Primary Duties and Responsibilities - Chair/ Graduate/Postdoctoral

Laura Johnson
 direct administrative support to Chair
 Chair’s schedule and travel coordination
 organization of seminar series activities (arrangements, advertisements, etc.)
 organization of research discussion groups, symposia, etc.
 large research project (P01, P20, P50, U01, etc.) progress reports
 special correspondence, reports and projects

Sheryol Cox
 departmental graduate program activities
 graduate student/alumni database
 departmental student and faculty awards
 comprehensive exam administration
 after hours building access
 department website maintenance

Primary Duties and Responsibilities – Business office

Michael Aungier
 monthly account reconciliation and management
 financial reporting to investigators
 classified/faculty payroll and leave administration
 supervision of office staff
 active/expired account reporting

Brenda Caine
 departmental financial activities and compliance oversight
 sponsored programs proposal development assistance
 human resource and graduate/postdoctoral support administration
 facilities and space management
 special projects and reports for Chair and Dean’s office

April Filips
 travel authorization and reimbursement preparation assistance
 order receipt/electronic payment approval from packing slips
 National Welders/Airgas, Federal Express order & expense management
 sponsored programs proposal development assistance
 package receipt and notification

Beth Horner
 electronic order submission and tracking
 personal reimbursement processing
 package receipt and notification
 hourly payroll

Cheryl Samuels
 monthly account reconciliation and management
 financial reporting to investigators and Chair
 specialized contract establishment and payment monitoring
 electronic order approval
 new employee processing

First, the Basics … Where it All Begins

Placing Orders with Vendors

If you are new to the department, please check with your supervisor for your group’s internal procedures BEFORE making purchases.   A Purchase Order Request Form is available at the department’s website.  Type or neatly print the requested information onto the form and get your supervisor’s budget code and signature (or that of his/her designee). Unless a principal investigator is completing the order form, the same name or signature cannot appear in both the ‘PI signature’ and ‘Ordered by’ fields. Be sure that your supervisor has notified the business office of your authorization to place orders against his or her account. Send your completed order form to and it will be keyed into our electronic ordering system and placed with the vendor.  Please attach any vendor order form (i.e., for radioisotopes, reprints, etc.).  If the vendor is not in the university’s system, there will be a delay in the ordering process, as we will have to contact the vendor for information and have a record created.

Business office personnel can directly place orders up to $10,000 (including all shipping, handling, freight and insurance charges).  In general, we can order lab or office furniture (desks, chairs, bookcases, filing cabinets, etc.) from any vendor, though you should check with our office products vendor (The Supply Room Company) first.  Please check with Cheryl when considering a furniture purchase, to ensure you have appropriate funding (the NIH does not allow the purchase of office furniture with its funds).  If the total value of the furniture purchase (including shipping and delivery) exceeds $10,000, complete a release waiver (available at and include it with your purchase order request to the business office.  Only after Virginia Correctional Enterprises signs and returns the release to us can we begin processing the order.

There are items we must order from a specific vendor (especially equipment), so check VCU’s procurement and payment website ( before ordering.

For an order totaling over $10,000, business office personnel key the information into the procurement system, but the University’s procurement department places the order.  Do not try to split a large order, in an attempt to circumvent the limit.  Complete and submit a purchase order request form, along with four valid vendor quotations (electronic versions, please; include one from a minority-owned vendor and one from a woman-owned vendor, if available). If you will accept the least expensive of the quotes, do nothing else.  However, if you want to deal with a specific vendor and do not wish to consider other vendors (for reasons of compatibility, etc.), submit a completed sole source justification form (on the department website) and the vendor’s quotation with the purchase order request form.  We will forward the information to the procurement department, where it will be assigned to a buyer who may need up to several weeks to obtain all necessary information, state approvals, etc. on large purchases, so factor that into your plans.  The procurement officer is the ONLY person authorized to place the order with the vendor.

Receiving Items and Submitting Packing Slips

Once the items you ordered through VCU’s procurement system have arrived, carefully inspect the contents against the packing slip in the package.   Indicate on the packing slip which items were received, then sign and date the packing slip and bring or fax it to the business or email it to, within 24 hours of receipt of the items.  If the package does not contain a packing slip, please make a copy of your purchase order request form.  Mark which items you received, then sign and date this copy and return it to us.  SUBMISSION OF PACKING SLIPS IS CRITICAL – we cannot approve purchase orders for payment without knowing that items have been received.

If you are returning items, call the vendor for a return authorization number, then notify so a note can be added to the original purchase order form in our file.

