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Five team leaders named for business practices improvements

STANFORD -- For the past year, a group of university officials has been setting the stage for a campus-wide project designed to improve the way Stanford conducts business.

They seek to support the academic mission by reducing administrative complexity and improving information systems. They want to eliminate unnecessary work and reduce errors in administrative processes. They hope to make it easier for the university to comply with government rules - without having to add new layers of staff.

And while saving money would be a welcome byproduct, serving campus constituents well is the highest priority.

The project, the Transition to New Business Practices, is the brainchild of Barbara Butterfield, vice president for faculty and staff services; Joanne Coville, controller; David Mendelow, associate vice president of the medical school; Mike Spence, dean of the Graduate School of Business; and Peter Van Etten, chief financial officer.

The project has not been highly visible, Van Etten told a gathering of finance area managers on Monday, Jan. 11, because "the focus is on doing rather than talking."

He told the managers that he recognized that earlier efforts at reorganization for efficiency have left them frustrated.

"You've been through it before," he said. "You've been preached to enough."

Coville, who is coordinating the project and a seven- member steering committee, said in an interview that staff members in both central administration and academic departments "are drowning in work. We've had reductions in staff, but the work never went away."

Earlier efforts failed because they were "top down," Coville said. This initiative is "top down, bottom up and middle to middle," she said.

The time is right, and the community is ready for change, Coville said.

"It seems to be now or never."

5 appointed to lead teams

To that end, Van Etten on Monday announced the appointment of five long-time Stanford employees who will lead teams of staff - and, potentially, faculty - drawn from throughout the university who will study and improve various business practices.

Chosen from 30 candidates, each of the appointees is leaving an existing position to serve in a term appointment on the project. The five are:

  • Suzanne M. Carey, financial analyst in the controller's office.

A 1969 Stanford graduate in political science, Carey joined the staff in 1980 as assistant director of athletics for business and finance. She was a corporate development officer in the Graduate School of Business for three years, and moved to government cost and rate studies in 1984 as a financial analyst.

In 1988, she joined the controller's office, where she most recently led a pilot business practices team that analyzed and generated recommendations on the university property administration process.

  • Kathleen R. Kirchen, director of administration, Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention.

Kirchen, a 1977 graduate in sociology from San Jose State University, has worked as an administrator in the division of general internal medicine and the Heart Disease Prevention Program.

Kirchen has experience with programs involving both teaching and research, as well as patient care, and has participated in campus-wide projects such as the Team for Improving Productivity at Stanford (TIPS).

  • Susan W. Schofield, former associate dean of humanities and sciences.

Schofield, who graduated from Stanford in French in 1966 and was a Fulbright Scholar in France, worked in research administration in her early Stanford career. In 1972, she was named planner analyst in the facilities and properties office, eventually moving up to assistant provost for facilities.

In 1982, Schofield was named associate dean for planning and management in Humanities and Sciences, overseeing a $56 million operating budget and directing human resources for 470 non-academic staff. She also was in charge of facilities and computing.

Since 1989, Schofield has worked on a variety of special assignments, serving as staff to the Action Plans for Change and Repositioning steering committees; Cabinet Committee on Budget and Strategic Planning; and the Provost's Committee on Budget Implementation.

She served as interim business manager for the chemistry department in 1991.

  • Nancy E. Ware, assistant to the vice president for planning and management.

Ware, who majored in human biology at Stanford, worked as student coordinator and later assistant manager at the Faculty Club. She joined planning and management as a human resource assistant in 1987. Beginning in 1989, she worked as assistant to vice provost and later vice president Ray Bacchetti, helping him with a full range of tasks, including the work of the University Committee on Minority Issues.

Ware managed Bacchetti's office, including investigating and implementing improvements to office computing and equipment systems.

  • Judith D. Yarborough, assistant controller in financial information systems.

A 1967 graduate in communication from Stanford, Yarborough joined the staff in 1971. She has worked in the Institute for Communication Research and the School of Education. She served as manager of library user services and later as assistant director of projects and planning at the Research Libraries Group. In 1980- 81, Yarborough took a position as a business planner and analyst at Raychem Corp. in Menlo Park.

She then returned to Stanford, working on design of the financial segment of the student information data base and later serving as assistant director of the project. She also served as assistant director in Administrative Information Services.

Wide perspectives

Coville said the five women "bring perspectives of schools, departments, research, accounting and information systems to the initiative.

"Most importantly," she said, "they are all perceived to be leaders capable of organizing teams, soliciting campus-wide input and implementing recommendations that truly serve Stanford - reducing administrative burden by streamlining processes and eliminating unnecessary work."

The team leaders will start their new jobs on Feb. 1. High on the priority list will be identifying and recruiting staff members who will spend approximately 10 percent of their time helping study the initial round of five business practices. These staff members will be chosen from a list of 194 suggested by central administrators and academic administrators in December.

Each project leader will take on one of these five groups. Assignments have not yet been made, but the first five groupings of business practices are:

  • The research administration process (including the pre- and post-award processes)
  • Accounting for tracking paid time off
  • Payments for goods and services (accounts payable and travel)
  • Policy formulation and communication
  • Design and implementation of a general ledger and chart of accounts.

In addition to Coville, members of the business practices steering committee are Ken Down, engineering; Anne Gaddy, education; Susan Keep, medicine; Fred Bentley, sponsored projects; Reed Brimhall, government cost and rate studies; and Glen Mueller, internal audit. The committee is staffed by Frank Topper.



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