The Ufirst Project

Launching the Solution Center

Infographic showing stats on the numbers of customers the Solution Center has served.


Hear from Marcus Hamilton, HR Analyst, Quality & Innovation, about what it took to launch the new UVA HR Solution Center.


What goals did you have and did you meet them?

At launch, our primary goals were to have established performance baselines and maintain service levels while expanding our support to the entire organization. Now faculty, staff, and team members are going to one place instead of two: one team, one place to call, one way to get your problem resolved. Making that transition seamless is difficult, but the team worked tirelessly to make it happen. I’m happy to say they succeeded.

Post launch, our goal was to identify quick wins and longer term continuous improvement opportunities. We have learned a great deal in a short time, and we have already instituted changes in staff scheduling and training resources, for example, based on that data.


How did you come together as a team?

We focused on sharing knowledge. We all came from different backgrounds and thankfully everyone was willing to freely share their knowledge and to make each other comfortable to seek clarification if needed. That openness has led to close bonds that make providing good service easier and dare I say, more fun.


Best part of being the first for the HR transformation?

We definitely developed a sense of camaraderie as we as ventured out first. It gave us a heightened sense of purpose and commitment to making sure it went smoothly so we could serve as proof that it could be done well. And since we had the benefit of going first, we are ready to support the other HR teams as they stand up.



What are you most proud?

I’m most proud of the team’s willingness to take on so many changes at once and still maintain—and in many cases improve—service.


What I am most excited about?

I am excited for the new technology we have in place, which allows us to interact with customers across channels in an integrated way and gather data to drive continuous improvement. We have been able to quickly implement process improvements with a richer and more immediate feedback loop that allows us to serve our customers better every day. It also allows us to report out on the team’s amazing work!


What’s next for the team?

Supporting the launch of the remaining UVAHR teams, continuing our ongoing improvement efforts, and preparing to provide post-Workday-go-live support.


From the Desk of Sean Jackson: The Art of Imperfection

Sean Jackson, Ufirst Executive Director

Sean updating the Ufirst Project kanban board

In February, we uncovered a technology issue on our project that required more time to resolve than we had available. This compelled us to reschedule our system launch date from July 2018 to January 2019. Our project plan was broken and we needed to repair it. In doing so, we resolved not to hide our repairs but to emphasize them so that we might continue to learn from the spots where we rejoined the pieces. This reminded me of Kintsugi.

According to legend, the Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-1490) once broke his favorite ceramic teacup. He sent it to China for repair and it returned mended, but covered with ugly metal staples. Dissatisfied with the inelegance of the repair, the shogun turned to Japanese artisans who removed the previous repair work and used lacquer coated with gold to repair the cup. The shogun was satisfied and thus was born the art and craft of Kintsugi, which translates as “golden joinery.”

An outgrowth of the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi, the belief that posits and encourages us to see the beauty in the flawed and imperfect, kintsugi repairs broken objects in a manner that highlights the damage, rather than trying to hide it. The scars become important not only aesthetically, but also emotionally as they help us work through our regret for our loss and the recognition and acceptance of change as we interact with the transformed object. From a planning and execution perspective there is also the pragmatic benefit of understanding how historical risk factors have combined to influence the whole.

Our project includes a functional transformation in addition to a system implementation. The rescheduled system launch date means that we have the challenge of ensuring that we meet operational demands between now and January, extending our period of service stabilization. Our planning effort encompasses all of these areas and our team members and stakeholders have identified places of stress, strain, and things broken that require attention and mending. At each encounter, we ask why until we understand the root cause. Then we mend.

It has been difficult and challenging to develop a new plan that takes into account the myriad details that cut across our complex landscape. However, we have received a great deal of encouragement and support from our stakeholders, a reaffirmation of the importance of our work along with expressions of gratitude for our decision to maintain our commitment to quality by rescheduling our system launch. The engagement of and with our stakeholders has always been a point of strength on this project, and it remains so.

As we face together the challenge of stabilizing the delivery of our HR services using the current collection of technologies, we are bonding our relationships with confidence, respect, and grace, the golden joinery that will transform our broken project plan into one of imperfect beauty and lasting value.

UVA HR & Ufirst Win Prestigious Award

Michael Latsko, accepting the CUPA HR Excellence Award from CUPA-HR Southern Region president Leanne Fuller of Auburn University

Michael Latsko, accepting the CUPA HR Excellence Award from CUPA-HR Southern Region president Leanne Fuller of Auburn University

2018 Southern Region HR Excellence Award

We are excited to announce that UVA Human Resources has received the 2018 Southern Region HR Excellence Award in recognition of its transformative human resources work in higher education, specifically for the Ufirst project.