Remember: If you return an item for exchange or credit, or if you receive more of an item than you ordered (but decide to keep the extra), you MUST notify the business office.  Please do not hold the packing slip while making a return, etc.

Now, on to the rest of the story …

Administrative Supplies

We order our administrative supplies (copier paper, printer cartridges, pens, notebooks, markers, scheduling boards, etc.) from The Supply Room Companies.  Complete the purchase order request form, as usual, and send your order form to the business office via, and we will key your order on-line.  The vendor will usually deliver your order the day after it is placed.

After Hours Building Access

If you have been authorized for after-hours access to the research buildings we occupy, your VCU ID Card must be specially programmed. Complete an Access Request form (on the department website) and send it to Sheryol Cox, who will submit the request to the campus police for processing.

If you need access to animal facilities, your supervisor must coordinate the approval and programming of your card through the Division of Animal Resources.

Animal Orders

All laboratory animals must be ordered through VCU’s Division of Animal Resources (DAR).  Blank order forms are available in the business office and must be completed and returned to us by 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, for shipments needed the following week.  List your name in the ‘Authorized Name’ field.  Someone in the business office will complete the ‘Signature’ area.  Please keep the pink copy of the form for your lab’s records.  If you are going to take the order form to DAR yourself, be sure to have someone in the business office sign the form first.  DAR will not process forms that do not include a proper departmental signature.

NOTE: Please ensure that the charge code listed on the cage cards for your animals matches the charge code listed on the board sheet for those animals and that the charge code listed is a valid one. This is the responsibility of the user of the animals, not of DAR or the business office.

Budget Codes

Please be sure to use a VALID budget code for all transactions.  Many budget codes are active for one year only, with a new number assigned for each year of a multi-year project.  If in doubt, check with your supervisor or the business office.

Business Meal Reimbursements

With appropriate funds and a completed reimbursement request (on the department website), business-related meal reimbursements can be made up to State-approved limits (within the city of Richmond, currently $11 for breakfast, $16 for lunch and $34 for dinner – including tax and tip).  An itemized receipt is required, as is a listing of who attended, each person’s home institution, and a detailed description of what was discussed and its benefit to VCU.  Alcohol expenses for meals with departmental seminar speakers can be reimbursed, but only with restricted funds (per the School’s guidelines and limited departmental funding).  The reimbursement will be processed through the Chrome River system and, if you are paid through the University’s payroll system, will be in the form of a direct deposit to your bank account.  Those supported through other mechanisms will receive a reimbursement check at the home address on file. Send all materials for a business meal reimbursement to Cheryl.

Please note that we are not allowed to process reimbursements for meals when all attendees are from VCU, so we cannot reimburse for expenses related to a laboratory luncheon, for example.

Campus Bookstores

If you need items from a campus bookstore, use your corporate purchasing card. With the merchandise, you’ll be given a receipt (please ensure that tax is not charged).  Submit the receipt with your completed log sheet (for additional information, please see the section on corporate card charges).

Corporate Card Charges

For those with a University Visa purchasing card, document the purchases you make during each month. The reconciled monthly statement, signed/dated log sheet, and all receipts are due to Brenda within one week of receipt of the statement.  Be sure to indicate whether any of the expenses on the statement should be transferred to a budget code other than the default code for your card.

To apply for a corporate Visa account, complete the application on the university’s procurement website ( and forward it to Brenda.  Note: You will be required to pass an on-line test, coordinated through the procurement office, before a card is issued to you.

Departmental Electronic Distribution Lists

To have your e-mail address added to any of the department’s electronic distribution lists (by which notices are sent), send an e-mail request to  To use a list, address your message to (for example)

deptfac-pmc               all faculty w/ primary appointments in this department

allfac-pmc                   faculty w/ primary or internal affiliate appointments

postdoc-pmc               postdoctoral fellows and associates

students-pmc              graduate students

staff-pmc                    classified and hourly staff

department-pmc         all members (except affiliate faculty)

Disposal of Surplus Property

Equipment items identified with a University asset tag must be disposed of through the surplus property department. If you have those and other items for disposal, get a form from the department website, complete the required sections and send it to the business office.  Someone in our office will add our information and send the form to VCU’s property management group.  The University’s surplus property coordinator will come to your location, verify the items with you, and label them for pick-up.  DO NOT leave items in hallways or common areas until they have been tagged for pick-up.

Employee Identification (eID) and password

Follow instructions at

E-Mail Accounts

New employees should request a VCU email account by sending an email message of request to Brenda.

