Thursday, October 15, 2015

From Melody's Desk: October 15

October 15, 2015

I just returned from the EACUBO annual meeting in Philadelphia where I heard great presentations, met interesting colleagues, became inspired and re-energized, and explored the Reading Terminal Market (the fresh squeezed lemonade and cinnamon sugar pretzel from Miller’s Twist were excellent).

I wanted to share with you a few take-away ideas from a session by Jeff Hoffman, a very successful entrepreneur (heard of and motivational speaker. Mr. Hoffman spoke about innovation, specifically five actions that we can take to be more innovative. I’ll give you a quick summary and suggest that you watch his TED talk for more. His five suggested actions that we can all take:

1.      Don't get used to your surroundings. Be sure to stop and see everything like it was your first time. Watch the TED talk to hear about the “why?” game.

2.      Be an “info-sponge” by constantly scanning the rest of the world, especially the world beyond our homes, our offices, and even higher education. Take 10 minutes every day to read or watch or observe something new.

3.      Hold “blue sky sessions” with co-workers, colleagues, and key stakeholders where we ask the question “if we could start all over, what could we do better?” Don’t worry about the reasonableness of the responses… 99 of the ideas might not be implementable, then the 100th may be the best idea ever.

4.      Deepen our understanding of our primary stakeholders - students, parents, researchers, business administrators. Do this by meeting them in their comfort zone, dressed similarly to them, and without an agenda – just “hang out,” listen, and learn.

5.      Re-think of our workplace with a culture of experimentation. Do small things differently on a regular basis and see if we stumble on a better way. If the experiment isn’t better, it is not a big deal to go back to the old way or to try a new way.

One idea from Mr. Hoffman’s presentation really made me stop and think:  he advocated for each of us to be unreasonable at times. Doesn’t that sound odd? I’ve always tried to be reasonable and practical. And I think that approach has served me well in many situations.  But, I’ll leave you with one last quote from George Bernard Shaw on reasonableness and ask you to think about what this means to you.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man."

Have a great weekend and hope to see you at the CVC Cornhole tournament tomorrow!


Using Your Volunteer Leave

All University Staff are allotted 16 hours of School Assistance and Volunteer Service Leave. Have you used yours? The guidelines for using this leave are broad (contact UHR to determine a specific opportunity's eligibility). Many people have put their leave to good use in local schools and other community service efforts. Here are some examples:

Mark Anderson spends an hour each week working one-on-one with a participant at Computers4Kids to tackle computer projects. At the end of 36 sessions, the participant takes home their very own computer.

For two years in a row, Andrew Bedotto travelled to Massachusetts to assist The Institute for Natural Learning in facilitating a weekend outdoor mentoring program for adolescent boys.

Randy Ellis and his fellow coaches at Western Albemarle spend time with kids at the YMCA to talk about coaching and mentoring.

For several years, Lynn Galasso used school/volunteer leave hours to support her son in the High School Regional & State Academic Quiz Tournament competitions in Richmond and Northern Virginia.

Alpana Gautam uses her leave to volunteer at her daughter’s elementary school. Recently she helped make the salt dough maps that students will be using for a geography project.

Kobby Hoffman speaks to middle schools students in Albemarle County regarding leadership, involvement in community service and personal finance.

Lisa Layne volunteered at Caring for Creatures in Fluvanna, helping with the cats and dogs.

For the past three years, Mike Ludwick has used his service leave (and some annual leave) to go on week-long trips to West Virginia with the high school youth group from his church to help improve housing conditions for those in need.

Patty Marbury spent a week in Darlington County, South Carolina with Habitat for Humanity doing a “blitz build”--a team of about 50 people built an entire house from foundation to roof in 6 days!

Lynne Schwar knits shawls for Caring Embrace, a volunteer group at Martha Jefferson Hospital, who provide shawls for patients and often family members who could use a little comforting after a tough diagnosis or death of a loved one. She has also volunteered at Hope's Legacy Equine Rescue in Afton, feeding the horses and doing barn chores.

Marissa Waddell volunteered as a docent at the Charlottesville Design House for the Shelter for Help in Emergency, which provides services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Managerial Reporting Project Fall Town Hall

After our successful March Town Hall, 90% of our MRP stakeholders asked us to hold other similar events in the future. We heard you, and on Thursday, November 5th, the MRP team will present an update on project accomplishments and statuses. Come to the Managerial Reporting Project Fall Town Hall and together, let's write the story of how our project outcomes will reach the broader University.

