Campus Departments Seek New Ways to Improve Business and Research

Organizational Excellence initiatives increase outcomes and allow for smarter spending

A number of departments across campus have combined their efforts and resources to build a new system aimed at saving money, and improving research and business practices.

The campus community learned details about this realignment at UC Riverside’s second-annual Organizational Excellence Showcase Event on April 30. Organizational Excellence, or OE, is a grassroots initiative that seeks to create a culture that enables and inspires all members of the UCR community to collaborate and innovate.

The event’s purpose was to showcase the efforts of campus units in improving their business processes. A total of seven units participated, each presenting their own initiatives through demonstrations, visual presentations, and participant-based activities.

For example, the nine Child Studies research laboratories within UCR’s Department of Psychology are taking part and looking for ways to improve operations.

Carole Meyer-Rieth, recruitment coordinator for the Child Studies labs, spoke at the event about the experience of streamlining and centralizing activities across all nine groups. Previously, the labs did not have consistent recruitment procedures and the responsibility for coordinating events fell primarily on graduate students. The new collaborative approach involving faculty, staff, and students has streamlined several areas, including the research-subject recruitment process, as well as event coordination, data input, and consolidation of supply purchases.

John Franchak, an assistant professor of psychology, said the standardized processes have made it easier to get the word out about the labs’ work. They’re also “spending [money] more wisely compared to before,” said Franchak.

“Our bigger goal is to have people across all different walks of life in the Riverside community know what it is that we are doing, so that we can hopefully work with people to participate in our studies,” said Franchak, who directs the Perception, Action and Development Lab.

Information Technology Solutions, or ITS, also participated in the showcase with a presentation that discussed re-imagining faculty development using Zoom, a free web conferencing software program. ITS also issued free professional licenses for Zoom that allow users to upgrade their free personal accounts to host unlimited conferencing sessions.

Samantha Eastman, an instructional designer with Information Technology Solutions, said Zoom can help instructors interested in pursuing online and hybrid teaching methods. Zoom has been a key component in increasing class attendance, since many students can participate by web conference.

“We need to invest in the future, and this is future proofing our classrooms,” said Sheryl Narahara Hathaway, UCR’s associate director of Academic Engagement.

During the showcase, OE recognized 80 staff members for participating in the OE Certificate Program, which is designed to teach participants about collaborative leadership and project management. The program is divided into bronze, silver, and gold levels. The 80 members recognized have completed the bronze level.

Sandra Martinez, a custodial services supervisor within Housing Facilities Services, said she sought the opportunity for career development purposes, and to learn new strategies to collaborate with other departments.

Eric Martin, a project manager for ITS, also said he completed the bronze certificate as a way to propel his career, and he noted the 1.5 hours he committed to the courses fit perfectly into his work schedule.

Vice Chancellor of Business and Administrative Services Ron Coley said investing in staff development is crucial to building a robust workforce and happy employees — a belief also shared by Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and Provost Cynthia K. Larive.

“We focus on professional development for our people because we have this belief that if we teach our people how to fish, we will have an abundance of fish whenever the need arises,” Coley said.

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