A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

2016 Gearing Up to be a Busy Year

January 19, 2016

Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Michael Reese discusses some of the big changes coming to UC Merced.Welcome to a new year — one in which UC Merced will begin to see the tangible fruits of years of intense planning for 2020 and all it represents for the future of our campus.

With the Board of Regents’ vote in November to approve release of requests for proposals (RFP) to the three international teams vying to develop the next phase of the campus, the 2020 expansion project moved a significant step closer to reality. The unanimous vote was followed by a highly unusual standing ovation by the Regents — a clear expression of support not just for the project but also for the academic aspirations of the system’s youngest campus.

Now that the RFP has been released, the development teams will finalize proposals for submission. The proposals will be evaluated by technical experts and scored by campus stakeholders, including faculty members. By early summer, a final selection will be made by the project’s co-sponsors, Chancellor Dorothy Leland and systemwide Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom.

By mid-year, the campus will get a glimpse of its future.

We will see the design and master plan for new housing, dining, classrooms, laboratories, recreation fields, open space and an aquatics center, and how the new construction will interact with the existing campus.

About the same time, the campus will break ground on the new Downtown Center, which will serve as the anchor of an expanding downtown campus presence and eventually house as many as 400 administrative staff members.

The facility is designed to achieve cost savings as well as more efficient and flexible workspaces, putting UC Merced — as with so many other things — on the cutting edge of UC system practices.

The occupants of this new building will be pioneers, and a rigorous change-management process is now underway to help facilitate their transitions into a new space and new ways of working.

Another tangible outcome of 2016 will be a campuswide exercise to help the campus envision and implement the many other changes underway — from 2020 and Strategic Academic Focusing to performance management and other process improvements.

Building on a successful engagement last year for the School of Engineering, the San Francisco consulting group The Grove will facilitate a process that engages many different campus stakeholders, culminating in a two-day visioning summit open to the entire campus.

Through a unique and highly visual process that has been successfully used by many Silicon Valley companies moving from start-up to maturity, The Grove will distill the many different aspirations across our campus into a single vision. For more information, visit The Grove online.

As we go through the visioning process, we will also work on the Workforce Planning Initiative to ensure that our future workforce aligns with our academic aspirations, physical capacity and — as importantly — our finances.

Phase One, completed last year, represented a good start by identifying campus needs and candidates for cost-savings and functional efficiency. But it also uncovered a misalignment between campus aspirations and its current budget.

Phase Two will correct this misalignment by conducting the planning process in the context of current and projected future budgets.

Through this second phase, we expect to emerge with clarity around campus priorities, where gaps exist in meeting those priorities, and how resources can be realigned to fill the priority gaps. We hope to complete this work by early summer.

All this indicates another busy year, but one that moves us closer to realizing the incredibly exciting future that is UC Merced.

Michael Reese is vice chancellor for the Division of Business and Administrative Services.