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From Strategic Vision To Administrative Action

Vice Chancellor Updates Staff on Plans To Improve Campus Administratively

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted February 23, 2000

Berkeley may be rated number one academically, but administratively, our reputation is somewhat lower, Horace Mitchell, vice chancellor for business and administrative services, told staff at a Feb. 15 brown-bag discussion in the Lipman Room at Barrows Hall.

But Mitchell and his team are working to turn that around, he said, and regain ground that was lost during the budget crisis of the early 1990s.

"Staff and administration bore the brunt of these cuts," said Mitchell. "But now it's time to rebuild that infrastructure."

Improving compensation packages and streamlining reclassifications are part of Mitchell's efforts to restore staffing to its previous levels.

"We don't want to let the budget drive decisions on hiring and reclassifications," he said. "To be the employer of choice, we have to keep pace with the marketplace."

Mitchell outlined several other strategies and initiatives his office has developed to facilitate administrative restructuring.

Chief among them is improving customer service. Mitchell has created a task force to survey current customer service efforts and gather information on what aspects of service are most important to customers. Representatives from the Haas School of Business and Nordstrom are providing advice on this issue.

"This survey is the key," said Mitchell. "We plan to use it as the basis for changes that make it easier for our customers to get what they need from us and will establish measures and standards for how well we are doing."

Increasing communication is another priority. Progress in this area, said Mitchell, includes posting administrative policies, procedures and delegations of authority online; developing a new human resources newsletter for faculty and staff; and sending administrative memos via e-mail to two contacts in each department -- the department head and their designee -- instead of by mail to just one person.

"It came to our attention that not everyone was receiving the information in the memos," said Mitchell. "E-mailing them to two people in each unit will help the information filter down through the system."

Mitchell also mentioned the creation of an e-commerce site that will enable the campus to purchase products and services online, such as housing and dining contracts for students and parking passes for faculty and staff.

A large portion of the discussion was devoted to the Berkeley Financial System. While Mitchell admitted the implementation process has been more difficult than anticipated, he said our expenditure of time and money is average compared to other universities who are switching over to this system.

When Alison McGill, assistant vice chancellor for financial and business services and coordinator of the conversion, left the campus last December, Mitchell invited Jim Hyatt, vice chancellor for resource planning and budget, to co-lead the project with him to keep it on track for July 1 implementation of the general ledger, new chart of accounts and budget modules.

"We have also called in consultants from other UC campuses and a private company to provide advice to ensure implementation moves smoothly," said Mitchell. "The project team and campus users have spent innumerable hours to make this work. However, it will take continued diligence for us to succeed."

The purchasing and disbursement process is another campus concern, said Mitchell. The disbursements office is processing 6,250 items per week. Staff have been added to reduce the backlog in payments and the overtime hours that staff have been working.

This discussion is one of several Mitchell has planned to keep the campus updated on administrative improvements and enhancements. On March 16, Assistant Vice Chancellor Sandra Haire will meet with staff to discuss her vision for human resources. The location and time will be announced. Mitchell will meet again with staff later this spring.



February 23-29, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 23)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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