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April 17, 2020

Dear Members of Business and Finance,

While people are starting to adjust to life amid coronavirus shutdowns and social distancing, they are also finding ways to redirect their coronavirus mindset. Nationally and globally, we've seen companies do this by shifting their business operations to help with shortages caused by this pandemic. I'm proud to say that I've seen similar refocusing and shifting within our Business and Finance team. It's been heartwarming and inspiring to hear stories of the creativity you've demonstrated through these trying times.

When we began working remotely, many of us approached it as a challenge, but it did not take long for us to shift our perspective and turn this challenge into an opportunity. Whether it was embracing remote work, adjusting schedules, drafting new and innovative policies or thinking of new ways to secure buildings—there are just so many examples. This week, I want to update you on how we have been embracing these opportunities across Business and Finance.

In the fall, UMIT underwent "Customer First" training, and less than six months later, the team was faced with the opportunity to put everything they learned into hyperdrive and have been striving to provide the greatest level of support to the UM community. The UMIT team has been indispensable in helping us embrace our "virtual reality," and survey results prove it. Satisfaction surveys conducted over the past month revealed that 96 percent of those surveyed were satisfied/very satisfied with their overall service experience; and 98 percent were satisfied/very satisfied with the UMIT member's courtesy and professionalism. Under normal circumstances, these types of results are no easy feat, yet the UMIT team is getting it done during a pandemic!

Another team exceeding expectations is our Internal Audit and Compliance teams. The team monitoring the University Hotline reports has been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week overseeing all the University Hotline reports and triaging cases dealing with various COVID-19 related issues.

Campus may feel deserted, but the men and women of UMPD are still on the job. To help protect our police officers' health, and in keeping with social distancing efforts, the department continues working a modified schedule rotating between home and campus every two weeks and working 12-hour shifts. Officers are even taking phone reports and handling other investigative matters from home. Roll call still happens—outdoors, masks on, everyone six feet apart from each other—after a temperature check and health screening from our colleagues at Lennar.

And, thank you to Officers Ray Shipman, Jeff Young, Willie Jones, and Lt. Ben Hedrick who recently assisted a veteran in need of transportation from the Lennar screening station to a local hospital.

While students are learning remotely and most University employees are working from home, many team members from our Facilities Operations and Planning team have been on campus maintaining it. In order to ensure safety for our students, faculty, and staff—and in preparation for telecommuting—the Access Control team worked to draft a temporary COVID-19 access policy. These processes were rapidly put in place in the 135 buildings across our 270-acre Gables campus. Utilizing both online and manual methods, this team secures buildings not in use and restricts access to encourage social distancing while still allowing access to those that support our online teaching initiative and critical campus operations.

Today's highlight of gratitude for our Human Resources team extends to our HR Client Services team members who are working tirelessly to support frontline clinical and health care workers on the medical campus, and with University staff on the Gables and Marine campuses. Acting as HR first responders in this crisis, they have guided managers through a web of new policies, helped navigate the complexities of a virtual workspace, and have been a source of comfort for many employees experiencing anxiety or personal loss resulting from COVID-19. Their duties can be challenging under normal circumstances, and during this time, they have shown compassion and resilience that deserves our applause.

The Financial Affairs team celebrated 'Canes Central going 'live' last Tuesday, and has received more than 500 student inquiries! The team is doing a phenomenal job answering students' questions, and the feedback from surveys show a 100 percent satisfaction score and 10 Net Promoter Score. Here are some other incredible statistics (keep in mind... most of this is done remotely!)

  • Student Accounts posted 20,158 credit prorations to students as a result of the campus closure related to Housing, Dining, and Parking transactions, generating 11,825 net refunds to our students.

  • The Student Accounts Check Distribution team mailed 8,069 student refund checks in addition to the usual volume related to accounts payable vendor checks, disbursements, and service they provide for the medical campus related to patient billing refunds.

  • The Student Accounts Cashiering team has been working remotely, as well as working in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During this time, they have been providing service to the University Community and various departments.

  • Our Operations team has continued processing mail, wire transfers, and student payments to ensure timely processing of deposits. They have coordinated with the University's outside vendors such as Garda and USPS to collaborate and to communicate various changes as they occur, and to ensure we continue to function in a unified manner—at a time when things have been uncertain.

  • During the past month, the Purchasing team has processed 4,658 requisitions with an average cycle time of 3.5 days for orders under $10K and 7.5 days for orders over $10K. They are working closely with the Office of Emergency Management to provide the needed commodities including personal protective equipment, hand and surface sanitizers, medical supplies, research, and technology. In addition, they have on-boarded 224 suppliers with an average cycle time of four days. In preparation for year-end activities and deadlines, they have created and sent out FAQs and video tutorials on "how to" close out purchase orders and create change orders to replace in person classroom training.

  • Our talented Accounts Payable team has swiftly adjusted. The team adapted to using a cloud based Onbase application instead of the friendlier desktop version for the invoices' workflow. The team has continued to process a high volume of transactions even while working remotely. They have processed a total of 11,497, compared with 11,727 processed in February. They have also processed them faster, in just two days compared to 2.5 days in February.

  • The Expense Reports average cycle time in Disbursements went from six days in February to just under four days in March. Additionally, the Disbursements team was trained remotely to assist with processing invoices as we ramp up and prepare for fiscal year end.

This situation has tested many aspects of our operational efficiencies and teamwork, however these teams continue to promote and achieve service excellence.

I keep telling you each week how very proud I am of our entire Business and Finance team. I hope you're not getting sick of hearing it, but it's truly how I feel. We've come together in the midst of an unprecedented and extremely difficult situation, and we are thriving. We've turned challenges into opportunities, becoming more efficient, and embracing teamwork.

Thank you for doing all that you do on behalf of the University we love.

Always my best,


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