Aug. 29-Sept. 12, 2003
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For Dom Starsia, the summer of his content

ACC looks beyond athletics with Traveling Scholars Program

‘A great ride’ comes to a smooth landing
Reynolds puts love of numbers to work for University
New orthopaedic surgery chair focuses on today’s broken bones, tomorrow’s new legs
Breast Care Center offers high-tech health, warm environment
Appalachian clinic draws record crowd
Positive spin keeps wheels turning at Parking & Transportation
Bus schedule, escort changes enhance safety
Visa problems take toll on international students
Summer session office losing longtime leader
From bugs to satellites: A symposium on the limits of landscape
McCormick Observatory offers ‘Mars Mania’
All moved in
Pluses and minuses fill balance sheet of Luckson Hove’s life
Transfer students get early start at building community
Reynolds puts love of numbers to work for University
Yoke San Reynolds
Photo by Ian Bradshaw
Yoke San Reynolds has tackled some of U.Va.’s thorniest problems since joining the University in 2001, including implementation of Oracle and leading the U.Va. team in negotiating indirect cost rates for research contracts.

By Matt Kelly

For Yoke San Reynolds, numbers and mathematics help define ideas and concepts.

“It’s like a whole language,” she said. “If you’re comfortable with the grammar and the vocabulary, you can have a lot of fun with it.”

What’s fun for her is a benefit to the University.

Reynolds, vice president for finance, has tackled some of the University’s thorniest problems since starting in 2001. Overseeing U.Va.’s business and financial operations, she has been deeply involved in the implementation of Oracle, a financial and human resources planning system, and led the U.Va. team in negotiating indirect cost rates for research contracts.

Now she faces other issues, such as University housing policy, financial aid and workforce diversity.

“This is a good time to look at our housing vision,” she said, noting that first-year dorms, built in the 1960s and 1970s, need to be either renovated or replaced.

And changing times and tuition affect financial aid.

“We have not had a very sophisticated model for projecting financial aid requirements. Part of that is because for so many years the tuition has been controlled by the state, and the financial aid is an end result of that,” she said. “But now, looking ahead with greater flexibility in setting our own tuition, I think there will be major challenges and opportunities in financial aid.”

She has also been working with Senior Vice President for Development and Public Affairs Robert D. Sweeney, Vice President and Provost Gene Block and Chief Human Resource Officer Thomas E. Gausvik on workforce diversity.

“Supervisors need to know how to deal with employees in a sensitive way, not just in terms of racial issues, but like the golden rule,” said Reynolds, who wants supervisory training to include conflict management, mentoring and promoting from within. “We need to identify employees we could advance.”

Reynolds has been an extraordinary addition to the leadership team of the University, Sweeney said.

“She adds a high level of competence, as well as a quiet elegance, to everything that she does,” said Sweeney. “In my area, we have come to count on Yoke San’s counsel on University-affiliated foundations, sponsored research and financing the development efforts.”

To escape work stress, Reynolds plays classical and jazz piano.

“I can experiment with different ways of expressing myself through the music, focus on specific passages that I want to master but also try to frame the whole piece,” she said.

Also accomplished in the kitchen, she specializes in Southeast Asian and Northern Italian cuisines.

Reynolds found the philosophy behind Northern Italian cooking — “simple preparations that do not mask the natural flavors of fresh ingredients” — similar to Southeast Asian cooking.

Raised in Singapore, Reynolds earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at the National University of Singapore then attended the University of Michigan for her master’s degree in economics.

At Michigan, Reynolds met her husband, Bruce, currently an economics professor at U.Va., who introduced her to wilderness camping.

“I love being out in nature,” she said. “You realize when you go on a canoe trip that you can’t control nature. In the wilderness, you have to plan your life around nature.”

From Michigan, the Reynoldses moved to Schenectady, N.Y., where he took a teaching post at Union College. They started their family, and as the children, Katherine and Christopher, grew older, she entered the workforce, eventually becoming a deputy controller for the federal government.

In 1981, Bruce Reynolds took a sabbatical and the family spent a year in China. Yoke San got to venture to her ancestral homeland for the first and only time.

“I had an idealized vision of what I would find,” she said. “I expected that people had a reasonable chance at a good life, because the old feudal system was gone. That was true to a certain extent, but I found there was a new feudal system, based on political power instead of land-owning power.”

After leaving China, Reynolds got a master’s degree in business from State University of New York at Albany, then became a certified public accountant.

Returning to SUNY Albany as the assistant to the vice president for finance and business, she was given the task of straightening out a computerized student accounts system. She was told it would take three years to correct the problems; she did it in three months.

After six years at SUNY in three different financial positions, Reynolds became controller for Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. She dove into negotiating indirect cost recovery rates for federal research contracts already five years in arrears. In her 10 years at Cornell, she negotiated 18 years of rates for the university and worked her way up to vice president.

Though not looking for a challenge, one came to her. She was approached about the newly created post at U.Va.

While Reynolds was impressed with U.Va. and intrigued by the possibilities of the position, she declined, only agreeing to an interview after being pressed twice by a professional recruiting firm. Her dealings with Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, convinced her.

“He answered me directly and sincerely,” she said of her interview. “I said I was looking for a boss with integrity, not just integrity in business transactions, but personal integrity, somebody who is not working toward a personal agenda.”
She said Sandridge has a strong reputation for leadership.

“You can accomplish much more when a university has strong leadership,” she said. V


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