Taken by Kevin Din

The UC Office of the President (UCOP) has selected UC Riverside to host the new UCPath Center, an employee service center that will handle the entire UC’s human resources and payroll services. The announcement took place at UC Riverside last Thursday during a conference in HUB 302, which included speakers Chancellor White, UC Vice President Nathan Brostrom and City of Riverside council members. The decision has been praised by community leaders due to the estimated 500-600 jobs that the center will create once it is fully operational.

The center, which will handle the services of every UC campus and medical center by 2014, is expected to produce annual savings of up to $100 million. “The savings of this kind of magnitude will allow us to redirect resources to our core academic mission of teaching, research [and] creative activity,” stated Chancellor White.

“[The center] quite frankly demonstrates even further that we are responsible stewards of the public dollar here in California.” White’s sentiment was reflected in a press release by the UCOP, in which UC President Mark Yudof stated, “We are using the power of technology and of centralized services to streamline our costs and to give taxpayers the best possible return on investment.”

The idea of the UCPath Center was first proposed by the UC’s Working Smarter initiative, which was tasked with identifying the most cost-efficient strategies for the university. Among these strategies was the consolidation of every human resource and payroll system into a single center with standardized procedures and consistent business processes.

UC Riverside was one of the six campuses that applied to be hosts for the new center. According to the UC Office of the President, UC Riverside was chosen for its excellence on 6 aspects: the ability to leverage existing UC talent, the local availability of experts, availability of space for the center, quality of life considerations and the level of support from local leadership.

“UC Riverside emerged as the best choice, particularly when we factored in our desire to attract UC staff. We hope to draw job applicants from across the University, but this central location will make it an especially convenient choice for staff at our four Southern California campuses,” stated Brostrom. Statistics presented during the conference revealed that 140-160 jobs would be created for the center’s initial launch in July of 2013.

The support from local leadership factor was publicly illustrated during January’s UC regent meetings, when Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge asked the regents to select Riverside for the new center. “We understand that you’re looking for a site for an office for human resources and payroll…The city would work closely and effectively with the university to make that happen,” stated Loveridge.

Although the location of the center has not yet been finalized, Chancellor White said there were several options within a “stone’s throw” of the campus. Brostrom stated that the cost of consolidating system-wide HR, payroll and similar services under the UCPath Center would be approximately $170 million over a 7-year period.

Meanwhile, the cost of establishing the center itself is unknown since the center’s location has not been selected yet. “Once we’ve paid off that cost, that’s where we get to $100 million plus in terms of savings,” stated Brostrom during Thursday’s conference.

One of the concerns regarding the UCPath Center stemmed from loss of jobs caused by switching to a single system-wide center—which entails the minimizing or closing of HR and payroll centers from other UC campuses and health centers. Brostrom explained that the impact of job losses would be curbed due to a hiring priority on UC employees and current efforts that utilize attrition measures (as opposed to the immediate closing of a center) in anticipation of the UCPath Center.

“Except for a few top-tier management positions that will be subject to a national search, University of California employees will have first priority for UCPath Center jobs,” stated a memo from the UCOP. Furthermore, Brostrom noted that the UC campuses and health centers have been notified of the planned center and will have time to prepare for changes.