Liaisons to Partner With Faculty to Offer Solutions, Support
When UC Merced faculty members participated in last spring’s Visioning and Change Alignment Summits, many provided feedback that cited a critical need for staff support with a variety of administrative tasks needed to help them successfully accomplish their research and teaching missions.
Systems that worked during the campus’s earlier years, when its population was smaller, were becoming inefficient and cumbersome, they said.
The challenge, according to Vice Provost for the Faculty Gregg Camfield: “We have systems that are overly complicated and have too many hand offs from one group to another. We have been unable to come together to understand how our processes should work from beginning to end.”
After having many conversations with faculty members about their challenges, help is on the way. Chancellor Dorothy Leland authorized a new role, the faculty liaison, to bridge between faculty and staff. They will help faculty members navigate their range of needs through our current processes while at the same time working with other staff to improve those processes.
The liaisons, Kristen Wanderlich and Ehsan Choudhry, officially started their new roles March 28. The original plan was to hire one liaison, but Leland agreed to fund two positions in order to expedite improvements. Wanderlich joined the campus in January as a temporary employee and Choudhry was part of the Administrative Coordination Team (ACT) prior to his current appointment.
“In our applicant pool we found two excellent candidates with complementary skill sets,” Camfield said. “Ehsan knows our systems and Kristen comes from the University of Colorado, Boulder, so we have both the insider and outsider perspective.”
Wanderlich and Choudhry will partner with UC Merced’s Senate and non-Senate faculty members to assist with a host of services that range from procurement and travel and entertainment needs, to events planning and clerical support. Moreover, they will be responsible for gauging the pulse of how complex processes are and how the university might be able to clarify and standardize them so they’re much easier to handle.
“Every faculty member on this campus is crucial to our mission. We want them to be able to focus on their jobs, not on the support services they need to get their jobs done,” Camfield said.
Opportunities for Deep Collaboration
The faculty liaison positions will also allow deep collaboration with staff members who echoed similar sentiments about process improvements during the Vision and Change Alignment summit meetings held last April.
“Our dedicated staff wants to deliver the best service that they can,” Camfield said. “The liaisons will be in an excellent position to give feedback on what is and is not working.”
Wanderlich and Choudhry are already meeting with faculty members who’ve reached out to them.
“We want faculty members to talk to these two about what their concerns are,” Camfield said. “We need to hear what the problems are now.”
Faculty members can contact Wanderlich and Choudhry at email@example.com .