- Author: LeChé McGill
The UC ANR Staff Assembly Council will hold a Staff Assembly Ambassadors meeting at the ANR Building in Davis on Oct. 10. The engagement will provide an opportunity for ambassadors to visit and network with colleagues and review Staff Assembly priorities. Additionally, they will discuss opportunities for staff to become more involved in addressing staff concerns and furthering organizational goals.
UC ANR Tote Bags
In an effort to help spread the word about UC ANR Staff Assembly, all Staff Assembly members will receive a We Are UC ANR Staff Assembly tote bag. Members of the UC Staff Assembly include all ANR staff, whether employed by the county or the university, represented by a union or not represented. UC ANR Staff Assembly Ambassadors are the points of contact for distributing the bags at each office.
CUCSA Fall 2017 Meeting
UC San Diego was the site of the CUCSA (Council of University of California Staff Assemblies) Fall 2017 Meeting Sept. 6-8. The meeting included a team building exercise, work group action planning, post retirement health benefit discussions and a review of UC Employee Engagement Survey results. UC ANR junior delegate LeChé McGill and senior delegate Jeannette Warnert represented UC ANR staff at the meeting.
On the subject of potential changes to post-retirement health benefits, CUCSA chair Lina Layiktez provided the summary below and links for more information.
Proposed change to post-retirement health benefits
The proposed action item for the July 2017 Regents meeting was to remove the 70 percent floor on the UC contribution to retiree health benefits and place a cap of 3 percent on year-over-year increases to UC costs. This is a policy change to offset the accounting rule changes required in "GASB 75." GASB 75 requires that the full actuarial value of other postemployment benefits (OPEB) be included on the systemwide balance sheet. This means that UC will have a perceived “new” liability of $21 billion, which would affect the system's overall credit rating. A hit to the UC's credit rating has obvious impacts to financing for the university.
The “new” GASB 75 requirement definition is subject to interpretation, since it was already a liability that was disclosed in previous year's financials. The value of this liability under current assumptions/retiree rules is approximately $21 billion. The current assumptions are being driven by the number of retirees in the system plus the number of potential retirees (active staff and faculty) and how much it would cost the system in health-care costs should the current employees retire today.
What does this all mean?
By removing the floor and capping UC's costs, the university effectively transfers rising health-care premiums to retirees. The assumed rate of health-care cost increase is 7 percent. Over the course of 20 years this would flip the proportion that UC pays to ~30 percent and the retiree to ~70 percent. The 70 percent floor was designed to provide some stability to retiree health-care costs.
What do we see happening?
Many UC employees choose to retire after calculating their retirement income. This is necessary because, except for Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA), there is no way for retirees to increase their income from the university. So when out-of-pocket health-care costs go up for retirees, this eats into their living expenses. There are already retirees and survivors of retirees who have to choose between health-care costs and food. To suddenly remove the 70% floor exacerbates this problem.
What can you do?
The campus staff assemblies are collecting feedback locally and sharing this up to the Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA), who will be coordinating a response to the UC President and/or Board of Regents. We are also working on a list of questions that include queries, such as what OPEB would look like if it grandparented current employees and implemented the changes to future retirees? What does this mean for retention of employees with 10 to 20 years of service?
The most powerful and helpful thing for us now is to hear about your personal concerns and how this impacts you. Would no OPEB mean you are less likely to retire from the UC system and take a job elsewhere for more money now? Will you have to postpone your retirement if, in retirement, you will have to pay a greater portion of your OPEB than you had planned for under the current plan?
Share your questions and stories with us on the UC ANR Staff Assembly website.
Fortunately, the July agenda was revised and this item was moved to the November meeting agenda. Moving the item to November will allow for more consultation and discussion. It is unknown what approach the UC Office of the President (OP) will take to solicit feedback and engage in discussion. But as that information becomes available, we will make sure to share it broadly. We are hopeful that CUCSA (and therefore a voice of staff) will be included in the discussions and that OP will convene a task force representing all parties that will be affected by the proposed changes. Stay tuned.
