Skip to main content

How do you run a world-class research operation like Carolina’s?  Finance and Operations staff understand and appreciate the science and are passionate about the researchers they support. This profile of The Purchasing Services Team is part of a fuller story from F&O’s “On the Go” newsletter, February 2019.

Beyond the Buy

Steve GaleRetired Navy veteran Steve Gale recalls returning from two deployments to a UNC-Chapel Hill Purchasing Services department that was reinventing itself — becoming more structured in how it purchased goods and services to support the university’s growth areas like IT and scientific and medical research.

Gale is part of the University Purchasing team that not only buys equipment and supplies for all schools and departments, but also manages essential maintenance for scientific and medical equipment. The team works with suppliers to ensure that the equipment works as it should so researchers can focus on their work without worrying about equipment breaking down.

“If you’re spending $200,000 on a piece of equipment, you want to guarantee that it operates properly through its life,” Gale explains.

Purchasing Services manages the more than $1 billion spent for goods and services each year by the university’s departments and schools. This support extends to managing the performance of the suppliers of those goods and services – all to sustain and support the university’s research mission.

“We look at the dual mission — education and research,” said Troy Morse, director of Purchasing Services. “Our buyers have specialties depending on the commodity or service being bought. In a single day, we buy everything from grass for a field to AI (artificial intelligence) robots. Because all the contracts run through us, we touch what is happening throughout all of the schools. We are enablers and facilitators to get them what they need to be successful.”

Purchasing’s role often begins well before the product is chosen. During the scientific supplier contract process with Fisher Scientific, Purchasing staff invited the campus research community to be part of an advisory team. This team, formed in advance of the procurement process, held discussions leading up to the request for proposals (RFP) and helped to develop the final contract that would prove so impactful to their day-to-day work.

During the construction of Marsico Hall in 2011, Purchasing staff worked with Biomedical Research Imaging Center faculty and staff to purchase a cyclotron (particle accelerator) which was so large it could only be installed by crane prior to the building being built around it.

“We’re a very strong partner with the research community and we support the research mission‚ — it’s a top priority for me,” said Gale.

Morse agrees: “If I leave at the end of the day and feel like I’ve helped someone move the needle an inch, that’s where I find my biggest reward.”

Read more about our purchasing services team.

Comments are closed.