It’s been a little over a year since UC Merced ended its contract with Lynda.com. But thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Administrative Coordination Team (ACT), Human Resources, Office of Information Technology (OIT), and Procurement and Contracting Services, the popular self-study professional development service is once again available to all UC Merced faculty and staff.
It all started with OIT, which never stopped using Lynda.com even when the campus-wide contract ended. “Technology shifts or substantively changes around every 17 months, so keeping up to date is not only a responsibility for IT professionals, but for all knowledge workers in a world where the ability to adapt is critical,” Chief Information Office Ann Kovalchick said. “I'm pleased that the campus has made the strategic decision to invest in our faculty and staff by providing access to Lynda.com's high-quality training materials once more.”
Over the past year, staff in Procurement and Contracting Services, which handles purchasing, contracts, real estate services and equipment management for the entire campus, noted other departments expressing interest in using the service.
Strategic Sourcing Manager Meagan Torres approached Human Resources to see whether a campus-wide contract could be negotiated to allow more users at a lower price. A contract covering 80 users, for example, was more than $15,000, but a contract for 1,800 – enough for all UC Merced faculty and staff — was only about $11,000 more, a difference of $173 per user per year.
Meagan’s initiative in this case demonstrates the value of UC Merced’s procurement and strategic sourcing model,” Chief Procurement Officer Josh Dubroff said. “Having highly trained people in a culture that promotes initiative aligned with strategic objectives allows for innovation that saves money and offers a value for the campus beyond dollars and cents.”
Saving money is a key driver, but so is use. To assess potential usage among UC Merced staff and faculty, Human Resources Talent Development Programs Manager Yazi Navarro did a deeper investigation into the possibility of bringing back Lynda.com.
“When we had Lynda before, 38 percent of our employees had active accounts,” she said. “In considering the prospect of offering the service again, we needed to confirm with campus partners that in addition to interest, there would be a commitment to make the most of the learning opportunities Lynda provides.”
“Lynda.com brings equity to our campus’s professional development offerings. There is truly something for everyone, and it gives each of us the ability to chart our own course in developing the skills necessary to advance our careers.”
Staff Assembly's member survey administered in Spring 2018 indicated high interest in bringing back the service, according to President Jeff Porto, Jr., who said Lynda.com was a frequent topic of conversation when board members met with senior leaders. To ensure bases were covered, financial analyst Esther Wilson helped with information gathering and analysis, and Fabiola Elizalde, director of talent, learning and HR services, evaluated the proposal and lobbied for the service’s return based on the facts presented. Pam Taylor, a business officer in ACT — which worked with all parties to facilitate the various moving parts to finalize the contract — said this is what makes UC Merced unique.
“This is a great example of how collaboration across departments can move mountains,” she said. “I don’t think any of us could have executed this initiative alone, and I don’t know that HR, OIT, Procurement and ACT functions at other universities have the ability to work this closely together for the greater good,” Taylor said.
As the manager in charge of professional development programming for the campus, Navarro said this is an exciting time.
“Our employees value the opportunity to grow professionally but each department’s resources and priorities differ,” she said. “Lynda.com brings equity to our campus’s professional development offerings. There is truly something for everyone, and it gives each of us the ability to chart our own course in developing the skills necessary to advance our careers.”
Lynda.com is available to all UC Merced employees, including faculty, student and contract workers. Employees can find out how to sign up for the service on the Human Resources website. For information or assistance in creating a specific learning plan, supervisors and employees can email firstname.lastname@example.org.