This week I was fortunate to be invited to meet with the Positive Youth Development (PYD) Program Team and chat about the function of program teams. I heard what I have heard before; that is, there are too many meetings. What was perhaps different in this conversation was that the group had spent some time during the planning stage of the meeting developing an agenda that created value and purpose for the meeting. They held a poster session as a means of exchanging not only updates but ideas that might springboard into programming down the road. We all have too many meetings and the ones we would like to rid ourselves of are those we don't find value in. I applaud this group for seeking the value and I suspect that, as they continue down this path of really focusing on developing a valuable meeting, for some of them it might become one of the meetings they look forward to most.
As I write this it has me thinking about a lab meeting I held last week while I was in Michigan. I really couldn't spare the time and we've been meeting for the last year via Zoom just fine but because I was in town, we met in person which usually means a longer meeting. The nature of the meetings has certainly changed over the last year as we've been transitioning out of projects and into new careers. One of my grad students and a technician are each giving 5 minute poster presentations today at the Michigan Cattleman's summer tour. That same technician also had an interview yesterday for a new position. So last week's meeting focused on those items by having practice presentations and a mock interview. After 2 hours in the meeting I walked away thinking that was time very well spent. The content of the 5 minute presentations changed quite a bit and I think my technician was better prepared for the interview even if the questions we practiced weren't asked. We all gained from the experience, even the graduate student not presenting and not interviewing for this particular position. I gained from it as well because they are a reflection of my abilities and standards. I have no doubt the poster presentations will be a success (they are in a few hours) and I already heard yesterday from the chair of the search committee that my technician is the top candidate. We all got out of the meeting what we were willing to put into it.
Mark Bell and I met with the UC Berkeley CE Specialists on Wednesday. The weather was so much nicer than Davis this week! Among other things, the topic of program teams came up there as well. Jennifer Sowerine has obviously given this some thought as she articulated a role for program teams as: professional development, shared learning space, networking. She wasn't in attendance at the PYD meeting the day before but there are clearly some common themes emerging as these discussions take place. I suspect these functions may have been part of the thought process in developing the program team model. I also suspect that formation of program teams were the result of reduced funding available to fund work groups directly. That funding remains elusive so while there are opportunities for changes to the model and/or alignment of work groups under program teams, the resources to go back aren't buried somewhere just waiting to be dug up. We have to charge forward with what we have and optimize its use.
Vernard Lewis attended the CE Specialist meeting at UC Berkeley. He is winding down his official career but, like so many others, plans to remain engaged with UCB and UC ANR. Congratulations to everyone who is looking towards the next chapter! While it is easy for those remaining to get caught up in what we are losing, we are all so grateful for the contributions of our colleagues and friends and wish you the very best in the future. As I think about all my yet unopened boxes that the movers delivered my advice is to pack everything so as to not leave it for the next person but only move the memories; it will make unpacking so much easier.
Tomorrow I celebrate completing my first year at UC ANR. I'm not sure of the appropriate means of celebrating such an event but I decided to kick back with my customary beverage of choice and reflect on what we (the very big ‘we') have accomplished. It's quite a list and certainly explains why time went by so fast, which is a bit of a relief because I feared it was aging that made time fly. I can take little credit for the accomplishments but after all, UC ANR isn't about one or even several people; it's about that collective ‘we'.
Just under a month from start date, UC ANR had its first annual review with President Napolitano (July 18, 2016 – I don't even have to check a calendar to confirm). Out of that meeting came the charge to develop a 5-year strategic plan, by December no less. That suited me just fine because it would help connect the dots under a single framework.
The strategic plan validated things already agreed upon as needed but not yet completed, such as staff and advisor equity increases, fund development plans with targets established, and a concerted effort to enhance volunteer management skills. Other items underway include training opportunities for effective delivery of information in a virtual world and managing combined administrative and academic responsibilities. We are also taking a hard look at the needs of new academics and how we can better help them settle into UC ANR and set a path for a long, successful and rewarding career. The presence of the strategic plan has motivated many to make things happen that otherwise might not, despite good intentions. I suspect that's what makes such planning and commitment of the plan to writing a good business practice.