Equipment Inventory

If you purchase a piece of equipment (cost is $5,000 or more) with your corporate card, complete the appropriate form on the department website and send it to Brenda.  A staff member from the university’s property management group will need to affix an asset tag to the item and note the location of the equipment.  If you move tagged equipment from one room/building to another, please notify Brenda, so the departmental equipment inventory can be updated.

Fabrication/Repair (Ed Dimen) Work Order Requests

If you need Ed’s services (fabrication, repair, etc.), submit your request via the department website.  The information you key onto the form will be sent to Ed via e-mail.  Ed will notify you via e-mail of the status of your order, if additional information is needed, etc.  If he cannot handle the request, he will submit a work request to the facilities management department.

Facilities Management

If you detect a water leak, find your office or lab is too hot or too cold, need paper towels, etc., contact the facilities management service center at x89444 to report the issue.

Fax Machines

Fax machines are available for business use in numerous locations throughout the department.  Be sure to wait for your confirmation page (particularly if you used your long distance authorization code, as it will appear on that page).

Chair’s and Education office: 827-1548 (McGuire Hall, Suite 100)

Business office: 827-0377 (Smith Building, Room 754)

KMSB/MMRB: 828-4794 (MMRB, 3rd floor lobby)

McGuire Hall 3rd floor: 828-1532

Smith 7th floor: 828-2117 (Room 764)

Federal Express

When ready to ship an item via Federal Express, complete a Federal Express tracking request form (on the department website) and contact the business office for a reference number. List the reference number in the airbill field labeled ‘internal billing reference’  If in the Smith Building, complete the airbill and bring it, the completed request form and your package to us.  If in another building, complete the request form, contact us for a reference number for the shipment, complete the airbill and contact Federal Express.  Return the completed order form and top copy of the airbill, via fax or to April’s box.  If you are paying for a colleague, vendor, etc. to send a package to you (via Federal Express), get a reference number from the business office and have the sender list that number on the airbill.

Funding Account Status

Each month, Cheryl and Mike reconcile each budget account managed through the department and generate a report for the principal investigator. Personnel costs are committed through the end of the budget period, as are other known commitments and estimates. Since Cheryl and Mike must verify each charge on each account, the submission of documentation is crucial.

Identification Card (VCU One Card)

Two days after submitting your completed paperwork to the business office, you may obtain a VCU identification card.  The VCU Card office is located in the VMI Building on Marshall Street (open Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm).


Although vendors should send all invoices to accounts payable, it does not always happen.  If you receive a vendor invoice, forward it to immediately.

Laboratory Ethanol

We maintain a small supply of 190 proof and 200 proof laboratory ethanol for laboratory research use. Should your laboratory need ethanol, please complete a request form (available at the department website) and bring it to the business office, between 8:30 am and 2:30 pm daily.  As we are able to store only limited quantities, please keep your request to no more than two bottles of ethanol each month.


Library Services

Submit receipts for copy cards, journal charges, etc. to the business office, via fax or to April’s box.

Long Distance Dialing Authorization

If your supervisor approves of your placing long distance business phone calls for your lab or office, please have him/her notify Brenda (via e-mail) and provide the last 10 digits of your VCU ID card number.  Within a few days, you will receive from Telecommunications a message that a code has been assigned and instructions on how to access it. Do not share this code with anyone or leave it in a place where others may see it.  A code is assigned to a person and must not be used by others in the person’s lab or office group; it’s not a ‘lab number’.  Remember that this code is to be used when making department-related calls only. Use of a long distance authorization code for personal calls is strictly prohibited. The telecommunications office tracks and reports on all phone calls made.

Mail Delivery and Distribution

Departmental mail is delivered to the Smith Building each day and sorted into mailboxes on the 7th floor of the Smith Building.  Mail for those in KMSB/MMRB is delivered to the mail cubicles on the 3rd floor of the MMRB each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Mail for those in the cancer center is directed to the center’s post office box.  Personnel from McGuire Hall deliver mail between that building and the Smith Building.

Media Services

Send receipts for slide production, poster titles, photographs, etc. to the business office, via fax or to

Molecular Biology Supply Center

Submit receipts for items ordered through the center to the business office, via fax or to

National Welders (Airgas) Gases/Cylinders

If you need laboratory gases and cylinders from National Welders, please bring your order form (each lab has a version with the appropriate information already keyed) to the business office or send it to  We will verify the budget code listed and fax the order.

