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September 27, 2021

Dear Members of the Division of Business and Finance,

Well into our second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to adapt to circumstances and find innovative ways to problem-solve. THANK YOU! The development of widely available and highly effective vaccines has provided a sense of hope for resuming pre-COVID operations in the future. Although the Delta variant unexpectedly set us back, we pulled together as ‘Canes and once again welcomed students back to campus this fall. I am especially grateful to report that we are nearing 100% compliance on the Coral Gables and Marine campuses with our employee COVID-19 vaccine requirements and thank you again for your support of this important initiative. With a few weeks of this semester in the books, I wanted to take a moment and recognize a few of our outstanding accomplishments.

Fall 2021 Campus Reopening

  • Facilities Operations and Planning (FOP) ensured that safety protocols were implemented in our classrooms, residential, and administrative buildings, and that signage and hand sanitizers were visibly displayed. The Foote Green was re-sodded this summer in anticipation of our fall opening and is a point of pride on campus. In partnership with Florida Power and Light (FPL), the University executed its SolarTogether agreement in anticipation of UM being carbon neutral by 2025.
  • The Financial Affairs ‘Canes Central team was onsite greeting more than 3,000 students, responding to over 9,700 calls and handling 6,300 virtual cases, supporting the front-of-the-house operations for the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Student Accounts—as well as student 'Cane Card operations. Congratulations to the team for achieving a 95% customer satisfaction rating and a 9.4 NPS score! Financial Affairs also brought new external auditors on board for FY21, KPMG a national public accounting firm, and I thank everyone who contributed to this major endeavor!
  • The Information Technology (UMIT) team distributed AV technologies (webcams and microphones) to school-based IT directors and provided training support to over 570 faculty.
  • Showing compassion and concern for our colleagues, HR’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) offered virtual wellness offerings to provide coping and support systems for well-being, mental health, and caregiving.
  • Human Resources updated the COVID-19 Preventive Measures (previously Return to Onsite Work) policy to include a requirement that all employees comply with COVID-19 vaccine requirements and managed the tracking and compliance aspects with the help of UMIT and Enterprise Business Solutions (EBS). The flu campaign has recently been launched and will be similarly tracked for compliance on all campuses.
  • UMPD greeted our students as they returned to campus while continuing to ensure that safety protocols are understood and applied.
  • The Internal Audit and Compliance team assisted in the University’s transition to new external auditors, KPMG, providing over 500 hours of audit assistance.
  • Auxiliary Services welcomed over 5,200 residential students this fall and transformed both resident and retail dining locations back to full capacity. While adhering to campus standards for distancing and use of masks while indoors, the UM Dining team was able to return to full service, dine-in seating, and self-service.

Financial Stability

  • The prudent cost mitigation measures proactively implemented during the pandemic, combined with significant funding from the federal government from the CARES Act, investment returns, and the continued strong philanthropic support from our donors contributed to positive financial operating results for FY21. As a result, the University was able to reinstate 403 (b) contributions earlier than anticipated and implement a merit pool to recognize your many contributions.
  • The University of Miami’s Growth Pool (GP), primarily represented by the endowment, finished fiscal year 2021 with a market value of $1.42 billion, an increase of $355 million or 33.6% over fiscal 2020. For the year, the GP achieved a net investment return of 33.6%, the highest return in University recorded history. Over the past five years, the GP has grown by $565 million, or 69.6%. Thank you to our Investments Committee of the Board of Trustees and the Investments/Treasury team in Financial Affairs for their oversight of our GP and working capital.

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Financial Affairs supports economic inclusion through procurement policies, engagement and bidding opportunities with minority business enterprises and minority focused organizations through the University’s Supplier Diversity Program. The team focused heavily on recruitment, participated in three key events, developed a fabulous video, and a robust dashboard to track Workday spend and other key supplier information.
  • To raise awareness and build skills on the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion, HR offers a series of training programs. Some impressive statistics are as follows:
    • Managing Bias and Diversity and Inclusion in the Modern Workplace: both online modules have been completed by close to 7,500 employees.
    • Title IX training reached 3,129 new hires and existing employees since the start of the year.
    • Virtual Diversity Interactive Theatre:
      • 423 leaders and staff on the Gables/Marine campuses participated in nine sessions.
      • Faculty Affairs and HR launched customized Interactive Theatre sessions for faculty based on input from students and faculty.
    • Racial Inclusivity two-hour training: five sessions held for 463 employees.
    • On, February 23, 2021, HR hosted Black History Month’s “Leadership Insights” panel at which 280 faculty and staff members attended, and in March the “Visionary Women: COVID-19 and Work-Life Integration” panel in honor of Women’s History Month.

