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An Update Regarding the Senior Leadership Team

March 14, 2018

Dear Campus Community,

As you are well aware, UC Merced has been engaged in a three-year effort to strategically align its future workforce needs with its financial capabilities. Through a rigorous planning process, the campus is identifying opportunities for greater efficiencies in order to advance its other workforce priorities, including the operational needs of a dramatically expanding campus. The goal of the initiative is to achieve significant cost savings through new business processes, the use of technology and the consolidation of administrative functions. 

Today I write to inform you of next steps in the workforce planning process: a new organizational model in the non-academic areas of the university, which I firmly believe will provide greater coordination and yield improvements in service delivery, while at the same time allowing us to repurpose very limited resources to provide support in several critical function areas. 

The vice chancellor vacancies in Business and Administrative Services, Planning and Budget, and Development and Alumni Relations have given me an opportunity to think about a more strategic approach to our organization, by function, that will support student and academic affairs in much more efficient and effective ways. Earlier this academic year, we announced the consolidation of our development and alumni relations functions with public relations and government relations into a new Office of External Relations to help advance our advocacy and fundraising efforts. These once disparate units are now working together to enhance our reputation, identify new revenue opportunities, provide stronger support to signature programs, and help strengthen our public affairs activities. This was consistent with the new organizational model recommended by our Workforce Planning workgroups as a strategy to improve our effectiveness and efficiency.

Another example of this model would be to place all administrative and budget functions — including accounting, procurement, human resources and business services — together in a combined unit that will lead to streamlined processes and a new approach to managing our auxiliary services. 

Similarly, I think consolidating functions related to the overall safety of our campus — including emergency management, fire and building safety, public safety, and environmental health — with physical operations will provide certain efficiencies and foster greater collaboration and synergy.

Most important, by consolidating our administrative functions and organizing our work in this way, we are able to realize significant salary savings of nearly $1 million. These funds will be reinvested to fulfill critical needs in environmental health and safety, emergency management, security, and custodial support. This restructuring will also redirect resources to auxiliary services and donor relations, supporting important revenue-generating activities.

Accordingly, I am excited to announce several significant changes in the structure of my Senior Leadership Team and the roles and responsibilities of several key members of the administration: 

I am appointing Veronica Mendez as Chief Financial and Administrative Officer. Veronica has been serving as Interim Vice Chancellor for Planning and Budget since Feb. 1, 2017. In addition to her responsibilities over business, finance and institutional research, Veronica will now also oversee administrative services and our auxiliaries in a new, shared governance model with Student Affairs and Facilities that will include the Early Childhood Education Center, transportation and parking, housing and dining, and campus stores.

Brian Powell, currently serving as Interim Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services, will return to his role as Chief Human Resources Officer, with an expanded portfolio that includes Human Resources, the Administrative Coordination Team (ACT), and Business and Finance Strategic Initiatives. Reporting to Veronica, Brian will also continue to play a leadership role in the implementation of strategic initiatives like UCPath and workforce planning.

Michael McLeod, Associate Vice Chancellor for Physical Operations, Planning and Development, will continue to report directly to me, given his critical role as owner representative and building official for the Merced 2020 Project. He will also continue to oversee facilities management, energy, real estate planning, space planning, sustainability, and fire and building safety, and will now manage additional campus safety functions including police and public safety, and environmental health and safety. His title will be Chief Facilities and Campus Operations Officer.

Ed Klotzbier, who has served as Associate Chancellor and Chief of Staff, will continue to lead all of UC Merced’s external facing activities as Chief External Relations Officer in the newly formed Office of External Relations, which includes Alumni Relations, Public Relations, Protocol and Special Events, Philanthropic and Strategic Partnerships, and Government and Community Relations. Ed will continue to represent me on such institutional matters as enrollment strategies, space planning, auxiliaries and other revenue-generating activities, and serve as my advisor on the 2020 Project Board. 

Luanna Putney, Associate Chancellor and Senior Advisor, who oversees the Office of Campus Climate and Compliance, will serve as our campus liaison to the UC Office of the President and assist me with cabinet affairs, Academic Senate, Leadership Council and other important committees charged by me. She will also now manage Risk Services. Elisabeth Gunther, Chief Campus Counsel, will now oversee Records Management.

Please join me in congratulating Veronica, Mike and Ed on their new leadership positions, and Brian, Luanna and Elisabeth on their expanded roles.

Dorothy Leland

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