, was interviewing, hiring and developing people.  It is accurate to say that during his 36 years at U.Va., he has either hired directly, or helped hire indirectly, hundreds and hundreds of staff.  He spent a great deal of time mentoring these hires, taking them to lunches, joining them at conferences, and introducing them to colleagues at other institutions and state agencies.

I remember Ken telling me that he couldn’t worry too much about his future because with his heart problems he never had any guarantee about being alive tomorrow.  So he had to live for today.  And what made each day special for him was the time he spent with his colleagues, friends and family.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years from you, Ken, no matter what it’s the people who matter.  Spending time with your friends; helping them grow; working together as a team to make possible the impossible…those are the things you had a passion for and that you did so well. 

In life, we eventually realize that there is a purpose for everyone we meet.  Some people are there to test you.  Some will use you.   Some will teach you and some will bring out the best in you.

You’ve taught and brought out the best in many of us.  You’ve left your imprint on our hearts, certainly on my heart, and all of us and this institution, which you have cherished and sweated blood for, are so much better for it.

On behalf of all the people you’ve touched, thank you so much, Ken. 

From Leonard Sandridge

Your commitment to the development of people and mentoring leaves a legacy that will benefit U.Va. long after you retire.  We have benefited from the continuity, institutional history and good judgment that you have brought to so much of what we did.  You have been available and accessible to help others.  And throughout your journey, you have been loyal and reliable and you have always acted with integrity.  You have made us a better place.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Excel Tips & Tricks: Navigating with Shortcut Keys

Navigating an Excel worksheet and selecting cells using shortcut keys (without your mouse) can savetime and wasted motion—really helpful for laptop users! A long list of shortcuts can be daunting, soselect a few of these useful Excel shortcuts, write them on a Post-It note and affix to your monitor. Practice those and when they become second nature, find a few more and stick them upwhere you will see them. How long can you go without clicking the mouse????

All of Mark Anderson’s previous posts are archived in the Technology Tips & Tricks category of the AVPF News Blog. Please leave a comment below or email Mark (mla3er) and let him know what you think of these tips, or if you have a request for a future topic.

Start the Year Right with Your Development Plan!

Happy New Year from the Center for Leadership Excellence! With the changing of the calendar, we have a natural tendency to look back over the prior year and then look ahead towards what the next year will bring. Resolutions are made to “do better,” whatever that means for each of us - eat healthy, exercise, spend time with loved ones, among others.

It should be no surprise that goals related to education, career development, and new job opportunities are often included on our lists of resolutions. In the rapidly changing world of work, employees are expected to be flexible, adaptable and creative in identifying ways to broaden their experience and leverage their skills. Rapid advancements in technology require employees to upgrade their skills and “retool” themselves just to remain current with their job requirements.

Considering all the time and energy you spend at work, why not ensure that you get maximum satisfaction from your work and career? Having a sense of where you are headed in your career helps you — and your manager — make good choices about work assignments and learning opportunities that can enrich your current job, lead to promotion through job growth or help you transition to another position. It also helps your manager to better understand the strengths and interests of their team, creating a more effective organization and a more satisfying work environment.
Here at UVa, we believe that career development is a shared responsibility between the employee, the manager and the University. Your Leadership Team in the Finance Division is committed to ongoing employee growth and development as demonstrated by their 2015 AVPF goal to “Create a development plan for each employee including internal and external training offerings.”

So how do you make that happen? Creating a development plan can be done in three steps – Explore – Think – Act!!!

  • Step 1 Explore - Reflect on who you are, what you do well and when you are most alive and energized by exploring your skills, preferences, values and interests.
  •  Step 2 Think - Set career goals and map out a strategy to achieve them by collaborating with your manager to develop an annual career development plan using LEAD@UVa.
    • Familiarize yourself with the UVa Job Structure and the skills, knowledge and experience required to be successful in your current position, as well as those that support career progression and transition.
    • Explore Education Opportunities and Training Opportunities
    • Identify professional development opportunities using the Career Development Tool
    • Select development activities that support goal achievement, competency development or career growth. Activities may include attending a training class, joining a professional association, participating in a mentoring program, attending a conference or reading a book.
  •  Step 3 Act - Take action to accomplish your goals and manage your career.
    • Monitor your career progress by checking your goals and development plan in LEAD@UVa frequently and record your success.
    • Update your development plan as needed and continue to have frequent conversations with your manager regarding your progress.