Bookmark This: GMS Interface Codes & Contact Info

If you are preparing or approving a monthly reconciliation, you may have asked “What are these transactions that begin with GMSA-?” The prefix GMSA- tells us that the transaction was uploaded to the Integrated System from a file generated by a school or department. Check out the GMS Interface Contact Information sheet to crack the code found in the transaction number that tells which area created the batch. To navigate to this document from the Comptroller's home page, click "Important Links," then "ISP Contact Information."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

SFS Launches MyIntuition Quick College Cost Estimator

In September, SFS launched MyIntuition, a new tool for estimating the amounts of financial aid and family contribution a student can expect for one academic year. With just 9 questions, it is much simpler and faster than the Federally mandated Net Price Calculator, but maintains a very high level of accuracy.

U.Va.'s use of this new tool was highlighted by The New York Times and EAB. The articles quote President Sullivan, who said she hopes this tool will help “avoid the possibility of losing prospective students due to misperceptions about cost.”

You can try the MyIntuition calculator at

MRP New Team Members

Navya, Steve and Katie

Navya Kommalapati is also a new ETL Developer on the MRP team. She is originally from Hyderabad, India, and came to the United States to attend graduate school in Alabama. Navya was an ETL consultant for five years, so like Steve, she brings valuable business and data experience—but from the telecom, retail and healthcare sectors. Navya is excited to learn and use the many new MRP tools and applications, and is eager to get involved in other project tasks in addition to her ETL work.

Navya enjoys outdoor activities, and is even teaching herself how to swim! She recently spent an entire weekend cooking an authentic Indian feast, so the MRP team hopes Navya will bring one or two delicacies to Fontaine someday.

Steve Patterson joined the Managerial Reporting Project as an ETL Developer. That is extract, transform and load—tech jargon for transforming data from our various source systems, and bringing it into the new data warehouse. ETL is a critical step for the project to deliver the future reporting environments. Steve has more than 15 years of business intelligence, technical and leadership experience in the financial services, publishing and not-for-profit sectors.  He also adds valuable Agile methodology experience to the team—he is a Certified Scrum Master, and will help advise the team on Agile/Scrum best practices. 

Outside of work, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Jen, and their four children (ages 8,10,13 and 15), as well as reading and long distance running. He has run the Charlottesville Marathon, and three half marathons, and enjoys running the Rivanna trail right outside his Fontaine office.

Katie Lake is the new Office Manager for the Managerial Reporting Project. She is a recent UVA graduate, with a degree in linguistics. While in school, Katie was a research assistant for a study on the Mopan Mayan language. As an alumna, Katie is excited to kick off her career at UVA, and is thrilled that the Managerial Reporting Project will provide an opportunity to work with many new people around the University. The rest of the project team is also excited to welcome Katie and her enthusiasm for UVA.

As a linguist, it is no surprise Katie admits to “nerding-out” about languages. She also loves Battlestar Galactica and classical music—and even plays the guitar, drums and piano! Like many other newly-employed recent college graduates, Katie joined her first fantasy football league. She says it is “not going too well.”

Comptroller's Office: Updates on Audit and Cardinal

The audit is in its final two weeks and going smoothly. The APA is frantically trying to wrap up their audit. The University submitted its consolidated financial information to the State on 9/23 (as required) for the State’s CAFR.

Cardinal implementation is entering its training phase where several UVA folks will be attending both on-line and in-person classes with the Cardinal training team. This will continue until the end of October. We have already done testing on “Mock” data, comparing CARRS reports to Cardinal reports and noted NO exceptions. February 1st is till the “Go Live” date for Cardinal.

2015 Day of Caring

This September, 36 volunteers from the Associate VP for Finance area completed three projects at area schools for the annual United Way Day of Caring:

 A group of 8 went to Walker Elementary School, where they attended 4 different lunch periods with 5th and 6th grade students who were asked to sit at tables where they didn’t know everyone. They played Bingo, which required that they interact with those other students who they might not know. Math seemed to be the favorite subject of most of the students-- Sarah Doran said, "I told them if they keep up the good work, they could come work for us some day!"

A group of 11 went to Western Albemarle High School, where they had a great day landscaping and assembling two picnic tables.

A group of 17 went to Nathanael Greene Primary School, where they created two 10 x 10 number grids on the playgrounds--a great project for a bunch of accountants and project managers! It was a total team effort, the group NEEDED and utilized all of the planning, analytical, and project management skills its members had to offer.

Excel Tips & Tricks: The Quick Access Toolbar

Do you ever find yourself clicking through the Ribbon in Excel (or other MS Office programs), because you can’t quite remember which tab you need?  The Quick Access Toolbar allows you to easily customize your favorite or most often-used commands, saving time and reducing frustration.