November 16, 2022
Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,
I am writing to share that Darrell Bazzell has let me know he will be leaving the university at the end of the spring semester. We will begin a national search soon to identify his successor.
Darrell joined the university as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2016 to oversee our financial and administrative functions, and shortly thereafter, his portfolio, , Financial and Administrative Services, expanded to include additional operational responsibilities. Since then, he has made tremendous strides to improve the university’s financial position, helped us navigate the choppy waters of the COVID-19 pandemic, and been an integral part of our Change Starts Here planning team. I want to express my deepest gratitude to Darrell for all he has done to serve our great university, improve our financial and operational positions, and advance our strategic initiatives.
As with any leadership change, we must consider the best way to manage this transition and how we might position our teams differently to support our vision for the future. With our aspiration to become the highest-impact public research university in mind, we have an opportunity to bring together many of our building management and operational functions, currently managed across three different portfolios, to form a unified team. I have had several discussions with the leaders of these distributed functions – Darrell, Soncia Reagins-Lilly and Jim Davis – to look for ways we could better coordinate their respective functions to improve our campus and the experiences of our students, staff and faculty.
Effective December 1, we are consolidating university real estate planning, development, construction, and much of our building operations and maintenance under Jim Davis’ leadership. Combining these currently distributed teams under one leader will enable greater coordination and tighter execution of our vision for creating inspiring spaces and fostering operational excellence in service of our research and teaching missions.
Given this expanded portfolio, Jim’s new title will be Vice President for Business Strategies and Operations. Business Strategies will continue to include Discovery to Impact and the now unified real estate team. Jim will also continue his role leading legal affairs, along with Deputy Vice President Amanda Cochran-McCall.
With this change, the Facilities Planning and Management (FPM) team, currently reporting to Darrell, will transition to the Business Strategies and Operations portfolio. David Darling, AVP for FPM, is leaving the university, and Darren Hale will become interim Executive Director of Construction and Facilities, reporting to Jim during a search for a new leader.
While these changes are focused on our internal operations, we also continue to focus on the experiences of our students and their health and wellness. These are interwoven throughout many aspects of our strategic plan. I am grateful to Soncia Reagins-Lilly, VP for Student Affairs, for her willingness to step forward and help to not only rethink, but fundamentally transform how and where we serve our students in the years ahead.
To this end, we can better serve our students by enabling our leaders to focus on particular areas across our housing and dining activities. Led by Don Ates, Residential Facilities Services will continue to support the needs of University Housing and Dining and will now report to Jim. I want to thank Soncia and Marilyn Tyus, Associate Vice President of University Housing and Dining, who have faithfully managed and developed this high-performing team.
Soncia, Darrell, Jim and their respective leadership teams will work together to determine the best approach to ensure all their operations are aligned and maximized for the best interests of our campus community.
While I acknowledge that change often creates challenges, it can also create opportunities. I am confident these changes in our organizational structure are the right ones for the university as we pursue greater impact and excellence in these critical functional areas. Whether your role is directly affected by this change or not, I thank you all for your ongoing commitment and dedication to one another, our students and our teaching and research missions as we continue our Change Starts Here journey
Please join me in thanking Darrell for his service to the university, supporting Soncia as she drives innovative approaches to student life, and congratulating Jim on his expanded role.