Click here for the original July Regents Meeting Agenda Item (F7), which was then revised to remove the discussion on the 70 percent floor.
The immediate past chair of the systemwide Academic Senate, Jim Chalfant, has already written a letter to the UC President on this issue. You can read it online here: http://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/reports/JC-JN-Retiree-Health.pdf.
We can work collectively to inform and educate staff on this important matter. We are stronger together and the more voices that participate, the louder the message will be to those making the decisions that affect all of us.
UC ANR human resources director John Fox also said one important point that isn't addressed in the CUCSA summary is Medicare coverage. “When a UC retiree enrolls in Medicare, the monthly medical premium costs are significantly reduced (both for the retiree and for UC). Much of the future liability that UC is trying to control (and the risk of high monthly costs for the retirees) is during the time between retirement from UC and the start of Medicare eligibility (typically age 65).”
If you would like to share your stories or post a comment on this proposed change, please fill out the form on the UC ANR Staff Assembly website. We will share comments and stories from UC ANR with CUCSA leadership, who will compile it with information from other campuses to share with the UC President and UC Regents.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Mariano Galla joined UCCE on June 5 as an area agronomic cropping systems and weed science advisor in Glenn, Butte and Tehama counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Galla was a research scientist from 2010 to 2014 at Agrisearch Services (now part of Eurofin Agroscience Australia), an Australian contract-research company with offices spread throughout the country. During his four years with the company, Galla worked in different locations across Australia, where he gained experience in different cropping systems and environments. He was responsible for establishing and conducting field trials in horticulture and broad acreage agronomy and with plant varieties.
Galla earned an M.S. in international agricultural development and a B.S. in agricultural sciences from University of Florence in Italy. He is currently studying herbicide drift as a Ph.D. candidate in weed science at UC Davis, and he anticipates completing his doctorate in spring 2018. He speaks Italian fluently.
Based in Orland, Galla can be reached at (530) 865-1105 and email@example.com.
Sowers named executive director of 4-H Foundation
Trish Bloemker Sowers joined the Development Services team June 1 as the major gift officer/executive director of the 4-H Foundation. She is a seasoned development professional with more than a decade of major and principal gifts experience in the university setting. She has worked with collegiate alumni, parents and friends as well as corporate and foundation partners at a variety of institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, Missouri University of Science & Technology and UC Davis. In addition, Sowers has served as an executive director to a variety of trade and professional association leaders, a role in which she excelled at chapter management, board development and volunteer recruitment.
While she takes great pride in her previous development work, Sowers is especially excited to help strengthen and enhance the CA 4-H Foundation. 4-H is the organization that has had the greatest impact on her life and there has never been a cause in which she believes more passionately than 4-H.
Sowers, a 10-year 4-H alumna, represented the Nebraska 4-H program as a state and national leadership winner at the National 4-H Congress, where she was selected to receive the Silver Presidential Tray for outstanding leadership. In addition, she was a delegate to the National 4-H Conference, served as a member of the Nebraska Teen Awareness Team and held key leadership roles in four consecutive state conferences.
Sowers is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and earned her master's degree at the University of Nebraska, while working full time in the Nebraska State 4-H office. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and an active volunteer for several educational and philanthropic organizations.
Based at the ANR building in Davis, Sowers can be reached at (530) 750-1202 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schneider named CNAS communications director
Bryan Schneider joined UC Riverside's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences as its director of communications on June 19. In this role, he will oversee digital, web and print communications, along with marketing and events management, for the college, working closely with UCR's Strategic Communications office on media relations and various communications initiatives.
Working in higher education for over 17 years, Schneider came to UCR from the Claremont Colleges, where he co-managed the communications office for Claremont McKenna College. He also led award-winning marketing and web development teams for the Health Sciences enterprise at the University of Southern California, which included the Keck Medical Center of USC and the Keck School of Medicine. Prior to that, he led communications efforts at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication and Claremont Graduate University.
