Donna Olsson is Executive Assistant Dean for Administration and Finance, College of Biological Sciences, serving as administrative/budget/human resources advisor to the Dean and as Chief of Staff for the college.
When did you join the University?
I joined UC Davis in April 1996.
What's your day-to-day role in stewarding university resources?
As the Executive Assistant Dean for Administration and Finance for the College of Biological Sciences (CBS), I serve as administrative/budget/human resources advisor to the Dean and as Chief of Staff for the college. On a daily basis, I’m involved in budget and administrative planning, particularly on complex issues that include more than one area (such as two or more departments/centers, or finance and human resources). I work with faculty and staff throughout CBS, with assistant deans in various schools/colleges on shared financial projects, and with staff in many Vice Chancellor/CFO units and in other vice provost and vice chancellor units. My role is a combination of listening, planning, analysis, and follow-through with many, many people.
What's an example of how you delight customers?
I enjoy helping faculty and staff understand the campus and college budget models. I routinely give informal or formal budget briefings to CBS department chairs/center directors, CAOs/MSOs, and faculty Executive Committee representatives. Looking back on a recent informal budget discussion with faculty, I tried to listen well and provide both “big picture” and detailed information.
What do you like best about working at UC Davis?
I know many others have said this, but I truly do love working with so many people who are passionate about the public university mission of UC Davis.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
There are many more worthwhile resource needs than there are current available resources. By resources, I mean money, staff and space. So, while I try to help develop revenue-generation ideas for the Dean, I am also often in the position of advising the Dean and others about very difficult resource trade-offs. I explain the challenges and trade-offs as early as possible, to give others more time to ask questions and potentially develop other options.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people wouldn’t know.
A few years ago, I was a kidney donor for a family member. She has since graduated from high school and gone on to take college courses. I encourage people to consider becoming organ or blood donors.