The Business of
Grounded in Optimism
Mike Shriner was destined to build
things. His dad managed a lumber
yard and hardware store, so he was
surrounded by the tools of the trade
growing up. He realized his dream
of becoming an architect at an early
age and pursued it with passion
— the same passion he brings to
his UTMB role as he oversees the
rebuilding of the campus following
The 17-year UTMB veteran earned his first college degree in construction
management, went on to get an architectural degree, and topped it
off with a master’s in business administration and finance. He says his
background helps him feel “really comfortable in this role.”
And it’s a big one. As vice president of business operations and
facilities, Shriner’s main focus is getting UTMB up and running—but not
necessarily back to business as usual. Since September 2008, he’s been
working to calculate the scope of Ike-related damages with teams of
architects, engineers, FEMA inspectors, and mitigation and architectural
firms to determine the best way to position UTMB for the future.
“It would be a shame if we simply repaired and put things back the way
they were. We would miss an opportunity to make the campus much
more resilient,” says Shriner. By June, he and his colleagues hope to
finalize their plan for doing just that. “I think that’s what the citizens of
Texas would expect,” he adds. “We have a very important mission. We
need to come back stronger than ever and better prepared to deal with
events like Ike.”
The challenges are many and involve everything from replacing or
repairing 124 of UTMB’s 130 elevators to massive reengineering of major
infrastructure, such as repair or reconfiguration of more than six miles of
severely damaged utility lines that run beneath UTMB’s 120-acre campus.
Most of the damage UTMB sustained was caused by flood waters that
wreaked havoc on 1 million square feet of ground-floor space, destroying
critical equipment and incapacitating vital services.
Shriner points out that high water will come again, regardless of
engineering or architectural wizardry. But, of course, he has a plan for
that too—let it flow.
“Water runs off the edges of Galveston Island within a few hours,” he
explains. “Our goal is to let it come and then let it dissipate naturally.
We can reconfigure ourselves in such a way that anything in the path of
rising water is capable of handling it and relocate all critical functions to
the appropriate elevation. We’re close to finalizing that plan and hope to
have initial FEMA approvals this summer.”
Rebuilding UTMB is a painstaking adventure in patience and
perseverance. It’s also a testament to everyone involved in getting UTMB
back on its feet and better than ever. It helps to have an optimist at the
“It will be very rewarding when we complete this process,” Shriner says.
“The real opportunity here is to end up with a more resilient UTMB
—not just our buildings, but our education, research and patient care
enterprises as well.”
Financial Discipline, Strategic Growth
Despite the temporary disarray and hurricane-related costs amounting to $1 billion,
UTMB is increasingly optimistic about its long-term financial health. The university
ended fiscal year 2009 $5 million ahead of budget, and revenue for the first six months
of fiscal year 2010 has exceeded expenses by approximately $12.2 million. This marks
the university’s first positive financial trend in at least 10 years, a testament to countless
faculty and staff who have worked diligently to contain costs during the post-Ike recovery
and rebuilding phase.
This isn’t to say that financial challenges are a thing of the past. While the spring opening
of the Specialty Care Center at Victory Lakes signals a major and needed expansion of offisland
services, start-up costs will require continuous monitoring and management.
A more complex financial concern involves UTMB’s contract with the Texas Department
of Criminal Justice to provide health care to offender populations. Without intervention
or additional financial support, UTMB could lose between $65 million and $100 million
during the current biennium, and leadership is working with state leaders to resolve the
Another priority is effectively managing cash flow to support the “Fix-Run-Grow”
model under which we will be operating for the next several years. Simply put, we must
repair—or fix—nearly $700 million in Ike-related damages while maintaining day-to-day
operations . . . and planning for and investing in future growth.
Consolidating Financial Operations
In fiscal year 2009, UTMB consolidated its previously
independent academic, clinical and institutional
financial functions within the Business and Finance
enterprise, with an eye toward improved efficiency and
responsiveness. The new financial leadership team is
centralizing and improving financial reporting,
enhancing communications among the educational,
patient care and operational functions, and
improving customer service.
Initiating an Ambitious Rebuilding Plan
Over the next three years, UTMB will be focused on the
extensive repair and rebuilding of more than 1 million
square feet of business space flooded by Hurricane Ike.
(With the exception of UTMB’s newest facility, the
Galveston National Laboratory, every building on the
campus suffered storm-related damage.)
Executive leadership has been working with the
81st Texas Legislature, the UT System, the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and
insurance providers to assemble the funding necessary
to remediate damage and rebuild the Galveston campus.
Initially estimated at $667 million, the recovery plan
calls for renovation of 1 million square feet over the next
three years as follows:
400,000 square feet in 2010
an additional 400,000 square feet in 2011
the remaining 200,000 square feet in 2012
UTMB expects to ramp up to nearly 1,000 on-site
construction workers over the next three years,
and employees and community members alike can
stay informed and current about everything from
elevator repairs to patient room remodeling to new
construction by visiting the interactive campus map
Keeping employees and the public up to date on
the institution’s progress will be key to UTMB’s
continued recovery and long-term success, and
the Business and Finance enterprise is planning
quarterly updates on financial, facilities, workforce,
technology and marketing developments. In
addition, a new, interactive web portal featuring
information about business-related functions will
launch in spring 2010. And, a business intelligence
model designed to provide UTMB users with realtime
financial, demographic and research data, will
also premier in late 2010.
A Master Plan
UTMB’s 25-year master facilities plan reflects the
breadth of our long-standing service to the region and
state through health sciences education, research and
patient care. Teaching, discovery, health care delivery
and business operations take place day in and day out
on our home campus on Galveston Island, through an
extensive network of community-based clinics, and at a
specialty care center soon to open on a 62-acre Victory
Lakes campus in northern Galveston County.
The master plan, recently presented to the UT System
Board of Regents, speaks to them all. It addresses
everything from mitigation, building standards and site
lighting to pedestrian connections, landscaping and
future development. It recognizes the influence that
growth, changes in technology and the pressing need
for a more storm-resistant campus will have on UTMB in
the years ahead. And, it underscores the importance of
A few highlights:
The main UTMB campus will feature an additional
3 million gross square feet of space.
Most of the growth on the island campus will
occur in areas of higher elevation (along and east
of Eighth Street) and focus on increasing UTMB’s
An upgraded University Boulevard will become the
main campus entrance.
Elevated pedestrian paths will connect parking
options with campus destinations.
Green space at the heart of campus will be a priority.
Sites for campus housing and nearby locations for
private-sector research and incubator space have
The Victory Lakes campus will offer almost 3 million
new gross square feet of space (see page 15 for
additional details on UTMB’s Specialty Care Center).
Given the severity of Ike-related damages and the
boldness of our vision for UTMB 20 years from now,
it is clear that we have a busy and challenging time
ahead of us. A rolling budget process and strategic
reporting tools will allow for better planning, better
resource management and greater accountability.
Our commitment to improving service and
communication will increase satisfaction among the
many populations we serve. Given recent financial
upturns, resources for rebuilding and growth, and
the widespread support we enjoy, UTMB has an
incredible opportunity not only to make a full
recovery but also to be better than ever.