This week has many of the same agenda items on it as past weeks though that's not to say that there isn't progress. I am winding down conversations with candidates for the appointment as Assistant Vice Provost of the RECs and Cooperative Extension (2 appointments, total, each at about 10 hours per week). The individuals who will hold these appointments work under the direction of the Vice Provost – Research and Extension to provide support to the Vice Provost. Responsibilities are variable and likely to change, particularly after we onboard a new Vice Provost – Research and Extension. The Vice Provost - Research and Extension is the first point of contact for County Directors and REC directors as well as the direct supervisor of these groups. One of the candidates summed up the role well by stating that the Assistant Vice Provosts will have ‘responsibilities without authority'. The individual did not mean this in a negative light but to capture the relationship the Assistant Vice Provosts have with the Vice Provost and Directors. In fact, this relationship affords many benefits.
I had to carry forward my Strategic Plan update homework that I had hoped to complete over the weekend. While I know where to find the baseline data for progress metrics, I haven't actually procured it yet. I really need to get on that. There's only one metric in the plan that I am not comfortable with or certain that it will be meaningful. I've run into that before in trying to quantify my research and Extension program impacts so I know that I can't be sure if it's a reasonable metric until I give it a try. This, too, shall remain on the ‘to do' list.
February 7, 2018 seems a long ways away yet but there are already competing meetings for that date! Program Council is scheduled to meet. The California Farm Demonstration Network steering committee has identified that date as the preferred meeting date but unless something changes with Program Council, I won't make the steering committee meeting if held on Feb 7. Also taking place that day is a Climate Change in CE Workshop. The workshop is the result of an RREA grant that Susie Kocher (@UCsierraforest) led. In my previous academic life I would have attended and was part of a Midwest group that developed climate change materials for use by Extension professionals.
Faith Kerns (@frkearns) is a member of the Climate Change workgroup. Yesterday I heard about some of the extended media coverage Faith's articles for Bay Nature and The Conversation have had. Who would have expected Rolling Stone would quote a portion of the Bay Nature piece! And CBS News, too! Way to go Faith!
Time to move on to other things for the day and see what items from last week I can wrap up.
Almost Friday! Program Council went well this week. We heard the report from Michael Cahn who chaired the IGIS review. The committee did a great job reviewing the program and developing recommendations for Vice President Humiston's consideration. Michael and his team, supported by Jennifer Caron-Sales were quite thorough and really viewed the IGIS program through the lens of strengthening the reach and relevance of the IGIS efforts. Likewise, Maggi Kelly, Andy Lyons and the IGIS team did a great job responding to the committee comments and recommendations. I suspect these program reviews can be approached with some trepidation but my experience with this review, my first, is that the review committee and Program Council are focused on constructive guidance to lead to a stronger, more collaborative program and not criticism.
Program Council reviewed all of the feedback received about the upcoming position call process. Because Program Council is comprised of CE Specialists and Advisors that are all part of Program Teams and also serve as County Directors, Statewide Program Directors, and Institute Directors, as well as Associate Deans that are committed to the success of their departments, the members of Program Council have a vested interest in a successful position call process. We received a number of good suggestions to improve the process. Basically, the process will follow what was proposed as a new approach but with clarification that the first groups are not intended to develop positions in isolation but with extensive consultation with Program Teams that include Advisors, Specialists, program directors, stakeholders. Following those initial lists of positions, there would be opportunities to add in additional positions that are critical and not represented in the initial lists. In addition, I believe we will be increasing the numbers a bit but still remain under 140 position proposals. Finally, in early January, we will identify how to ensure stakeholders have a mechanism to weigh in. More information to come after the January Program Council meeting.
The January meeting will have some new members at Program Council. SI Leader interviews are scheduled for later this month. While time consuming, Program Council provides greater insight into the workings of UC ANR. Once decisions are made, there will be an announcement made, likely through the ANR Update so stay tuned. Similarly, conversations with Assistant Vice Provost candidates are wrapping up. Hopefully, that announcement will be out before January 1. The 2 Vice Provost searches are moving forward but no updates are available yet.
Today was Executive Council for most of the day. This is a meeting with the 4 Deans from the 3 AES campuses. It's a good chance to make sure everyone is on the same page as well as share successes and strategies to address challenges. In particular, it's an important mechanism to build connections across the campuses to the benefit of CE Specialists and Advisors.
In summary, a lot of sitting this week so I'm eager to get some yard work done this weekend. Hopefully it is a calm, wind-less weekend throughout the state.
I haven't fully adjusted to California's climate. Or perhaps it is just that I don't understand it. How is it possible that the lawn was mowed yesterday and then we went under a freeze warning for the overnight? Hearty grass?
Last week I spent part of a day at UC ANR's ‘friendly office with the best birthday parties'! And it was fun! I wasn't there for a birthday party but Karrie Reid (@Reid_Karrie)still put out quite a spread for my visit to the San Joaquin office. Her baking skills inspired me to try some ideation in the kitchen over the weekend. I must admit, there were some failures but no one was injured. The UCCE San Joaquin program and facility is truly a reflection of a strong and long-standing partnership with the County. I am really proud to be a resident of that county. And apparently once you are, it is difficult to leave. I was surprised how many of the UCCE personnel in that office were born and raised in the county. In addition to discussions, I had a chance to walk through a bit of the demonstration garden. Because it is so close to home, I will definitely return there as I look for ideas.
Emma Fete participated in the meeting despite having arrived from Ohio only 2 days earlier. Today is her first day as the new CE Advisor in 4-H Youth Development, housed in San Joaquin County with program responsibilities in both San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties. Welcome Emma! It was really thoughtful of her to come in during what was surely a hectic week. She is going to fit in well with the office group!