Prior to his career in public communications, Schneider was a grant writer and prospect researcher in development. He studied anthropology at UCLA and the University of Michigan.
Schneider is based in the CNAS Dean's Office in the Geology Building at UCR and can be reached at (951) 827-5304 and email@example.com.
Messenger-Sikes and Fontecha join IPM
Belinda Messenger-Sikes joined UC IPM as an urban writer/editor on May 1. Messenger-Sikes will update Pest Notes publications and contribute to the Urban IPM Program's newsletters, blogs, online training course development and other materials. She will also assist academics and staff in developing curricula for various training materials aimed at UC Master Gardeners, retailers, pest management professionals and other urban audiences.
Messenger-Sikes holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC Riverside. Her dissertation studied the use of calcium soil amendments for control of Phytophthora root rot of avocado. After graduating, she worked as a mycologist in the discovery section of AgraQuest, a biopesticide company in Davis. In 2000, she joined the pest management program at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, where she worked in both urban and agricultural IPM. She initiated the school and child care IPM program and worked as the child care IPM specialist for eight years. Messenger-Sikes specialized in outreach and education of school staff and child care providers, introducing new users to the concepts and practices of IPM.
Messenger-Sikes is located at the ANR building in Davis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (530) 750-1395.
Kathreen Fontecha joined UC IPM as the web production coordinator and UI/UX designer on April 3. Fontecha will ensure a consistent and tested online design and user experience for the UC IPM website and digital products. She will produce wireframes and mockups, as well as create final HTML and CSS prototypes. Fontecha will coordinate and ensure that IPM content is clearly laid out and quickly and efficiently published to the UC IPM website. Working with the IT/Production staff, her first goal is to transition the website to a more mobile friendly look and feel.
Fontecha is joining UC IPM from ANR Communication Services and Information Technology (CSIT), where she was the senior artist working on producing print and digital materials for UC ANR publications, California Agriculture magazine article layouts, newsletters, infographics, signage and presentations. In addition to print production, she provided web strategy and user experience design. In this role, Fontecha developed wireframes and prototypes that provided efficient user interaction and considerations for responsive web design.
Before CSIT, Fontecha worked for the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) at UC Davis as their senior graphic designer. She managed and produced CLTC's visual communications, including publications, photography and the design and content management of their website.
Fontecha is located at the ANR building in Davis. She can be reached at (530) 750-1386 and email@example.com.
McGill named to Council of UC Staff Assemblies
LeChé McGill, academic human resources business consultant, has been named the junior delegate for UC ANR to the Council of UC Staff Assemblies. In this role, she also now has a position on the UC ANR Staff Assembly Council. The current chair of UC ANR Staff Assembly, Matt Baur, and co-chair Christina Adamson, have one more year on their two-year terms at the helm.
All ANR staff employees are members of the ANR Staff Assembly. The elected leaders of the group seek staff input on policies, processes and programs and serve in an advisory capacity to ANR leadership, giving staff a collective voice on issues of concern.
“From Cows to Concrete” by Rachel Surls, UC Cooperative Extension sustainable food systems advisor in Los Angeles County, and Judith Gerber has earned the Gold Medal in the category of Regional (Adult Nonfiction) in the 19th annual Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards.
The announcement was made during the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24. The awards recognize the best books published in 2016 from small, independent and university presses.
From the earliest pueblo cornfields to the struggles of farm workers to the rise of the environmental movement, "From Cows to Concrete" chronicles the epic tale of how agriculture forged Los Angeles into an urban metropolis, and how, ultimately, this farm empire spurred the very growth that paved it over, as sprawling suburbs swallowed up thousands of acres of prime farmland.
Surls and Gerber tell the continuing story of how, on the same land once squandered by corporate greed and “progress,” urban farmers are making inroads to a greener future. More than 150 vintage images expand the fascinating, detailed history.