If you need to return a tank, PLEASE BE SURE TO RETURN THE TANK AGAINST THE SAME ACCOUNT FROM WHICH IT WAS ORDERED.  If two labs share tanks, they make alternate paying.  If that’s the case, submit the return of the old tank on one order form (indicating the account from which it was ordered) and the purchase of the new tank on a separate order form.  In this case, the inventory totals by account within the National Welders system will be correct.  When you receive and/or return the items, submit the delivery ticket left with the tank(s), either in person, via fax or via  PLEASE send these delivery tickets to the business office!!

New Employee Processing

On or before the first day of employment, a new employee must see Cheryl to complete required steps for employment verification and background check.  Those who will conduct animal research must be fingerprinted by the VCU Police and we must have approval from that office BEFORE the employee can be on site and working.  We cannot make an employee’s position effective – or pay the person – any earlier than the day on which he or she finishes these steps.

Offsite Use of University Property

If you use any piece of university property (computer, monitor, etc.) for VCU work at home, complete an Offsite Equipment Use form, available on the department website, and send it to Brenda.

On-campus parking

Visit the VCU Parking and Transportation office, in the 8th Street Parking Deck (see office’s website at

Outside Professional Activities (faculty)

The School and University encourage faculty members to engage in professional activities outside of their standard duties and responsibilities, if ‘1) the activities contribute to individual growth, extend knowledge, or advance the mission of the university; and, 2) the activities do not interfere with a faculty member’s university duties and responsibilities. In addition, outside professional activities are typically conducted off-campus and do not use University facilities and resources in ways that interfere with its programs of education, scholarly activity, and health care.’  Examples of approved outside professional activity include presenting papers at professional meetings, participating in continuing education short courses, serving as an officer or on a committee for an academic or professional society, and serving on governmental study sections.  Faculty must report these activities, under the guidelines available at

Payroll/Leave Reporting

Most classified and all hourly/student workers must account for their hours through the RealTime system (available through the HR home page).  Faculty members and exempt classified employees must use the RealTime system to report their leave time taken.

Postdoctoral associates and fellows do not submit timesheets.  Postdoctoral, hourly and student personnel do NOT accrue leave time.

Postdoctoral fellows on training grants receive a stipend through the accounts payable system, with direct deposit available. No timesheets are required of postdoctoral associates/fellows or graduate students.

Personal (non-meal) Reimbursements

University guidelines prohibit us from processing personal reimbursements for office supplies, computers, software, lab supplies or printing services.  Purchases should be made by purchase order or corporate purchasing card.  Meeting registration fees are reimbursable, but are included in the travel reimbursement process.

Radioisotope Orders

Complete a radioisotope order form (see Radiation Safety’s website) and send it to the business office.  We will verify the index number and send the form to Radiation Safety for processing.  That office is the only one authorized to place these orders.  Be sure to forward the packing slip to the business office.


All employee recruitment and hiring is coordinated through Brenda.  Faculty recruitments must be approved through our dean and vice president then advertised nationally.  Classified slots must be authorized, created and advertised through VCU’s Human Resources department.  Forms and instructions for new employees are available in the business office.

Room Keys

Send an e-mail message to Brenda, with the room number, number of copies needed, current occupant (if any), and justification for the copies.  She will submit a work order to the facilities management department.  Remember – as an employee leaves the department, he/she should return all room keys to Brenda, not to others in the lab or office group or to the PI.

Room Scheduling

For rooms needed for courses, seminars, or special events, contact Sheryol Cox.  Please use the calendars posted outside the conference rooms in McGuire room 100, 332 and MMRB 3-031 for use of that space.

Separation Guidelines

Classified and faculty employees leaving the university should coordinate payout or transfer of their benefits with the university’s Human Resources department.  All employees are now required to complete the appropriate separation form before leaving the university.  Available at the department website are two versions of the form.  One is for faculty and classified staff and the other for non-benefited employees (hourly, postdoctoral associates, graduate students.

Sponsored Funding Proposals

April and Brenda provide assistance to investigators preparing funding proposals.

The investigator should create the record in RAMS-SPOT and complete the Smart Form section of the proposal, then send an internal budget spreadsheet to Brenda.  She or April will complete the budget in RAMS-SPOT and create the SF424 form.  After the investigator has uploaded all required documents into the SF424 section, April or Brenda will review the entire proposal before the investigator routes it for internal review.  Please allow at least two days for business office review. Review will then continue, through the dean’s office and Sponsored Programs office.  Personnel in those offices will contact the investigator if there are questions.  As three different offices review each application, be sure to allow sufficient time for processing before the deadline for submission to the sponsor.

Telecommunications Work Orders

If you need telecommunications work done (new line installed, etc.), please notify Brenda (via e-mail) of the details.  For telephone problems, please contact Telecommunications directly, at x82227.

