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The Business of Excellence

The Business of Excellence

Grounded in Optimism

Mike Shriner
Mike Shriner

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 Hurricane Ike.

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 helm.

“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.”

The extent of the damage Hurricane Ike caused is difficult to envision. The equivalent of 17 football fields, or almost half of the business space in the Empire State Building, flooded. A blood bank, pharmacy and hospital kitchen totaled. Expensive equipment destroyed. Almost every elevator rendered useless. It is little wonder that repairs and rebuilding will require five full years to complete.

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 issue.

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 focused on:

  • 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 at

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

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 sustainability.

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 research capacity.
  • 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 been identified.
  • 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).

Looking Forward

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.