The nomination included an in-depth look at the Ufirst project including why the change was needed, how the new ideas were innovative, implementation strategies, and evidence of success with a focus on organizational change. 

The Ufirst project was launched to manage the complex transformation of UVA HR, and to implement a better employment experience across the entirety of the University – the Academic Division, Medical Center, and University Physicians Group. The project also enhances UVA’s ability to recruit, hire, retain and develop top talent in support of excellence in education, research, patient care, and public service.

The award was presented at the Southern Region Symposium of the College & University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA), the nation’s premier higher education HR association. The symposium was held in Charleston, SC in early March. 

Because we won the regional award, our nomination is now submitted to the national awards committee for consideration for the national CUPA-HR Excellence Award (that conference is in October in Indianapolis).

Thanks to the generous support of CUPA-HR sponsors, CUPA-HR made a contribution of $1,000 to UVA’s Faculty and Staff Undergraduate Scholarship.

Sean Jackson, Ufirst Project Executive Director said, “This recognition is well-deserved and I remain grateful for the dedication, thoughtfulness, and hard work of the entire Ufirst team.”

Kelley Stuck, Vice President for Human Resources said, “We consider it an honor to be recognized for the outstanding work of the Ufirst team, and all members of the UVA HR community, who have worked extremely hard to make the HR transformation project successful. Everyone should be proud of their contributions.” Congratulations!

Michael Latsko, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives said, “As an Ufirst project ‘alum’ and a UVA HR team member, it was a true privilege to accept the award on behalf of my colleagues and teammates at the CUPA-VA Southern Region conference. To have our collective work noticed and appreciated in this way should make every one of us very proud. The notoriety also fostered lots of interesting conversations with other higher education colleagues at the conference.  I definitely got the sense that UVA is leading the way in many areas of higher education HR as well as transformation, change and project management.”


“This award honors transformative HR work in higher education, recognizing individuals or teams who have provided HR leadership resulting in significant and ongoing organizational change within their institutions.”

Meet Bryan Garey, Assistant Vice President for Talent

Bryan Garey, Assistant Vice President for Talent

Q: What are you most excited to start working on in your new position?

A: Talent is at the heart of what HR is about: sourcing, selecting, retaining, and developing great people are essential to the value we add to UVA. And, it’s exciting to lead a new team to find ways to make a difference in moving the University forward. From the candidate experience to the hiring process to onboarding to performance management, I hope we can make processes easier for customers and the positive results of the work more obvious and with greater impact. I am excited by the challenge and grateful for the opportunity to serve UVA in this role.


Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: I love Bruce Springsteen so I will pick his truly great song, Born to Run. Beyond the literal story of the song, I find it’s a call to action, of breaking free and living in the moment while moving forward to make things better. And, it’s full of energy!


Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: Trying to find a little extra sleep which seems so elusive these days. I also enjoy seeing friends, hitting a winery, working out, and running errands and doing chores. Church is usually part of the weekend and sometimes a hike in the woods or a camping trip. I like weekends for variety and fun and they are all very different for me.


Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: My two girls, Virginia and Evelyn. Va. is a 2 nd year UVA student and Evelyn is a high school junior. They are great kids…and also have a wonderful Mom.


Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: My theatre background may surprise some, but I have found this rewarding on a personal level and even helpful in my HR career. I love to travel and hope to be fluent in Spanish someday. I also continue to study the piano, taking up lessons about 5 years ago. It’s slow going, but very enjoyable. I like to learn new things and challenge myself with new experiences.

Meet Adam Weikel, Assistant Vice President for Service

Adam Weikel, Assistant Vice President for Service

Q: What are you most excited to start working on in your new position?

A: I am equally excited about WHO (HOO) and WHAT. There is no doubt that the University of Virginia and UVA Health System represent a special place to learn, live, and work. Steeped in history; distinguished among peers; and internationally recognized as a leader in higher education and healthcare. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want to be part of such an impressive community!  We all know that the people make the organization and I love how you all have the exceptional ability to celebrate the past while building the future. I am most excited about getting to know and work with all of you as we build the future HR organization.


Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: I have an eclectic taste in music, so this is a tough question. This song is a bit obscure (even for Parrot Heads ) but I suppose “It’s My Job” by Jimmy Buffett speaks to my general outlook. The lyrics are about individuals in challenging occupations who take pride in their work. It ends with the realization that we all have an important and unique role to play if we are going to achieve collective success. 


Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: Spending time with family and enjoying the great outdoors. I also consider myself a DIY weekend warrior and frequently find myself working on some type of home improvement, landscaping, or woodworking project.


Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: I take great pride in creating opportunities for others. I attribute my professional achievements to the talented teams that I have had the privilege to lead or have been a part of. Coming from the public sector (Government), it has been extremely rewarding to connect people and families with the services they need, and to measurably improve efficiency and efficacy along the way.


Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: I am a wanna-be-homesteader. I would love to grow all my own food and live off the land.

Meet John Kosky, Assistant Vice President for IMPACT and Decision Support

a photo of John Kosky, Assistant Vice President for IMPACT and Decision Support

Q: What are you most excited to start working on in your new position?

A: The opportunity to be part of a major HR transformation of this magnitude and to provide leadership and vision in designing and implementing tools, services, and resources that will make us all great decision-makers. UVA is on the cutting edge within higher education, and that is my comfort zone.


Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian – it is sort of how I approach life. Let’s be positive, have a great sense of humor, and not take ourselves too seriously. Enjoy life!


Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: I have many hobbies that occupy my time ranging from reading to trekking, but largely most of my down time outside of Fall semester is spent traveling. My wife and I (and our 2 Doberman children) believe in working hard and playing hard, so when the time allows, we are on the road and experiencing all the world has to offer. Our most recent trips were Iceland and Peru, with Antarctica, Nepal, and South Africa the next to come. Fall semester is all about the college football season and we travel to most or all of the games to root on our UGA Bulldogs!


Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: Being the first in my immediate family to graduate college while serving in the military. I’m a first generation citizen on my father’s side and from Native American roots on my mother’s side, so being able to accomplish many life goals, mostly unattainable to my family, have been my proudest moments.


Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: We own and operate a small 400-acre farm in the North Georgia mountains, with chicken, cattle, pigs, etc. This is our little sanctuary and we escape there often. Second, I am a major culinary nerd / foodie / wine freak so I love to get very creative in the kitchen cooking using various techniques like sous vide, spherification, complex baking, etc.

Transforming to Cloud with Workday

Workday cloud image

The Cloud
Learn more about how Workday's cloud-based solution can help you.

Built as a single system with a single source of data, single security model, and single user experience, Workday’s cloud-based solution is designed to evolve to meet changing needs

We are assured of having access to the latest version with the latest features and benefits – anytime, anywhere – whether we are using a browser or a mobile device.

Workday provides everyone at UVA with a one-stop shop designed to meet our needs, today and tomorrow. It’s available to us when and where we need it.

Update on Ufirst, UVA’S HR and Payroll Transformation


Dear colleagues:

Thank you for your continued input and efforts in support of the Ufirst project and the transformation of Human Resources and Payroll at UVA. As you know, the Board of Visitors approved the Ufirst project in June 2016, sharing our collective desire for an HR and Payroll transformation that supports every school, the Medical Center, UPG, and our operational units.

The rollout of the redesigned service delivery model is going well and is proceeding as planned this spring. However, after careful consideration and in consultation with Vice President for Human Resources Kelley Stuck and Ufirst Project Executive Director Sean Jackson, we have made the decision to reschedule the launch of the supporting technology, Workday, from July 2018 to January 2019.

As we have emphasized from the beginning of this project, service and quality are our most important objectives. We knew this would be a particularly challenging project, given our aggressive timeline and the complexities of integrating data and functionality across our Academic Division and Health System. To ensure a smooth transition, the project team planned for several rounds of review and testing. During the most recent testing phase, the team discovered issues with how the Workday system processes benefit deductions and integrates those deductions with the Payroll module. This is a significant issue which must be addressed to ensure that our employees will be paid correctly when we launch. The rescheduled launch date of January 2019 will allow the team to finalize the necessary changes, complete testing, and be confident in the accuracy of the payroll and benefits deductions.

The Ufirst project team will update the published communications and training schedules for Workday and will continue to engage and educate University faculty, staff, and team members throughout the coming months. Other important elements of the HR and Payroll transformation will continue to move forward as planned. Our progress to date, has been substantial:

  • Our new HR Organization is well-positioned with HR professionals of the highest caliber prepared to deliver services both in the new model and during this period of transition.

  • HR Business Partners have been selected and trained. They are transitioning to schools and units, supporting strategic human resource priorities and ensuring that HR service expectations are being met.

  • The HR Solution Center launched in December 2017, achieving and maintaining extraordinarily high satisfaction ratings (4.5+ out of 5).

  • The Payroll transformation is proceeding with new streamlined processes designed and configured in Workday to support the new Payroll organization.

