UCSF Welcomes New Chief Business Officer

By Lisa Cisneros on January 25, 2010

John Plotts

John Plotts, a seasoned business executive from private industry and an administrator with deep knowledge of the UC system, joins UCSF today on his first day on the job as chief business officer.

Plotts, whose career spans 30 years, will report directly to the chancellor and fill a pivotal role in UCSF’s executive leadership team.

UC Regents on Jan. 21 approved the appointment of Plotts in his official title as senior vice chancellor of Finance and Administration, following the recommendation of UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH.

Desmond-Hellmann, who announced his appointment on Jan. 5, said that Plotts “has the important business strategy background and financial reporting and accounting expertise required to lead UCSF into a new era of financial transparency and operational efficiency.”

Plotts will lead the central administrative and financial organization, which has an annual budget of $180 million and 1,200 employees. He also assumes management of real estate and campus planning.

Plotts will work closely with senior leadership, the faculty, the Regents, the UC Office of the President (UCOP), UCSF Foundation board members, major donors, and other key campus and community stakeholders. He comes to UCSF from UCOP, where he worked for 13 years most recently in the role of assistant vice president of financial management.

Setting Priorities for First 90 Days

Among his priorities for the first 90 days are to meet people across campus to understand important issues and challenges; quickly assess and address the critical organizational and operational issues in finance and administration, and formalize the financial strategy for fiscal year 2010-2011, including deriving the maximum amount of savings from the administrative and operating efficiencies project.

That project, steered by the Chancellor’s Administrative and Operating Efficiencies Work Group, co-chaired by Interim Vice Chancellor Randy Lopez and Michael Hindery, vice dean of the School of Medicine, involves making recommendations on how to realize cost reductions in the range of $28 million to $40 million beginning in fiscal year 2010-2011.

“Ultimately, priorities for finance and administration will be sharply focused on providing strategic leadership and guidance to the University to best serve its academic and clinical enterprises, while providing strong financial stewardship,” Plotts said.

Plotts believes that the disinvestment in education by the State has created significant obstacles for UCSF that can, and must, be overcome. He understands the implications are particularly acute with respect to the recruitment and retention of faculty, students and trainees and he is committed to developing a strategy to address these challenges, as well as being thoughtful about new approaches to acquiring and managing capital and debt.

To advance UCSF’s future growth, Plotts will take on the important task of developing a business plan to implement the seven major initiatives identified in the UCSF Strategic Plan, released in June 2007. That plan – the product of a highly inclusive process –outlines the investments that UCSF must make in people, infrastructure, facilities, partnerships and working environment over the next decade.

Plotts said he wanted to join UCSF to ensure that its administrative operations meet the standard of excellence of its academic and clinical endeavors. “The leadership team at UCSF is dedicated to making UCSF one of the world’s best academic health sciences institutions. I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to the effort in my new capacity.”

Leading UCSF in Transition

Today Plotts takes the helm of a finance and administrative organization that has operated in a state of transition since the June 2008 retirement of Steve Barclay, former senior vice chancellor for Finance and Administration. Since then, Lopez has served as interim vice chancellor for Finance and Administration.

During this time of transition, Plotts says it is important for staff to understand that change can revitalize and strengthen the University. “My personal view is that each of us at UCSF will need to embrace change and become very proactive in how we identify and implement ways that we can achieve continuous improvement and efficiencies in support of our mission,” he said.

Plotts describes his management style as result- and team-oriented. He is looking forward to getting to know the finance and administration team and hearing its ideas. Plotts also seeks to continue to foster an environment which encourages employees to become personally accountable for achieving outcomes for near-term objectives and continuous improvement over the longer term.

“If we all have a sense of personal accountability, we’ll be successful, both individually and as a team. Everyone has a part to play in achieving successful results. And successes need to be widely shared and recognized,” he said.

Taking Pride in UCSF

Plotts is well known to members of UCSF’s campus and medical center leadership, having worked on UCSF’s behalf on many occasions during his time at UCOP. He was instrumental in assisting campus officials, including Barclay, in shepherding the complex financial plans that led to the creation of the UCSF Mission Bay campus. He is proud of the results.

In fact, Plotts says one of the reasons he is motivated to come to UCSF is to be closer to the campus that has made great strides over the past decade. “It’s absolutely phenomenal what has been accomplished,” he said. “The closer you are to UCSF, the more pride you have in the University. It becomes more tangible, more personal.”

Plotts lives with his wife, Roxanne, in Pleasanton, where they raised two sons. He hopes that now that he will be working San Francisco, they can experience more of what the city has to offer in terms of sporting events, plays and restaurants.

Plotts is eager to embark upon his new role at UCSF, which attracted him because of its commitment to “absolute excellence” in research, education and clinical care. “I am very excited and proud to be joining an organization of such high caliber that contributes so much to the well-being of society.”

Related Link:

UCSF appoints new leader for finance and administration
news release, Jan. 21, 2010

Chancellor Names Senior Vice Chancellor, Finance and Administration, Pending Approval by Regents
UCSF Today, Jan. 5, 2010

John Plotts, UC Office of the President