Over the year, UC ANR has looked for ways to improve administrative efficiencies in order to shift more dollars towards programming. There's much more to be done. At the same time, there is a commitment to connecting individuals, programmatic units, and the strategic initiatives and enhancing interaction amongst all of these; Mark Bell is the right person to do this and with the position, the time needed to achieve is carved out. Similarly, we need to continue to integrate administrative units so that we are all headed in the same direction and working together.
We have built partnerships, including identification of new partners that will translate to more people aware of the UC ANR brand and promise and more boots on the ground (the academic footprint) while at the same time strengthening partnerships that are core to who we are.
I've been part of many discussions about resiliency and how to shield the important work we do from future uncertainties. Hence, steps identified above have been taken coupled by other efforts to foster creativity and entrepreneurial activity while at the same time positioning ourselves to be ahead when new issues emerge. Ultimately, the goal is to never have to know what a crisis actually ‘cost' because we were able to just continue on our path.
I think it was fitting that I was able to end my first year reviewing the merit and promotion packages last week. I commented to a couple of people earlier today and will repeat here, that the week highlighted for me the caliber of people in UC ANR. The bar is certainly higher here than anywhere else I have been and I continue to be amazed at how far above the bar people are able to go. If any organization can impact, positively, the lives of 40 million Californians, it is UC ANR.
I look back in order to better see forward. But with all there is to do, there's not much time for reflection. So it's back to work to prepare for whatever tomorrow brings. I hope that by the time my second anniversary rolls around I have at least finished unpacking. But time does fly.
Here we are to Thursday and this is my first post for the week. I continue to work my way through reviewing the merit and promotion packages – some really good stuff in the dossiers! We seem to have a large number of last names beginning with ‘D','M', and ‘S'. Not as many ‘R's' as I would have expected. While the reviews seem to take, on average, about 60 min each it's a great way for me to learn what everyone is doing. I still have a goal of getting to every county office at least once every other year, but, until I make my way around the state at least once, these dossiers are helping me get to know everyone. Though truth be told, I really thought I would be more familiar with everyone's work and know the name and program area of every advisor by now. When I left high school, knowing at least the name and something about all 750 of my classmates, I assumed I would do the same at Cornell. I'd say I eventually knew everyone in my major but perhaps my goal of knowing everyone in my graduating class was a bit ambitious. And perhaps my current goals are a bit ambitious, but given the importance of individuals to UC ANR, I'd say it's a worthy aspiration. So if I haven't been to your county yet, please give Kathryn Stein a call and she will work on arranging a visit to you and some neighboring counties. Scheduling fall visits to the campuses is underway right now so it's a good time to fill the calendar.
Next week is my 1 year anniversary! Despite DMV's best efforts I do now have a CA driver's license and am now eligible for all the benefits of living in California. My anniversary falls on the same day as the Town Hall webinar to update everyone on plans and processes for Goal 5 of the strategic plan:
- Tuesday, June 20, 2017, from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
- Join by Zoom at https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/369866693
- Join audio by phone at +1 408 638 0968 | Meeting ID: 369 866 693
Following, there will be a series of information sessions held around the state. These meetings aren't just for academics – everyone is encouraged to attend but please register so there is an accurate head count and sufficient chairs. The webinar next week will be just an hour long with very brief Q&A. The information sessions, however, will include open conversation time after lunch with Mark Bell and I. As busy as summer is, I hope we have a good turn out and insightful conversation at the information sessions.
We will share the Public Value Statements in their current form during the information sessions. But here's a preview. Note I have done some minor wordsmithing from what the groups actually developed, not changing intent but phrasing them consistently. We will work on these more at the workshop in late August for program team, strategic initiative, institute, and statewide program leaders.
UC ANR Public Value Statements – as of June 15, 2017
- UC ANR helps enable Californians to pride themselves on a culture of innovation and willingness to adapt
- UC ANR contributes to sufficient, safe, healthy food for all Californians
- UC ANR Contributes to safe and healthy environments
- UC ANR develops a qualified workforce for California
- UC ANR ensures a safe and healthy California for all people and communities
- UC ANR helps meet California's climate goals and build communities resilient to extreme weather
- UC ANR contributes to reduced racial and ethnic inequality
I ended up having to wash my car the traditional way. But what was surprising was a conversation I heard that revolved around the challenges that small bit of rain we had would create for farmers. I still haven't fully acclimated to the climatic differences between my new home and past venues. Sure, when Florida received 8 inches of rain over the course of a business day there were challenges (i.e. sinkholes) but who would have thought that in other locations an hour of light rain might wreak havoc.
