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UCSF Appoints Vermillion as Vice Chancellor of Finance

By Juliana Bunim

Eric Vermillion, associate vice chancellor of finance, has been appointed UCSF’s vice chancellor of finance, a promotion that acknowledges his increased scope of responsibilities during the last three years and his strong commitment to UCSF.

Eric Vermillion

Eric Vermillion

The appointment was approved May 17 by the UC Board of Regents and announced by Senior Vice Chancellor John Plotts on Wednesday.  

“This appointment is in recognition of the significant increase in institutional and fiduciary responsibility Eric has assumed over the last three years, including oversight of the UCSF Controller’s Office, which has reported to Eric on a temporary basis since June 1, 2008,” Plotts wrote in his announcement. “Eric has tremendous institutional knowledge and a deep devotion to UCSF.”

Reporting to Plotts, Vermillion has direct management responsibility over 225 employees across four departments  - Budget and Resource Management, Purchasing and Business Services, Risk Management and the Controller’s Office. 

Vermillion also serves as the principal finance and resource lead over an array of UCSF’s management and stewardship activities, including Budget and Planning, Compliance Programs and Fiscal Management and Mission Bay Campus Development.

Nationally, Vermillion is a member of the Board of the Council on Governmental Relations, an association of research universities; a member of the Society for College and University Planners and a member of the National Association of Colleges and University Planners. He is also past national chair of the Group on Institutional Planning for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

'Enlightening' Experience

Vermillion has worked at UCSF for 32 years, and says he owes much more to the University than just a long career. He was also treated at UCSF for advanced cancer 10 years ago.

“I have a deep, undying love for this institution and it keeps me committed,” Vermillion said. “I owe a lot to this place and its top-flight health care. It’s enlightening to see the treatment and learning from the inside how we really carry out the mission of education and patient care.”

Vermillion cites his bout with cancer as giving him a new outlook on what’s important in life, keeping him grounded and mostly stress free, even when contending with shifting budget implications that result from the state's ongoing budget crisis and other economic uncertainties, including continued pressure on federal funding of biomedical research. “There’s not much that scares or worries me these days,” he said. “I keep calm and have perspective about things.”

“I have a deep, undying love for this institution and it keeps me committed,” Vermillion said. 

Vermillion also attributes his composed attitude to having a staff of “top shelf” individuals. “I take a great deal of care in hiring, and like to hire people smarter than me,” he said. “I think I’ve done a good job of that.”

While the future of the state’s budget — and the allocation of state funds to UCSF — remains uncertain, Vermillion said UCSF has had a head start in preparations, thanks to a new approach that began when Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, took the reins two years ago.

“She thought about doing business in new ways, and moving UCSF to being more self-sufficient and independent, with less dependence on state funds,” he said.

UCSF will only depend on state funds for roughly 4 percent of its budget next fiscal year — a seemingly small amount, but a critical piece of UCSF's overall funding, Vermillion said. “We really started planning for what hit us about a year before everyone else.”

And this is far from the first time Vermillion is tackling state budget cuts, which date back to the state’s fiscal crisis in 1991. “It has not been easy and it’s not done without retrenching the operation. But we have a plan and once you’ve been inside the process, you realize things do work out.”

Photo by Susan Merrell