Career development is a lifelong process of managing learning, work and job-related transitions. The Center for Leadership Excellence is here to encourage, support, and provide opportunities for the ongoing growth and development of each employee. For more information about creating development plans or programs offered by the Center for Leadership Excellence, contact us at or 434.982.0123.

No matter your resolution, we wish you a happy and fulfilling 2015.

From Melody's Desk: Performance Goals & Development Plans

Happy New Year!  We are kicking off the new year by thinking about performance goals and employee development plans.  As I hope you all know, one of the finance division goals for 2015 is to “create a development plan for each employee including internal and external training offerings.”  To that end, I’ve asked Christina Landes from the Center for Leadership Excellence to write a guest blog post on how to do this.  You will see that in this issue – please take a look and utilize the great links and hints that she has provided.  And mention this to your co-workers who may not be checking in with the blog regularly.

Don’t forget to use Finance Division goals in developing your own goals and performance plans.  And, if you are a manager, in reviewing the goals of your team.  I have two suggestions…

  • Include one goal for every employee that looks to “improve service, reduce inefficiency.”  Be specific by identifying upfront during the goal development exactly what process you want to improve.
  • Include one goal or development activity that looks to “improve communication and transparency with internal and external stakeholders.” One suggestion is to plan to grab coffee or to lunch with someone from another area (ITS, UHR, Procurement) and use the time to brainstorm on a solution to a shared problem.  Informal conversations can often be more productive than formal ones.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Employee Additions and Changes in Student Financial Services

As we welcome 2015 in Student Financial Services, we also welcome a new employee. Isaiah Behnke begins work at SFS on Monday, January 13th, assuming the role of Student Accounts Manager. Isaiah joins us from WorldStrides, where he served as an Account Manager. In his role in SFS, Isaiah will be responsible for managing day-to-day operations regarding student accounts, monthly payment plans, veteran’s benefits, 3rd-party contracts, and relationships with Campus Partners and Nelnet Business Solutions, among other activities.

John Martin has assumed the position of Assistant Director, Financial Aid. John had been an Undergraduate Financial Aid Administrator since joining SFS in December of 2013. In his new role, John will oversee most of the special programs or sessions for financial aid, including the awarding of financial aid for Summer Session, January Term, and Study Abroad, as well as managing the Satisfactory Academic Progress process and outreach coordination. In addition to being a great employee and colleague, John is also a proud Green Bay Packers fan.

Also taking on new responsibilities is Alaric Hammell, who was promoted to a Tier 2 Customer Service Representative. Tier 2 agents provide extremely important service to our students, parents, and outside customers. They are trained in all aspects of the work SFS does—financial aid, student accounting, loans, and scholarships—and their contacts are usually complex situations that require great sleuthing skills as well as tact, patience, and poise. Alaric joined Student Financial Services in April as a Tier 1 Customer Service Representative, joining us from University Advancement.

Happy New Year from the Managerial Reporting Project Team!

We are off and running on a busy 2015! The MRP team continues to support UFM Reporting and is already working on the strategic planning phase of the Decision Support System portion of the project. Additionally, the Orange Data and Process Improvement Teams continue to build on the great work they achieved during the fall.

The MRP team is also happy to introduce Forrest Swope, the new Data Stewardship Lead. In his role, Forrest will manage the project’s complex current-state business process mapping and assessment for university-wide data stewardship. His responsibilities include improving the overall management of the availability, usability and integrity of decision support information across grounds.

Forrest comes to UVa from Silverchair, where he was the Senior Director for Platform Development. He has lived in Charlottesville for 30 years, and is a UVa alum. Forrest played in a band in the ‘90s and even opened for Phish and Dave Matthews. He and his wife Caroline have two teenage daughters, two cats and a dog.