  • We have built over 300 HR and Payroll processes and a new HR service delivery structure to which resources are now aligned.

  • Employee data has been integrated into a single data source to support the new service delivery model.

  • We have successfully tested the processes for recruitment, hiring, set up of compensation, and learning program enrollment in the Workday environment.

The Ufirst project represents a significant step forward for the University and plays a critical role in our ability to attract and retain exceptional faculty, staff, and team members committed to teaching, research, and patient care. We are confident that the revised schedule will allow us to get it done right.

Thank you for your continuing support of this important initiative. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Sean Jackson at .


Patrick D. Hogan, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Thomas C. Katsouleas, Executive Vice President & Provost

Richard P. Shannon, MD, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs

Improving the Way We Experience Competencies at the Medical Center

Screen shot of competencies in Workday

Competency (n): proficiency, experience, capability – critical in our business – fundamental to providing excellent care and delivering on our commitment to put the patient at the center of all we do.

The competency assessment process (for new hires and the annual process) for the Medical Center is undergoing a long-overdue overhaul in an effort to change the way team members and managers experience defining, completing, documenting and complying with competencies. This was due in part to the implementation of Workday. The new processes remove many manual and outdated steps by automating tasks and pushing notifications out to help with deadlines.

Shelley Tattersall, Technical Training Specialist, who worked extensively on the project, added, “Not only does the automated process better support our new hires, managers and current team members, it also helps to ensure compliance during regulatory surveys such as Joint Commission. Competencies – now housed in Workday -- can be accessed from any computer for easy and rapid access during surveys.”

Automation Is Key

Workday does the heavy lifting when it comes to automation:

  • The competency assessment form(s) is automatically delivered as a Workday inbox task to new hires who work with their preceptor/trainer/manager to validate, sign and upload the form to Workday.
  • Annual competencies (starting with two pilot groups) are now fully automated in Workday and will include the electronic signature and date/time stamp of the validator (preceptor, trainer, manager).
  • Notification reminders and non-compliance notifications are automatically sent to team members and managers.
  • Reports can be easily generated by the department to check for compliance.

In addition, the process improvement allowed the HR team to align job codes with OCA forms and update organizational and safety competencies.

Support When You Need It

The HR Talent Technical Training Team is a team of dedicated and experienced professionals responsible for supporting competency assessment. This team understands the importance of, and is committed to, collaborating with the unit/department leads to create, update and maintain new hire and annual competencies.

Ufirst Technology and Process Preview and Feedback Health System Session

photo of the preview and feedback session at the Health System

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Ufirst Technology and Process Preview and Feedback Health System Session on Monday, March 12 at Pinn Hall Conference Center. The event was a great success due to your contribution and feedback!

Event details

The Health System Session included an overview of Workday, featuring Workday basics, life events, managing my team, dashboards and reporting, and learning management. There were also two breakout sessions, each with a focus on the recruiting and onboarding processes for team members and faculty.

Pat Hogan, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, kicked off the event, making jokes about a “lovely spring day” (while snowflakes were coming down quickly outside).

Sean Jackson, Ufirst Executive Director, gave out Amazon Fire tablets to six lucky winners and participants mingled with the UVA HR leadership team over coffee.

What we heard from participants

  • “Faculty recruiting in Workday is wonderful, it is great!  Going from Jobs@ to this is like going from a bicycle to a Ferrari!”
  •  “Workday is user friendly! I’m so happy I have access to staff addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays.” 
  • “I like that Workday takes less “clicks” to find information and that there are fewer systems to navigate.” 
  • “Benefits information is so helpful in the way you can enter your information and see the costs associated.” 
by the numbers graphic for the event

Survey ratings

  • 4.9 out of 5: Having access to real time data is useful
  • 4.8 out of 5: Viewing all HR reports in one system is beneficial


The Ufirst project has been a tremendous undertaking that has involved countless employees across the University, bringing together teams from the Academic Division, the Medical Center, and UPG.

Together, we reimagined HR at UVA to meet the changing needs of the University and all of its employees. We have developed a new organizational structure and examined the way we complete every task associated with Human Resources so that we could make improvements.

The work done through the Ufirst project is important not only because of the ways it will improve HR services across the University but also because it will help us work together closely across divisions on other important efforts in the future. We are at our best as an institution when we are working together.

What’s next?

The Health System event recordings are now available! Watch the recordings here

Thank you!

Between the Academic Division and Health System sessions, we have almost 1,000 colleagues who are excited about having a chance to check out Workday. Thank you for your interest and participation, UVA community!

quote from event


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