Friday, November 17, 2017

UVAFinance welcomes James Gorman to leadership team

James Gorman is no stranger to managing large-scale change. He has been involved in major change initiatives, project and portfolio management, and strategic planning at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan, and has served as a business analyst at Ford Motor Company. A Six Sigma Green Belt, Gorman also has a Project Management Professional certification and an MBA from the University Of Michigan Ross School Of Business.

His background will serve him well now that he has joined UVAFinance as Senior Director for Finance Strategic Projects. In this role, Gorman will manage and coordinate UVAFinance project management processes and functions and lead process improvement teams, and will take a leadership role as the organization looks toward Finance Strategic Transformation.

Gorman says he was attracted to the role because it spoke to his passion: working with people and helping them solve problems. 

“The best thing about my career has been that I get to interact with people of diverse mindsets and backgrounds, all of whom have different ways of approaching problems,” he says.

“I learn from almost every interaction I have with someone, and it’s that continued personal and professional development that drives me.”

Besides the good fit he saw in the job description, Gorman was also excited at the opportunity to work at UVA.

“It’s a highly ranked institution and frankly, a phenomenal place,” he says, adding that as he met people from UVA during the interview process, he became more engaged and attached to the idea of coming to work here.

At the time of this article, Gorman has been on the job nearly a week, and he already likes what he sees. “There are great leaders within the finance organization,” he observes.

“They’re passionate about what they do, they care, and they’re putting thought, effort and resources into finding the root causes of the challenges they’re facing.”

In addition to getting to know his colleagues in UVAFinance, Gorman has been venturing out across Grounds to meet finance stakeholders in an effort to better understand the initiatives already underway and ones set to begin, as well as what’s working well and where the challenges are.

The key thing to any successful change, he says, is getting people involved from every aspect of the process. “We want a future state that works better for everybody,” he says.

“Helping the people in organizations come together to solve problems and make things work better is what I enjoy doing,” he says.

“I look forward to being a part of that here at UVA.”

A Team Effort: Student Financial Services supports UVA's student-athletes

797 student-athletes,
70 student scouts and managers,
23 sports,
566 contacts in 2016,
629 contacts to date this year . . . 

. . . and 3 very flexible Athletic Financial Aid professionals in Student Financial Services.

Valerie Clem, Almanita Graves, and Sharlene Sajonas work in Student Financial Aid, focusing on Athletic Aid, and they love what they do. Balancing two office locations, two teams of colleagues, and understanding the ins and outs of 23 different sports, working nights, weekends, and odd hours, the three agree that all of the craziness is worth it when they see a student-athlete they’ve worked with excel at their sport or in the classroom.

Just as student-athletes must work hard to strike a balance between their studies and the sport they play, Clem, Graves, and Sajonas have to exert a lot of effort to make sure those students have what they need to be successful at UVA . . . and they have to do it quickly, and sometimes at a moment’s notice.

Almanita Graves and Valerie Clem of Student Financial 
Services work with student-athlete Juwan Moye.

“There is a huge compliance piece and sometimes incredible urgency when you need to certify a student-athlete's eligibility to compete” Sajonas comments. She says with all student-athletes have to worry about: academic and athletic demands, and sometimes personal situations, financial aid shouldn’t be in the forefront.

To make the financial aid process less worrisome to students, Sajonas, Clem, and Graves split their time between the Student Financial Aid offices in Carruthers Hall and the Athletics Compliance offices in McCue Hall.

The team’s presence in McCue mean that student-athletes don’t have to come to Carruthers to do paperwork and get their questions answered, and it also allows the team to work closely with coaches, grad assistant coaches, and colleagues in the athletics department (especially, says Sajonas, Eric Baumgartner and Rob Slavis in Athletics Compliance).

Clem says that no matter where she is for the day, she keeps a copy of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) manual on her desk for reference at all times.

“You have to explain all the NCAA bylaws on financial aid to student-athletes, and financial aid is such a weird language in itself,” she says.

Whether it’s financial aid or outside scholarships, everything must meet NCAA guidelines.

“It’s a constant challenge because you have to combine federal regulations, institutional policies, and the NCAA/ACC bylaws,” says Sajonas.

And when those complex requirements are blended with the time crunch that comes with being student-athletes, the team often finds itself quite literally running from point A to point B.

“Student-athletes have all the same anxieties as other students, but they also have intense time demands placed on them,” says Graves, who recalls catching up with one student-athlete near the Barracks’s Road Shopping Center.

“It was the only time he could meet me to get a signature,” she says.

“I started out walking from Carruthers, and he started heading my way from McCue, and we met in the middle. They have very little ‘free time’, so we make an effort to be flexible and work with them. This ensures we are able to assist them with what they need.”

Once upon a time, Sajonas was the lone Athletic Aid team member. Two years ago, Graves was hired, and Clem came on board in April 2017.

All three agree: the job can be stressful and tiring, but they really love what they do.

That enthusiasm is not lost on the coaches at UVA.

“It’s not just me and my assistant coaches who put in the work,” says Steve Garland, Head Wrestling Coach.