I've started into reviewing 73 merit and promotion packages and while the time commitment to thoroughly review is a bit daunting, it is so rewarding and impressive to read about the accomplishments of the UC ANR academics! No doubt I would be violating confidentiality policies to share anything specific but I wish there were some mechanism for all of us to readily see just how much cool stuff happens across the division. You've probably seen for yourself that there are amazing people in UC ANR accomplishing incredible things; demonstrating leadership and commitment.
Speaking of cool things, as I flew over Tahoe this morning I recalled seeing some of Joni Rippee's photos from last weekend when she flew in a C17 Globemaster III to observe a refueling exercise. It was part of a ‘Bosslift' event at Travis AFB with SMSgt Michelle Hammer Coffer (a reserve mechanic). Thanks to Michelle for her service and to Joni for supporting Michelle in her work!
I think we've wrapped up the regular budget call meetings for the new fiscal year. Jennifer and Yuhang spent a ton of time with unit directors preparing requests and keeping everything straight as versions worked their way through the various review groups. This was my first time through such an intensive review process for making budgetary decisions. Now Jennifer's team has the task of preparing all of the letters. Given fiscal close is upon us, it will take considerable effort on their part to get letters out in early July. I suspect the only way to move letters earlier next year would be to advance the submission deadline into January; an option for sure but regardless of when it is, there's always many other things on everyone's to-do list making no timeline ideal.
I've got to get working on the Town Hall webinar presentation in between merit and promotion packages and a several meetings next week. It seems like I haven't been out in counties too much lately; need to get back to that and see what might fit into the summer calendar.
I hope everyone's got plans for some R&R this summer, now that it is about to feel like summer again!
Time just flies by – and I seem to get further and further behind on things, despite my best efforts! Sound familiar? I consider myself proficient in time use but am always open to ideas how to become more efficient in accomplishing tasks. If anyone has some tips, I would love to hear them.
At Program Council this week we had a presentation from Brad Hanson about the Research and Information Centers. After almost a year at UC ANR, I have only recently been exposed to these information hubs. What a great platform to pull together expertise across UC ANR (multi-campus, multi-county, UCCE, AES) and lead delivery of on-demand, science-based information to clients everywhere. I'm looking forward to some plane time so that I can dig into the 2016 annual report Brad provided and learn more about the reach and impact of the RICs. The discussion hit on topics that are likely pervasive throughout UC ANR; that is, keeping content current, resource allocation to manage content, and making information easy to find. At the end of the day it's all about the end-user – determining how best to make it easy for that end-user to find trusted information and tools that translates to making a difference. And the greater our reach, the bigger the difference we can make. Efficiency is at least a piece of the equation. Competition doesn't have to be.
Program Council discussed the differences between academics with and without equivalent status. Not surprising there was strong commitment to the fact that the work of UCCE academics is as important as that of academics with professorial and agronomist titles. We talked through a matrix that outlined differences and similarities between different titles and I think we all learned some things. We also talked about the 2018 position call process and affirmed the value of broad input to identify position needs as well as thoughts around providing some guidance about broad based groups vetting ideas early as a means of helping Program Council prioritize the many needs within the division. The Program Council will also look at ways to gain more of a statewide perspective and assessment of strengths and gaps as part of the upcoming process. More discussion is needed on this topic. Other topics were identified for upcoming meetings. Each month it seems like we should end early on the second day of Program Council – we start out ahead and then slowly lose time as the day progresses. But the discussions are robust and there doesn't seem to be a shortage of topics. It leaves me with a long list of ideas to ponder for action.
It's time to look forward to rain now; quite a change from a few months ago. If it doesn't rain soon I am going to have to find a car wash before it is impossible to tell that the license plates are finally changed.