Administrative Excellence & Innovation

  • The University of Miami has been ranked on the 2021 Forbes list of America’s Best Employers, which is based on independent surveys of employees.
  • The University of Miami was recognized in Indeed’s List of Most Inclusive Companies Hiring Now.
  • Lakeside Village, the 12-acre student housing complex, was recently one of the recipients of the coveted International Architecture Awards.
  • The City of Coral Gables also presented the University with a Platinum Green Business Certification (so far, the only business in Coral Gables to earn platinum-level recognition).
  • The Audit and Advisory Services team completed enhancements to the Pentana system used to monitor open audit recommendations, automating the management response process and ensuring timeliness.
  • The University Compliance Services team created a public site for student-related policies ( This is a separate site from the University/Academy policy platform site, which allows students to view only student-related policies.
  • HR favorability ratings is at 98% for its series of 351 leadership and professional development webinars with over 15,730 participants since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • The first cohort of a new marquee leadership development experience (LEAD) for mid to senior-level leaders, graduated 26 leaders in June 2021 and will welcome the second cohort this fall.
  • B&F team members came together virtually in the spring to honor those who dedicated five or more years of service to growing and shaping the University of Miami at the Division of Business & Finance Milestone Anniversary Awards. Human Resources also launched the first University-wide Long Service Award Ceremony, held virtually across all campuses. Learn more.

Looking Ahead

  • Workplace of the Future: The B&F leadership team spearheaded the design of an optimal workplace model for the future, blending lessons learned from working 100% remote during the pandemic with our mission to have a vibrant on-campus presence. A Managers’ Toolkit for Hybrid Work was distributed in the summer and included a new policy, guidance on how to define appropriate remote work designations, and tips and training links for successfully leading a hybrid work environment. While the pilot program to return staff to campus in a new hybrid model has been postponed as a result of the Delta variant, we are prepared to launch when the timing is right and will evaluate the outcomes over an academic year.
  • Robotic Process Automation – Financial Affairs’ Enterprise Business Solutions team (EBS) started a journey to automate manual intensive processes with a pilot project in Accounts Payable that will promote quality, efficiency, and productivity.
  • Diversity and Inclusion
    • HR is planning to introduce new diversity and inclusion training and programming, including a Diversity Certificate Program and more inclusive gender identifiers in Workday.
    • A Supplier Diversity website and interactive training is being launched to serve as a valuable resource to the University community and diverse suppliers.
  • State of the University with President Frenk - Tuesday, September 28 – I encourage you to participate in the State of the University with President Frenk on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 5:30 p.m. This year’s Town Hall will be a hybrid event, providing the members of the University community the opportunity to attend in person or virtually. Click here to RSVP in person or attend virtually. Note that limited in-person seating is available.

I recognize many of you are anxious to learn when you will be required to return to work on campus and we will communicate this timing as soon as we feel that the timing is appropriate. Please know I understand the demands of working parents, taking care of sick and elderly relatives, and so many other personal challenges brought upon you by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I commit that you will have advanced notice to make plans when the time comes.

Our division has made and is making a significant impact on the operations, financial stability, and student, faculty, and employee experience. I am grateful for your hard work and dedication every day, and for your patience during a time of unprecedented challenges.

Please continue to engage with your fellow team members to foster a culture of belonging regardless of their work modality. Be compassionate. Be kind. Be supportive. Numerous studies have shown that you can increase your own level of engagement by being a friend and/or having friends at work.

Thank you for your amazing contributions and dedication to the U. My number one priority continues to be positively impacting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our University community.

With 'Canes pride,


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