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University Provost defines Shared Services task plans

Virginia Lozano/Daily
University Provost Martha Pollack discusses AST and weather issues with the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) at the Flemming Administration Building Monday. Buy this photo

By Andrew Almani, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 13, 2014

University Provost Martha Pollack joined the Senate Advisory Committee for University Affairs for their first meeting of the year Monday afternoon, discussing issues related to updating different aspects of University policy, as well as plans to continue the search for several new administrators.

Pollack began her presentation by addressing issues surrounding the Shared Services Center under the Administrative Services Transformation, a controversial plan that would relocate 275 departmental staff members to a separate location on State Street.

Pollack said the tasks that will be transferred to the new center have been broken into three groups. The first wave will focus on some accounting operations, the second human will focus on resource tasks and the third will entail the remaining financial operations. These defined groups will allow for more opportunities for staff input, as well as flexibility to address issues individually on a longer timeline.

The implementation of the Shared Services Center has been delayed until the summer — when the first wave will be transferred.

“There has been a lot of work over the past few weeks really, Pollack said. “The program will be moving forward in a delayed fashion, one that provides for significantly more input from faculty and staff.”

Pollack stressed that consultation with affected parties is critically important to the administration. Over the past few months, the transition has received backlash from faculty and students. Over 1,100 faculty members have signed a petition to end the transition in its entirety. However, Coleman vowed that the project would continue, albeit with modifications.

The University chose Thom Madden, the University’s director of sponsored events, to replace Rowan Miranda, associate vice president for finance, as the point person for AST.

At the meeting, Pollack said she is confident that Madden will ensure that faculty’s views are not ignored.

“I’ve been myself quite encouraged by his attitude and tone,” Pollack said. “I think he’s a good listener, I think he really cares about getting this right.”

Before Madden was hired, some University faculty and student groups were concerned there was a conflict of interest involved with Miranda as the project’s chair. Miranda was previously an employee at Accenture, a Chicago-based consulting firm that won an $11.7 million contract to design the transition.

Aside from her update on AST, Pollack addressed the University’s decision to remain open despite the severe weather conditions last week that forced many students to return to campus after the first day of classes.

“By the time it became clear that we were facing an extraordinary weather event, we realized that we didn’t have appropriate mechanisms to close the University even if we wanted to,” Pollack said. “Closing a university is more like closing a city than closing a building. You can’t just close; there is a hospital, there is a police force, there are students on campus who need to be fed.”

Pollack said a committee will be established to address weather and other emergency situations that would require the closure of the University. Pollack requested that a member of SACUA be chosen to join the committee.

“We have a weather policy that has been in place for decades. The last time the University closed was in 1978,” Pollack said. “I believe we need to revisit our policies.”

Pollack also detailed the ongoing creation of four faculty committees designed to address various aspects of the University that need development. The tentative titles of these committees are Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Having Faculty in the 21st century, Financial Models for Higher Education and Engaged Learning and Digital Instruction.

Additionally, searches for new deans of the School of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the School of Pharmacy are still underway.

Initial interviews for both schools have been completed and the second round of selection is underway. There are three internal candidates for the position and between two and four external candidates.

Astronomy Prof. Sally Oey, a SACUA member, inquired about specific characteristics the University was seeking in the new LSA dean. Pollack said the University is looking for someone committed to enhancing the value of a liberal arts education.

“We are looking for an excellent academic with a strong academic record, good administrative and management experience,” Pollack said. “They should be very collaborative, have very good ethical values.”

Pollack said the search to replace Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs, as well as Christina Whitman, vice provost for academic and faculty affairs, will also begin soon.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misstated the name of the overall service reform plan. It is the Administrative Services Transformation, not the Administration Services Transition.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misstated the delay date for the shared services implementation. It will begin this summer.


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