Office of the Chancellor

Ronald Cortez, CFO and Vice Chancellor, Division of Finance and Administration

Oct. 7, 2021

Ronald Cortez, chief financial officer and vice chancellor for the Division of Finance and Administration, has informed me that he plans to step down from UCI, effective December 5, 2021, to become under secretary of administration at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Ron has been a key partner in achieving the university’s ambitious strategic vision for growth by ensuring our overall financial strength and developing new models of financial sustainability for UCI.

Ron joined UCI in February 2017 as vice chancellor for administrative & business services. One year later he assumed his current position, combining the former offices of administration and planning & budget, in which role he is responsible for managing our $3.5 billion operating budget and our $3 billion capital expenditure budget, ensuring the appropriate allocation of public and private resources to meet our strategic objectives.

Among the notable highlights of Ron’s tenure as vice chancellor are: creation of a financial strategy to successfully navigate the pandemic, thus enabling UCI to maintain full employment; development of the financial and construction aspects of the UCI Medical Center Irvine and the expansion of our Health Sciences campus; putting in place a first-class DFA team; creation of new financial models for two affordable housing options on campus; establishment of a five-year financial plan; and improvement of customer service throughout the division. He served on the UC Presidential Task Force on University-wide Policing, which examined all aspects of campus police practices; as chair of the UC Retirement System Advisory Board; and as a director of Fiat Lux Risk and Insurance Company, UC’s internal insurance company. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to UCI, in 2020 Ron was honored with the Orange County Business Journal’s CFO of the Year Award in the not-for-profit category.

In his new role as under secretary for administration, Cortez will be responsible for the Smithsonian’s management and operations functions supporting the Smithsonian’s 21 museums, including the two new museums in development – the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum – as well as the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, and multiple cultural centers and libraries. He will oversee more than 2,000 employees specializing in human and financial resources; information technology; procurement; planning; facilities operations, maintenance and capital programs; health and safety; security; and more.

Ron Cortez is an innovative financial executive, a talented leader, and a valued campus collaborator. I know all of you join me in thanking him for his years of service to UCI and wishing him every success at the Smithsonian Institution. We will soon undertake a national search for his successor.

Chancellor Howard Gillman