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July 23, 1998

Ramicone reorganizes Pitt Finance offices, services

The University of Pittsburgh probably spends more money on maintaining space — offices, labs, classrooms, etc. — than on anything except employee salaries and fringe benefits.

Unlike many other universities, though, Pitt doesn't charge individual departments and other units for the space they occupy.

Not yet, anyway.

But creation of a pay-for-space system will be among the tasks assigned to a new group of Pitt Finance staff, called the Planning and Analysis Group. It's one of three new Finance staff groups formed through a reorganization of University financial operations.

Arthur G. Ramicone, interim vice chancellor for Finance, announced the reorganization last week.

The new alignment of finance staff is aimed at improving customer service, providing more useful information to Pitt managers and taking full advantage of PRISM and other technologies, he said.

About 20 jobs will be cut, nearly all through attrition, from among approximately 200 Pitt Finance staff positions, Ramicone said. "Since last winter, we've made a conscious effort not to fill certain vacant positions. I expect we'll have maybe a couple of layoffs as a result of this reorganization," he projected.

By eliminating redundant operations, grouping office functions more logically and stripping away unnecessary management layers, the reorganization will (among other things) free up finance staff to work on major projects like developing a pay-for-space system, according to Ramicone.

Under such a system, he said, units would not suddenly be billed for space they occupy; those charges would somehow be built into their existing budgets at first. "Over time, though, the goal would be to allow units to forego space in exchange for additional budget money, or acquire more space with the understanding that they have to pay for it," Ramicone said.

"Ultimately, what we would hope to do is make people realize that space represents a huge cost to this institution, probably our second-highest cost after compensation," he said. "If we begin treating it as a precious resource, then we can probably avoid costs in the future — leasing additional office space, constructing new buildings, whatever." The new Planning and Analysis Group will be headed by Jane Thompson, who has been promoted to the rank of associate vice chancellor. A 10-year Pitt employee, Thompson will continue to oversee risk management, environmental health and safety, and workers' compensation.

The new organizational structure includes four other key units: * The Financial Information Management Group, which will centralize reporting of all Pitt financial information regardless of recipient, source or purpose. "Bringing together all our reporting functions will improve coordination and consistency of our reporting while eliminating redundant accumulation and evaluation of the same or similar data by various departments," Ramicone wrote in a July 17 memo outlining the reorganization. Thurman Win-grove will head this group as an assistant vice chancellor. Wingrove has worked at Pitt for eight years, most recently as interim assistant controller.

* The Financial Operations Group, which will bring together purchasing and billing functions previously conducted in separate departments reporting to different managers, including Accounts Payable, Invoice Audit, Audit Review, Purchasing and Payroll. Centralizing those activities "will provide better customer service, career opportunities for staff, and greater flexibility to the managers," Ramicone wrote. Overseeing the group will be Maureen Beal, who has been promoted to the rank of assistant vice chancellor after seven years at Pitt as an Internal Audit supervisor and a member of the PRISM implementation team, among other positions.

* The Office of Finance, led by Director of Finance and Assistant Treasurer Marlin Pease, which will continue to report to Ramicone essentially as before. Pease joined the office in 1992 as assistant director of Finance.

* Student Financial Services, which combines Financial Information Systems, Student Services and the Cashier's office. Heading the new unit is Dennis DeSantis, who has been promoted to associate vice chancellor. DeSantis has served as manager of systems development, associate registrar, SOLARS project director and in several other jobs during his 20-year Pitt career.

Other personnel changes and an organizational chart were detailed in Ramicone's July 17 memo.

— Bruce Steele

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