“Financial aid helps us turn over every stone in hopes we can find every last cent for these families. It is a total team effort.”

When coaches call, says Sajonas, the Athletic Aid team is at the ready, as their needs are nearly always time-sensitive.

“You never quite know when you’ll be asked to meet with a recruit or their parents,” she explains. “The coaches call and say, ‘hey, we have some recruits coming in tomorrow, and they have questions. I’ve met many recruits and their parents Saturday mornings last fall, and it’s really gratifying to see most of them here today.”

Although Clem, Graves and Sajonas work with all 23 sports at UVA, they don’t specialize. It’s important that every team member be able to handle every part of the job for every sport. Although different sports have different equivalencies for NCAA (full scholarships, partial scholarships, or no scholarships), Clem, Graves, and Sajonas are prepared to handle all of the details, as well as questions from coaches, students, and parents.

“We have to know about various graduate and undergraduate financial aid and what’s countable and what’s not countable aid against the individual and team limits,” says Sajonas.

“We’re always learning, too – but always, our aim is to get the financial piece cleared up so the students can focus on academics and competing. They shouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay their bill,” says Clem.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Reconciliation Schedule Change: All schools and units now have 30 days to reconcile projects

Starting with November’s reconciliations, all schools and units will have 30 days to reconcile their projects (expenditure and revenue).

You’ve been asking for a different timeframe, and we listened! Already, about 65% of the active projects in Recon@ have an approved alternate reconciliation schedule (due 30 days after month-end close). Changing the deadline for everyone will eliminate the need for such special requests. It will also reduce administrative burden, allowing more time to complete reconciliations and eliminating the need to submit official paperwork to have their deadlines changed.

For a bit of background, the current deadline of the 15th calendar day was chosen when reconciliations were done on paper and a tighter deadline helped prevent fraud. Now that we have systems such as Recon@ and ExpenseUVA, the quick turnaround time is not as crucial.

This policy update means that monthly reconciliations will be due 30 days after month-end close for the previous month’s activity (i.e. November reconciliations will be due December 30th). If your unit prefers to reconcile within 15 days because you have a process in place, that is fine.

View the new policy here. (Note: Procedures linked within the policy have not yet been updated to reflect the change.)

Click here for more information on Recon@ system generated emails.

Questions? Concerns? Please let us know; we’re happy to help. Email

Procurement & Supplier Diversity Services: Office space renovation ahead

New ductwork and office space reconfiguration will require staff in Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services to temporarily relocate mid-December through mid-February. Most PSDS staff will be working from locations off Grounds, while some staff will remain in Carruthers Hall in temporary spaces.

Day to day interactions with PSDS will remain largely unaffected; even though staff will physically be relocated, current email and phone numbers will stay the same. Staff working off-site will have regularly scheduled on-Grounds days, but in person meeting opportunities may be fewer. This is a good opportunity to take advantage of Skype for Business if you haven’t already!

If you have specific questions about how this process may impact your interactions with PSDS, please contact Lori Ponton.

New from ResearchUVA

ResearchUVA Interest at State Higher Ed Conference

ResearchUVA's senior leads, Chris DiVita and Vonda Durrer, were in Richmond on October 19 to showcase the system at a statewide conference on Innovation in Higher Education. ResearchUVA sparked a lot of interest from event attendees on a variety of topics, including why UVA decided to build a system in-house rather than purchase an out-of-the-box solution.  

Learn more about what people were interested in hearing about ResearchUVA here.  

Click the image to view the ResearchUVA team's poster
from Richmond.

ResearchUVA: Extract Intelligence from ResearchUVA using Juice

On October 30, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) launched Juice, ResearchUVA's data analytics and visualization platform, developed to give the UVA community up-to-date insight and facilitate data-driven decision-making in UVA’s research enterprise. Data is indispensable when it comes to developing research strategy and making investments, at the same time as being critical to achieving research compliance and mitigating risk. Training sessions are scheduled for November, and OSP recommends spending time reviewing the Using Juice information as well as the FAQs so users are able to extract accurate information from the app.

Learn more here

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Annual UVAFinance Food Drive: Making Thanksgiving brighter for Charlottesville-Albemarle area

Thanks to the generosity of the teams in Carruthers Hall, Fontaine, and O’Neil Hall, 27 bags of groceries and $520 will be contributed to the Community Feast Project. These donations will be delivered to needy families in our area this weekend.

Thank you to everyone who donated, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

UVAFinance Salutes our Veterans

In honor of Veteran’s Day, UVAFinance recognizes our teammates who have served our country. We are proud to call you our colleague.

Attention UVAFinance: It’s time to mingle and jingle!

It's that time again:  Mark your calendar!
Please make plans to join your colleagues at the annual UVAFinance Holiday Party! Held this year on December 20, from 2-4:30 pm at Alumni Hall, the gathering will feature great food, fun activities, and lots of prizes (just like last year, only even better and more fun!). 

We will also hold the Gingerbread Contest again this year – watch for more information on that a couple of weeks before the event.

Questions? Contact the Employee Engagement Committee at

See pictures from last year’s event. Doesn’t this look like fun? Don’t miss it!