Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Provides Update on Progress, Challenges

Jeffrey Bluestone

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, who assumed the University’s No. 2 post in March, provided an update on progress and challenges to the UCSF community in an email on Tuesday.

Bluestone reaffirmed his commitment to implementing the vision of Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, and credited faculty and staff for their exceptional work in living up to UCSF’s vision.

He recounted a list of accomplishments to date, including minimizing the financial blow of state budget cuts from the educational mission and instead successfully working with the units that report to the executive vice chancellor and provost office to identify $3.6 million in budget reductions.

Below is Bluestone’s first email message as EVCP in its entirety.

August 17, 2010

Dear Colleagues:

I have been asked frequently why I agreed to assume the role of Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (EVCP) at UCSF in April. The answer is simple. I believe that the combination of the new leadership, fantastic faculty and staff, a great institution and enormous challenges that academic medical centers are facing in the next decade make the job stimulating and, hopefully, impactful. 

Chancellor Desmond-Hellmann recently released her new website stating “We are changing the world for the better.” She often says that everyone “deserves” a great manager. I am committed to implementing her vision. Thus, my first 120 days as EVCP have been an education, a chance for me to see the extraordinary vitality, competence and breadth of our spectacular schools, programs and people on all our campuses. I have worked closely with the chancellor, UCSF’s leadership team, faculty, and senior administrators to experience firsthand the contributions, challenges, and opportunities in furthering the campus priorities. I am proud and humbled by the exceptional work done by our faculty and staff in living up to UCSF’s vision.

As the Chief Academic Officer, it has been my aspiration to positively affect the culture and structure of UCSF. My job is to address critical infrastructure needs to support basic and clinical research (not just make the trains run-on-time, but make them run faster and more effectively), to seek new opportunities for industry, academic and governmental partnerships, develop a faculty reward system, to recognize and retain excellent talented staff, and build upon our commitment to inclusion and diversity. We must rethink our organization and bring creativity and ingenuity to how we conduct business within the context of tough budgetary constraints and while keeping focused on the core values and strategic opportunities. But, in the end, the key is to make sure that UCSF remains the great institution it is today. Importantly, no one has been shy. Many of the leaders and faculty that I have met with across the campus have been forthcoming with essential input on how the organization can be managed more efficiently and strategically positioned to develop innovative, collaborative approaches for education, health care and research that span across the multiple disciplines within the health sciences. This mark in time allows me to summarize some of the progress and challenges we are tackling:

Budget and Finance: 

  • As a first responsibility, Sue and I agreed that the state budget cuts should not be spread equally around the campus, but that we in central administration should work hard to streamline operations to eat the lion’s share of the budget cuts while preserving mission critical efforts. In this regard, we have successfully worked with the EVCP reporting units to identify $3.6 million in budget reductions.

  • We have moved toward a transparent line item budgeting process for all direct reports and organizational owners. This has ensured that expenditures will be maximized for positive outcomes and will help create cost savings to support critical programs. For example, through effective leadership, contract management and active collaboration with peer institutions, we are able to deliver an online faculty advancement system to the campus that is highly functional for end users and under budget.

  • We have worked effectively with Senior Vice Chancellor John Plotts and the Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) group to partner strategically in maximizing resource allocations in support of academic programs.

Operational Excellence:

  • The chancellor has laid out an ambitious plan to enhance efficiency and maximize productivity by developing clustered administrative and finance functions through the University. The EVCP has organized and launched an operational excellence service center that will aggregate core functions with central academic administration and yield financial and functional benefits.

  • We have reorganized both the EVCP and Chancellor’s offices organization to achieve budgetary savings, streamline structure and provide a more open and transparent operation to the leadership, faculty and staff.

John Plotts and I are leading the effort with the schools and chancellor units (FAS, University Development and Alumni Relations and University Relations) to develop an operational excellence program to:

  • Resolve resource and design conflicts
  • Monitor and report on costs and savings
  • Identify and validate communications requirements
  • Identify a funding model to support new service delivery that is transparent, direct and equitable

Information Technology:

Working with the new Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Officer Elazar Harel, we have created a new era in information technology that is focused on providing better customer service, expertise and technology and creating quick wins for Information Technology Services (ITS).

  • We have transformed and consolidated ITS

  • We have provided resources to the newly named ITS organization in tackling major technology initiatives:

Enhancements of the wireless network, IT procurement, Helpdesk, and email/calendaring systems.

  • We are working with ITS, the School of Medicine and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) to develop a plan for an academic applications store.


    We have begun to transform the leadership and direction of the EVCP Office. We have:

    • Recruited a new Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Susanne Hildebrand-Zanki, who is focused on creative and efficient ways to address the challenges of research administration (We are grateful to Clifford Roberts for his service and contributions since 2006 as Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Research.).

    • Recruited a top-notch Executive Director of the new Research Resource Program, Julie Auger, to transform the structure of the cores.

    • Launched a new Office of Technology, Innovation and Industry Partnerships to enhance our relationship with industry, build the most effective technology transfer office and help faculty navigate the processes needed to do their research.

    EVCP Initiatives:

    Among recent developments we are:

    • Working with the School of Medicine and QB3 to coordinate efforts with several industry partners as a model for cross-campus collaborations.

    • Initiating an early-stage planning process for new Global Health Sciences and Human Biology strategic initiatives.

    • Building strategic alliances with Kings College of London.

    • Creating a rational model for meetings focused on “Best Use of Leadership Time.”

    • Reviewing and streamlining the number of mandatory trainings.

    • Assessing the number, scope, and utility of campus committees. Currently, there are 84 ad hoc and standing and 31 campuswide and award committees.

    • Taking a 360-degree approach by working with the chancellor, senior leadership and EVCP direct reports to build a new team with energy, effectiveness and vision for the future.

    I have been inspired by the renowned faculty who are extraordinary educators, researchers and clinicians; the gifted staff who are exceedingly passionate about their work; and the creative students, residents, and postdoctoral scholars we train. 

    I want to thank the UCSF community for the feedback I have received about our achievements, challenges and needs. I will continue to focus my activities on the operational and programmatic areas noted above and I welcome any further suggestions on how we can do the best job possible in supporting the mission of the University.

    Jeffrey A. Bluestone, Ph.D.
    Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

    Photo by Susan Merrell

    Related Links:

    Bluestone to Capitalize on New Opportunities to Advance UCSF
    UCSF Today, March 25, 2010

    UCSF appoints Bluestone as executive vice chancellor and provost
    UCSF News Release, March 25, 2010