On July 1, the Speed Business Center opened as the pilot program for other U of L college business centers. Staff from each department were combined and placed in the Vogt Building in order to take care of financial, accounting, human resource and grants-related transactions.
The goal was to make handling the business affairs of the college more efficient and have specific people handle these responsibilities rather than place them on people in the departments.
“The overall idea was to improve the overall service quality being provided to the departments and remove administrative burden of the departments so they can focus on their academic and research mission.” said Associate Dean John Usher.
The Business Center was identified in the 2020 Strategic Plan for Speed School in order to support the vision of the school, improve the quality and timeliness of the business processes and meet the university mandate to improve financial controls.
The staff includes Business Center Manager, Laura Newton, and three Business Partners, Sue Jones, Susan Cunningham and Kelly Jackson. They each overlook finance, human resources and grants and contracts, respectively.
“Departments still have a main role in this Business Center because most everything they process comes through us and we could not function without the departments’ help.” said Susan Cunningham.
The Business Center Manager acts as the leader responsible for the performance, development and improvement of the Business Center as well as a liaison between the Business Center and the university.
The HR Business Partner is in charge of hiring for all of Speed School, the Grants and Contracts Business Partner handles all of the research proposals and grants and the Finance Business Partner is responsible for all the monthly reconciliation for the school.
“It’s really been helpful to have everyone here together, sit down and brainstorm. Between us we have a lot of years of experience, so if I haven’t seen it, someone else has had experience with it.” said Kelly Jackson.
Unit Business Managers were pulled from each department to work in the Business Center. While the overall reaction is positive, a lot of their responsibilities fell on other people in the department who weren’t used to it. But with any major transition like this, it takes time for everyone to get used to the new way of doing things.
“We all have to work together and that is the major thing,” said Sue Jones. “It takes a whole school and our wonderful leader to bring us all together and make this work.”