Travel Authorizations (Pre-Approvals)

As soon as you know you will be traveling for a business-related meeting, training, etc., complete a travel pre-approval request form, through the University’s travel management system, Chrome River (link and detailed information are available at  The pre-approval form is necessary for three reasons: 1) it gives you permission to travel; 2) it allows for an estimation of costs for the trip; and 3) most importantly, it ensures you are covered by University insurance while you travel on University-related business.   In general, submit your completed pre-approval via Chrome River at least two weeks in advance of your trip.  For large meetings (i.e., CPDD, SOT, etc.), which may require approval at additional offices, we’ll need your completed pre-approval at least three weeks in advance.  If your travel takes you outside the contiguous US, submit the pre-approval at least one month in advance.

VCU requires the use of a contract vendor, Christopherson Travel, for booking air and train reservations.  Travelers will not be reimbursed for arrangements made personally or through another travel vendor.  To begin the pre-approval process, search the Christopherson website ( to get flight/train schedules and prices – but do not book the fare.  Using that information, complete the pre-approval (don’t forget estimates for meals at approved levels – see the VCU travel site listed above, baggage fees, taxi fares, rental cars, etc.), and submit it via Chrome River.  Subtract from the per diem the equivalent of all meals provided by the sponsor as part of the registration fee.  If you will receive a travel award from the meeting sponsor, please indicate so and the amount on your pre-approval.  Please delegate access to your travel records within Chrome River to Brenda, April, and Cheryl, so that we will be able to modify your records and assist you as needed.

We will review your pre-approval and let you know if any revisions are needed.  If the traveler is not the PI, we will forward the pre-approval to him or her for review and approval of the anticipated costs.  Once your pre-approval is approved through the Chrome River system, contact Christopherson Travel and book the reservation, using the 12-digit number that will have been assigned to the record.  The cost for the fare will be billed directly against the index number(s) noted in the pre-approval.  Once booked, please forward a copy of your confirmed itinerary to

Before you travel, carefully review the limits on daily expenses. REMEMBER TO KEEP ALL RECEIPTS FROM YOUR TRIP.

You may have some of your expenses pre-paid by the University (e.g., meeting registration), to lower your out-of-pocket expenses. Bill these to your corporate purchasing card or submit a Purchase Order Request form and documentation to and we will arrange for the University to issue payment to the vendor.

No Cost Travel:  If you will not be billing any expenses against a VCU index (i.e., if a meeting sponsor is directly covering your expenses), please complete and submit a pre-approval (via Chrome River) showing $0 costs. Choose an index number of yours or your PI’s to complete the pre-approval. 

Travel Reimbursements

Within three days of your return, print your pre-approval and mark needed changes based on actual expenses.  Send the modified pre-approval page and all receipts to April.  Note: Your hotel bill must show a zero balance on checkout and must show daily entries for room and tax charges, as well as the name on the credit card used.  April will verify or update amounts then prepare the reimbursement request within Chrome River.  You will get an email message from the system indicating you must approve the reimbursement.  Please do so as soon as possible, so that we may submit the materials for reimbursement.

In most cases, the amount to which you are entitled will be issued to you through a direct deposit into your bank account (usually in only a few days after accounts payable receives your reimbursement request via Chrome River).  PLEASE NOTE:  accounts payable will process travel reimbursements only if submitted to that office within 60 days of the traveler’s return from the trip.  To meet this schedule, we must receive the reimbursement record and all appropriate receipts within 45 days of the traveler’s return.

Tuition Waiver

Full-time classified and faculty employees may take up to six credits of coursework at VCU each semester at no cost.  Employees may take courses that are not work-related, but must schedule those outside of normal working hours.  The employee must pass the course or repay the university.  A tuition waiver form is available through the department website.  Classified employees must get a supervisor’s signature somewhere on the form, if the course takes place during working hours.  In any case, the employee should bring the completed form to me for a departmental signature.


Guidelines for having volunteers in your laboratory are available at the department website.  Contact Cheryl with any questions you have.

Business Office Bins

Along the wall on the left side of room 754, you’ll find a bin for each person in the office.  We also have a bin containing a supply of DAR order forms, one for mail to departmental members in other buildings, and one for mail going to the Dean’s or VP’s office.

REMEMBER:  If you create or get any type of document referencing an account code in this department, please send it to the business office (packing slip, gas cylinder delivery ticket, library services slip, pharmacy ticket, physical plant work order, faculty workshop receipt, telecommunications work order, office supply receipts, etc.).