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March 26, 2020

Dear Members of Business and Finance,

During these abnormal "new normal" circumstances, I keep hearing about the amazing work each and every one of you is doing, work that exemplifies administrative excellence. Change is a constant these days, yet you strive every day to bring excellence to your work. It just makes me so proud, and thought I would use this message to showcase the Business and Finance departments' commitment to administrative excellence and their commitment to continually do and give their best.

The Facilities Operations and Planning team continues to focus on returning to "normal" business. While adjustments are made as needed, the team does not compromise administrative excellence. Last week, I shared how the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) transitioned to a virtual workspace in order to promote social distancing. Just as a physical EOC encourages teamwork and information sharing through co-location, the virtual EOC serves as a central online source for coordination of COVID-19 related requests and recommendations for information and action. Virtual EOC representatives consist of 53 individuals from 25 units that are directly engaged in EOC operations. These representatives meet virtually three times each day to share information and updates on actions being taken. Representatives utilize a variety of collaborative technologies to proactively anticipate future needs of the community throughout the transition to remote operations and the return to normal operations, provide situational awareness to University leadership and key partners, and rapidly respond to requests for information, assets, and resources and they are doing an outstanding job!

UMIT has been collaboratively working with departments across campus reassuring the continuity of business operations and connectivity. They have daily interlock Zoom meetings with the IT Leadership Council, which consists of members from all the schools and colleges, and all the major administrative functions of the University, along with UMIT leadership. In these meetings they review any technology-related issues resulting from the rapid on-site to on-line university transition. I hope everyone heard the shout-out President Frenk gave UMIT in his video to the community on Monday.

In Audit and Advisory Services, the team that triages cases received through the University Hotline, are assessing cases seven days a week, 24 hours a day, remotely!

UMPD and surrounding police departments—Coral Gables PD, Miami-Dade County PD, and City of Miami PD—recently teamed up to investigate a suspicious package found on campus. After a thorough investigation involving bomb techs and X-ray images, they concluded the contents of the box were non-threatening. Thank you UMPD for your continued vigilance and thank you to all the police departments and the Coral Gables Fire Department for coming together to keep our campus safe.

To support faculty and staff during these challenging and unpredictable times, our Human Resources team has been working relentlessly addressing questions and concerns. Here are a few bullets on their tremendous work for you and the U:

  • HR has drafted and communicated temporary policies in effect through April 17 that outline pay continuity provisions for those affected by COVID-19, suspended parking and transit payroll deductions, and enhanced sick pay options. These updates also include guidance on telecommuting from home and are outlined in the FAQs.

  • In short notice, the Talent and Organizational Development Team (TOD) was able to migrate the new hire orientations this past Monday—I am the U (Day 1) and We Care (UHealth/MSOM's Day 2) completely online. 131 of our newest 'Canes who started Monday rated their overall experience 98.41% strongly agreed/agreed satisfaction.

  • The Enterprise Business Solutions team, working with HR and Finance teams, have adapted Workday and Kronos to support temporary policy changes that ensures proper timekeeping functions for all our employees and supports financial reporting.

  • The Payroll team has provided a temporary pay practice COVID-19 time-tracking guide and will send targeted communicates to timekeepers, supervisors and employees according to their timekeeping system and benefits.

  • HR partnered with Facilities to enhance cleaning and ensure Canterbury Child Care Centers on Gables and Medical campuses remain open for faculty and staff who continue to work in critical operations. HR has also partnered with UM Government Relations and UHealth Communications to offer full-day programming for children of clinical and patient support staff being offered through Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the YMCA to Jackson employees.

  • Lastly, but most importantly, caring for our employees also means supporting their families. The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program is offering virtual services to those feeling anxious or in need of support. In partnership with HR communications, FSAP created a tip sheet for managing stressors with calming strategies. Please do not hesitate to use these services.

Risk Management, in conjunction with Financial Affairs is leading the charge in assessing how much of our unanticipated expenses and revenue losses will be recovered by FEMA and insurance. This is very important. As you can imagine, our tally is up into the millions and growing by the day. Our Financial Planning and Budget Office has been working nearly around the clock to prepare for a special Finance Committee meeting of the Board on April 3, where the impact of COVID-19 will be reviewed and plans to mitigate this impact will be recommended. And our Controller's Office team is keeping our bills paid and on time while nearly all staff is working remotely!

Virtual teamwork is also happening at the highest levels of university leadership. This week, President Frenk called a meeting with senior leaders via Zoom that I was a part of, and last week I participated in the University's Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, also via Zoom. I have also held critical meetings regarding budget and finance using the tool, and though it's not the same as face-to-face, it has been effective.

I want to conclude by sharing an excerpt from a message Hilarie Bass, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, sent to the University's full board on Monday, March 23.

"The Board of Trustees has much to be thankful for given the tireless efforts of University leadership and their dedicated and enthusiastic teams, who have worked around the clock to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff remain healthy, can complete the spring semester, and that our medical staff continues to provide exceptional medical support to our community. I hope you will join me in expressing your gratitude to our entire leadership and administrative team—they are tackling formidable challenges at breakneck speeds. We will get through this together."

Together we will flatten the curve, and together we will bring our campus back to normal operations when the time is right. As each day passes, I am more and more grateful to your commitment to continually do and give your best. Thank you for the hard work, resilience, and teamwork you have all demonstrated during these past few weeks.


Always my best,


Jacqueline A. Travisano, Ed.D.
Executive Vice President for Business and Finance & Chief Operating Officer