Gerber, a second-generation Angeleno, is a farm and garden authority who has written about sustainable and urban farming, local foods and organic gardening for more than 20 years.
Over 2,000 entries were submitted in 66 categories, with Foreword's editors choosing the finalists, and a panel of over 150 librarians and booksellers acting as judges to pick the winners.
The book, published by Angel City Press, is available at http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3549.
Elliott and Garvey win ACE awards
Two communicators affiliated with UC ANR won a total of five awards for their writing and photography in a competition sponsored by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE). The awards were presented at the ACE meeting, held June 13-16 in New Orleans.
Steve Elliott, communication coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, received a gold award in promotional writing for his story, "Safflower Makes an Areawide IPM Program Work," published in the Western Front newsletter. Judges scored his work 100 out of a possible 100, saying, "You had me at Rodney Dangerfield. Very creative, the lead drew me right in wanting to read more. Excellent flow, packed with information in a narrative style. Congratulations on the terrific analytics for the newsletter."
He also received a bronze for his photo essay, "Loving the Land of Enchantment." Judges wrote: "Good variety of shot sizes which keeps it interesting. Diversity of stories along with photo content is engaging, and sticking to the IPM theme helps. There is so much text info that it was difficult to wade through. The words compliment the photos instead of the usual where the story supersedes the photos."
Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, received a silver award (second place) for a photo series entitled the "Predator and the Pest: What's for Dinner?" on her Bug Squad post on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources website on Oct. 3, 2016. Her series showed a praying mantis eating a cabbage white butterfly. Judges commented, "Definitely tells a story, interesting angles and good macro technique. Caught in the moment, but has a still life feel to it, like it's a diorama in a museum and we get to look at the scene from all sides. A unique look and good capture. "
Garvey also won a bronze award for her feature photo "Save the Monarchs," posted Aug. 8, 2016, on her Bug Squad blog. It showed a monarch clinging to a finger. Judges said, "The detail in this photo is incredible. The lighting on the hand against the black background is definitely striking. And it makes the white spots on the monarch pop! Beautiful!"
"A WSU-Tagged Monarch: What a Traveler!" earned her a bronze award (third place) for blog writing on her Bug Squad blog. Judges wrote: "Short and sweet and to the point. Perfect for web reading. The photo is so helpful to the reader. The call to action at the end is a plus and not something I've seen on other entries. Fabulous use of social media to extend the reach of the article, too." – Kathy Keatley Garvey
Walton wins Western Region NIFA teaching award
William Walton, a professor of entomology at UC Riverside, has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Western Region Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences. He will be recognized at the Western Region Joint Summer Meeting in Portland, Ore., on July 12.
The award, given by National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recognizes exceptional and innovative teaching in college and university agricultural and food science programs. Recipients exhibit “sustained, meritorious and exceptional teaching” that is “fundamental to recruiting and retaining the scientific and professional expertise essential to the future growth and progress of our nation's food and agricultural system.”
Each nominee is judged on teaching quality, philosophy of teaching and teaching methodology, service to the teaching profession and professional growth in teaching, professional growth and scholarly activity, and service to students.
“I have formulated my teaching goals and outcomes with the following thought in mind: if I ran into a former student on the street five years from now, what concepts in insect ecology would I hope that this person has retained?” Walton said. “I want my courses to provide benefits that transcend the subject matter, but I also want to balance new developments in pedagogy and technology with a fundamental understanding of the subject matter. Students need to be informed and inquisitive citizens who appreciate that learning is fun and a life-long process.”
Walton's laboratory works on integrating studies of mosquito biology and ecology with the design of control methodologies for pestiferous and pathogen-transmitting mosquitoes in wetlands. He was a National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences, has served as president of the Society for Vector Ecology, and is president-elect of the American Mosquito Control Association. – Iqbal Pitalwalla