Concurrent Session IX:
COVID-19 Panel Session

Ruth Johnston, Jon Giacomi, Brad Wells, Lupe Valencia

Wednesday, May 26
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM HST
12:45 PM – 1:45 PM PDT
12:45 PM – 1:45 PM MST

 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM MDT


CPE Credits: 1.2

Business Management & Organization

Program Knowledge: 

Session Description

2020 threw a curve ball year for all facets of society and in our work and personal lives. We had to adapt to living through a pandemic and adjust our University planning, operations, budgets, and even missions to deal with one of the most challenging experiences in our lifetime. Universities and academic medical centers played a key role in the crisis. Learn how university leaders are dealing with different aspects of COVID-19: strategic planning, budget issues, emergency response, remote learning, managing our workforce and student experience remotely, decision-making support, and communications. 

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn about different university emergency response and management issues, approaches, and problem-solving due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Learn about strategic planning for education and research related to university recovery from the pandemic
  3. Learn about university leadership approaches for emergency management and recovery

About the Speakers

 Ruth Johnston Photo

Ruth Johnston
Vice Chancellor
New Mexico State University

Ruth Johnston serves as NMSU system Vice Chancellor to help set system-wide strategy, drive operational effectiveness and continuous improvement, while creating a climate of accountability. Ruth oversees Human Resources, Audit Services, Environmental Health & Safety and Risk Management, Real Estate and Water Resources, and Data Security. Prior to this role, Ruth served as vice chancellor for University of Washington (UW) Bothell Planning & Administration where she provided leadership for administrative, financial, facilities, IT, human resource operations and governmental & community relations. Prior to UW Bothell, Johnston spent most of her career at the University of Washington Seattle in leadership roles across the institution. Johnston holds a doctorate in organizational development and higher education, a master’s degree in human relations and a bachelor’s in counseling psychology. Ruth serves as president on the Western Association of College & University Business Officers board of directors and the board of the National Association of College & University Business Officers. She teaches a variety of classes and workshops, and has consulted with higher education institutions, associations and some federal agencies.

 Jon Giacomi Photo

Jon Giacomi
Assistant Vice Chancellor
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Jon Giacomi is the Assistant Vice Chancellor at UCSF in the department of Facilities Services. Jon brings over 35 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge as a senior executive with higher education credentials, strong leadership, management and finance skills. Jon oversees over 500 employees in a facilities organization with an operating budget of $92 million and annual capital funds of $45 million. Jon’s portfolio includes infrastructure renewal programs, utilities, energy, engineering, sustainability and conservation programs, trades, landscape, waste reduction/recycling, fire/life/safety systems, security and access control, emergency response, and custodial services. Most recently, Jon was appointed as the UCSF COVID-19 Recovery Director in May 2020 to advise the Chancellor’s Executive Team on campus capacity management, on-campus research and education planning, and issues of COVID-19 prevention and safety in the workplace. Jon also serves as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility advisor for the 2,000 FTE division of UCSF Finance and Administration.

 Brad Wells Photo

Brad Wells
Associate Vice Chancellor, Business and Finance for the Office of the Chancellor
California State University

Brad Wells is the Associate Vice Chancellor, Business and Finance for the Office of the Chancellor of the California State University. He has served as a campus chief financial officer, as senior vice president of development for a real estate development company, and the chief financial officer of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles. Brad presently serves on a cross-functional leadership team that assists the 23 campuses of the California State University system in planning for ongoing challenges related to the pandemic.

Lupe Valencia Photo


Lupe Valencia
Associate Vice President for Business Affairs
The University of Texas at El Paso

Guadalupe Valencia-Skanes supports The University of Texas at El Paso’s strategic and fiscal planning in her role as Associate Vice President for Business Affairs. Those responsibilities include governmental relations and organizational development to ensure fiscal resources properly align with the institution’s mission and vision.

Valencia-Skanes returned to UTEP in 2019 after several decades as an accounting executive at academic
institutions across the United States to include the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Arizona and, most recently, the University of Washington. She began her financial management career at UTEP as a student employee.

The El Paso native is a two-time graduate of the University. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration with concentrations in accounting. She also is a Certified Government Financial Manager.

Valencia-Skanes is a Western Association of College and University Business Officers (WACUBO) faculty
member and holds several committee appointments to include the Comprehensive/Doctoral Institutions
and Research Institutions Committee and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She recently was
elected as third vice president of WACUBO. Additionally, she serves on the board of the El Paso Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants.

The UTEP administrator also has served the University as its Interim Vice President for Information
Resources. During that time, she led a successful evaluation of the organization’s structure.