A message from Interim Vice Chancellor Michael Reese regarding Business and Financial Services

July 9, 2013


I am pleased and excited to announce a new interim structure for Business and Financial Services (BFS), which was informed by an independent organizational review that studied both the current organization and its processes as well as ways to improve customer service over the longer term.

Effective Aug. 19, 2014, Michael R. Riley, currently director of Corporate Accounting and Endowment Investment Accounting at the Office of the President, will assume responsibilities as interim controller of UC Merced. Mike has broad experience in all aspects of accounting, financial analysis and financial reporting and will bring to BFS a fresh perspective and new approaches gained from his experience both at UC and in the private sector. A nationwide search for a permanent campus controller will commence immediately.

In the meantime, Kathy Eftekhari, currently a consultant for the Center of Operations Excellence at the Office of the President, will continue to serve as an organizational consultant reporting directly to me and working in tandem with Mike to facilitate team building, define roles and responsibilities, and improve communication with a customer focus emphasis. I have also asked her to produce a final analysis that will inform a long term structure for BFS for consideration by the chancellor and the permanent vice chancellor. In the meantime, Mike will oversee a department that has been restructured to provide clearer focus on and delineation of its central functions – policy, accountability and controls and customer service. The organizational review found that under the previous structure, these two functions had become blurred; in other words, the focus on controls tended to shortchange customer service. Controls are critical but so is customer service, especially to a still young but fast-growing campus.

  • Therefore, the new organization will be structured to provide separate but equal focus on these two areas:
  • Policy, Accountability and Controls will be headed by Sheryl Ireland, whose director title will be expanded to “business partner” to better reflect the appropriate relationship between BFS and the units, departments and schools. Her scope will include Risk Services and Tax, Controls, Financial Reporting, Costing and Policy Analysis.

The customer service units will include Accounting, whose business partner will be Director Kim Groesbeck; and Business Services, whose business partner will be Director Cindi Deegan. Cindi’s purview, which now includes Purchasing, Real Estate and Contracts,will be expanded to include Student Services and Payroll Services. I am confident that this leadership team can be successful in repositioning BFS. The effort has the advantage of a BFS staff that the organizational review team described to me as highly committed and passionate about UC Merced, with a real eagerness for innovation and change. Through these changes and their efforts, I am convinced that we can establish UC Merced as a recognized innovator and entrepreneur in its delivery of business and administrative services. The review recommended a number of other organizational changes that I am approving with the support of Chancellor Leland:

  • Administrative Computing Systems, under Director Yaheya Quazi, will report directly to me for the time being, but will be consolidated into a single Information Technology unit once a chief information officer has been named.
  • Contracts and Grants, under the leadership of Director Autumn Tjalsma, will be transferred to the Division of Research, effective immediately.
  • The Gift and Endowment Accounting function will be moved from BFS to Development and Alumni Relations.

I am confident these moves can be achieved both to improve the efficiency of the functions while also maintaining effective accountability and controls. Looking ahead, the organizational review process for the Division of Business and Administrative Services will continue, now with a focus on Human Resources. My goal in this review is the same as it was with BFS: to study the current organization and processes, and provide by early fall recommendations on ways to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.

These efforts are consistent with the goals I outlined for you upon my arrival as interim vice chancellor: to begin a process, to be completed by the next vice chancellor, of providing UC Merced with the business and administrative services structure it needs to meet its rapidly changing size and complexity. I will keep you informed in the months ahead about our continuing progress.

Best regards,

Michael Reese
Interim Vice Chancellor Division of Business and Administrative Services