Last week I spent a day down at South Coast REC to attend a meeting intended to think through how the facility could house a public-private partnership to advance Controlled Environment Agriculture. The day was packed with good information and some really exciting stories about growing food on Mars, developing South LA, and the differences between greenhouse production and controlled environment production. No doubt there are both successes and some failures in the making, but it's all progress.
A couple weeks ago I met with David Slaughter to learn more about the Big Ideas Smart Farm project he is leading at UC Davis. It was a fascinating discussion, full of opportunities for UC ANR to be a partner in the effort and promote the intended hub. Controlled environment agriculture is just one element of the Smart Farm hub. From the whitepaper that lead to UCD support for the project, “SmartFarm will take an integrated systems approach to develop superior plants, smart machines, more efficient farming methods for crops and animals alike, and a highly trained workforce that together will provide a path toward food security in the year 2050 and beyond”. While there is a ‘place' identified to showcase smart farming practices and advancements, the idea is that, as a hub, there is coordination amongst the different components of a ‘smart farm' that aren't necessarily co-located. It's really exciting and I can envision how UC ANR, across the state, could be very much connected to the effort.
Off to a day trip this morning and then Program Council tomorrow and Wednesday. I haven't looked much beyond that for the week but anticipate some learning opportunities and perhaps some successful ideation.
I think the last time I opened a fortune cookie my fortune was something along the lines of “you shall have many surprises” – not exactly the kind of fortune that puts you at ease but rather has you wondering what qualifies someone to write the fortunes that get stuffed into cookies anyways. A good friend and colleague sent me a text the other day that the fortune in her cookie read “A goal is a dream with a deadline”. Now that's a fortune that at least makes you stop and think. It is fitting for some of my meetings this week, despite belonging to someone else.
This morning a group of us met to talk about progress on the strategic plan, particularly the metrics we use to measure our progress. Much like condition changes, we need to really sit down and think what indicators can be used to document our success. The ‘big goal' is to have a positive impact on the lives of every Californian. Because that's so lofty we have other goals (15 of them, to be exact) that are much like condition changes in that if we realize these changes in condition we have greater confidence that we will achieve the big goal. Some of those condition changes include reaching more people by making our science-based information more accessible, increasing the number of people delivering that science-based information as a means of reaching more people, streamlining administrative efficiencies so that there is more time and financial resources to be directed towards programming, increasing partnerships to increase the capacity and financial resources that translate into reaching more people, maintaining and improving infrastructure to facilitate research needed to address current and emerging challenges, and so on.
Quantifying the success of our strategic plan is then much like quantifying the impact of an individual or team's program – we need to identify the correct indicators to measure the change in condition. For example, how do we determine that we have reached more people or streamlined administrative efficiencies? Can outputs be used as indicators of impacts? Can a single indicator be used for multiple condition changes? These are all questions that we are thinking through all across UC ANR, whether it be related to programs/research or administration. And, like many of the conversations related to quantifying condition changes resulting from programs and research, we are talking about the timeline for quantification – where can we quantify success in the short term and what needs a longer window in order to show incremental change? So this is where we need to put a timeline on our dream of having a positive impact on the lives of 40 million Californians. I can foresee losing some sleep over this!
The condition changes that will be coded into Project Board are posted on the Strategic Plan website. Many, many minds resulted in a strong, achievable list. That kind of thinking will translate the dream into reality so despite the lofty goal I am looking forward to the strategic plan annual reunion for the planning and implementation team that is scheduled for mid-January.
Time to get some sleep. I don't think it will be sugarplum fairies dancing in my head tonight.
The hard part about taking time off is getting back into the ‘work' mindset. I'm not sure I am fully back yet. Of course, some argue that we should bring our Saturday selves to work on Monday so this may work out well. Either way, this week is primarily phone calls and meetings by phone. On Wednesday I visit the San Joaquin office, my home office! Then on Friday I head to the South Coast REC. And even next week I don't have any overnight travel.
Program Council has completed its work for the grants cycle. VP Humiston should announce her decision soon. Next week it's time for Program Council to meet again (already!). I need to start preparing for that meeting. And if anyone has suggested improvements for the position call process, please share by the end of this week. We will be discussing the process and reviewing suggestions at the meeting next week.
Thanks for the feedback on Dan Foley's TED talk that I mentioned previously. A keynote speaker for the April 2018 UC ANR Statewide Conference has not been finalized. A few weeks back, Glenda and I heard a talk by Regina Dugan, VP Engineering at Facebook. We agree that she was impressive – perhaps we can land her for the statewide conference. We would need to identify a topic. A couple of things VP Dugan said really stuck with me. One was that, by 2030, 80% of current jobs won't exist. That has me wondering whether or not we are thinking around the corner far enough to prepare our students, our clientele, and our organization to be successful and relevant? How will Cooperative Extension do business in 2030 and how do we prepare for that? VP Dugan was referring to robotics, advanced instrumentation, and artificial intelligence replacing human labor and while it isn't immediately obvious how that eliminates the need for discovery and research dissemination, no doubt there will be some impact on CE roles and responsibilities.
The other comment VP Dugan made in her talk was that the “risk of failure is the price we pay for the privilege of making something great”. I can only imagine the number of great things that haven't happened because someone was afraid of failure. The principle of risking failure in order to do something great ties back to the ideation, that I learned about in early October, where you throw out many ideas and test them early on in the idea development process so that failures, while potentially many, are small. This conditions one to accept failure as part of the creative process rather than fear failure. How does one retrain themself to embrace failure in order to make an exceptional contribution? And how do we reward the attempt to succeed in spite of failure or even measure/value the attempt?
I'm still suffering from ‘time off brain' so I won't solve this today. But I'd love to hear ideas. Until next time, welcome back and good luck getting back into the swing of things.