UVAFinance Team focuses on Expanding Opportunities, Not Risk

One of the last places on Grounds you may expect to find UVAFinance team members is at the Radioactive Safety Committee meeting, but that is just where you can find Gretchen Kriebel, Director of Property and Liability Risk Management.

Kriebel and Kristin Dinwiddie, senior manager of Risk Control, are often involved in working groups and committees, such as the Radioactive Safety Committee, across Grounds so they can proactively stay engaged in activities and help groups mitigate risks in their work. 

UVAFinance’s Property and Liability Risk Management identifies, eliminates, and reduces the conditions and practices which cause financial loss and cause unnecessary risk. The team maintains a comprehensive risk financing program to protect the University against losses that could impede its academic mission.

With inherent risks in any large academic, research, or outreach program, the University involves UVAFinance in decision-making.  When a significant risk is identified, Kriebel and the Property and Liability Risk Management team aim to find a solution rather than thwarting an initiative. 

Aside from Kriebel and Dinwiddie, the team includes Miranda Bransom, who as the Administrative Assistant keeps the team on track and manages the insurance portfolio premium payments and recoveries. This is not limited to July when the fiscal year begins. The University purchases property year-round and it must be cataloged and paid for with precision. Cameron Beasley provides data and reporting to both Risk Management and Treasury, which Risk Management uses for managing its self-insured retention, claims data, and dashboard reports. In September 2022, Todd Hite joined Risk from outside UVA, as a Claims Adjuster, and is responsible for insurance claim intake, investigating, negotiating, and settling claims for the University.

“Nothing is risk-free, but we have strategies for reducing risk and transferring it outside of the University,” Kriebel says. 

“Being involved in University committees gives us an opportunity to learn about and review specific activities and we review them because, in a lot of instances, we can see some areas of risk that the University program may not immediately realize.”

“We work a lot with International Studies and review how specific trips or programs could affect safety, health, or security,” Kriebel shares. 

“For instance, a student program wanted to be involved in some exciting work that was just outside of a war zone. While outside of the immediate area of danger, security, flights, and infrastructure in the neighboring country were going to be potentially affected.”

When a significant risk is identified, Kriebel and the team aim to find a solution rather than thwarting an initiative.

“Often, programs worry that we’ll just say ‘no’ but we don’t – we just find a different way and engage the University programs as our partners in that,” she says.

If travel to a specific country is deemed a safety risk, Kriebel and Dinwiddie work with faculty and students to determine how academic and outreach goals can be achieved in another region or how specific activities can be altered to decrease risk.

“Students have great ideas, and we never want to dampen their enthusiasm,” Kriebel shares. 

“We partner to help develop solutions, alternate plans that meet the same goals, and provide the logistical support such as the liability paperwork needed to ensure we are good stewards of our university resources and protect all involved.”

When students aimed to have dogs as part of an event on Grounds, Kriebel and the team identified potential risks involved. Animals are fun to be around but there is a lot of unpredictability associated with pets that may not be caught up on their vaccinations or may have behavioral issues interacting with students and community members. Instead of canceling the event, Kriebel suggested partnering with the ASCPA, allowing animal experts to manage the pets ensuring that those animals with updated vaccinations participated. Additionally, the ASPCA-trained volunteers could manage the pets’ potential behavioral issues and choose those best suited for the activity.

“It also gave the students the opportunity to partner with a nonprofit and potentially get some of the shelter dogs adopted,” Kriebel says. “There is a lot of potential in acknowledging risks and then coming up with alternatives.”

The team not only identifies physical and financial risks but reputational ones as well. Keeping the University’s risk lowered provides the institution to continue succeeding and recruiting the best students, faculty, and staff.

Learn more about risk management and the associated policies and procedures here: uvafinance.virginia.edu.