Posted by: Andrea Alexander | June 23, 2013

No Small Task: Keeping Integration on Track and Within Budget

Judy Zenowich, executive project manager, Biomedical and Health Sciences

Judy Zenowich, executive project manager, Biomedical and Health Sciences

A year ago, when Judy Zenowich came across the job posting for an executive project manager to oversee the nuts and bolts of Rutgers’ integration with UMDNJ, she just had to apply.

“My skills and experience were completely in sync with what had to get done,” said Zenowich, who, at the time, was the director of development at Rutgers’ School of Social Work.

Zenowich had spent 30 years in the financial services industry helping to steer mergers involving some of the top names in investment banking firms. She left that world to support and care for several family members facing serious illness, and, later, made a career transition to fundraising.

Since Zenowich came on board last summer, reporting to Christopher Molloy, interim provost for Biomedical and Health Sciences, she has been the glue to ensure that the hundreds of moving pieces come together by July 1. With the help of university consultants, deans, administrators and faculty from Rutgers and UMDNJ, she hashes out large and small issues of the historic restructuring – from renegotiating research contracts and crafting academic policies to deciding how much employees should be reimbursed for mileage and where students should park.

Zenowich also approves and tracks expenditures with a stern eye on the university’s $75 million, three-year integration budget. “I won’t approve frivolous expenses. No breakfast or lunch gatherings,” she says. “If you want food at your meeting, bring it from home.”

She admits she’s had some early morning waking, wondering if it could all get done. “I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something so big and complex,” she said.

There are moments when she feels like she’s dealing with a giant Rubik’s cube.  But, she stresses, the issues seem to get resolved, a tribute to the spirit of cooperation and the “incredibly talented, bright, articulate people both at Rutgers and UMNDJ.”  She said the work of 12 functional teams — who meet regularly with their sub-teams to identify issues, establish work plans and make crucial decisions — has been indispensible.

What’s next? Zenowich isn’t certain, though her work on the integration will probably extend into the next fiscal year.  “I keep my eye on the goal. What is I see is this very impressive knitting together of a biomedical and health enterprise along with all the other tremendous things Rutgers offers.”

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