- Author: Mike Janes
Downtown Oakland was the site of the biannual UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) meeting on Aug. 9, which included a Q&A session with President Napolitano, program presentations from UC Cooperative Extension county directors Rob Bennaton and Igor Lacan, and updates from deans Helene Dillard (UC Davis), Keith Gilless (UC Berkeley) and Kathryn Uhrich (UC Riverside), as well as Executive Associate Dean John Pascoe (filling in for Dean Michael Lairmore, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine).
In her opening remarks, UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston introduced Mark Bell, the division's new vice provost for statewide programs and strategic initiatives. Bell spoke about the strength of the UC system, the diversity of programs offered by UC ANR statewide, and his plans to leverage the strong volunteer and staff base of programs like UC Master Gardeners and 4-H.
Humiston also offered updates on the division's strategic plan and the significant progress made in implementing its key goals. Associate Vice President Tu Tran then gave a presentation on the division's financial situation, which he titled “A Fiscal Plan for Success.” Tran addressed UC ANR's place in the state budget and its revenue projections through FY 2021-22, which includes significant growth in major gifts and fundraising.
Bennaton and Lacan both gave spirited and enthusiastic presentations that were received well. Bennaton, who serves as county director for Alameda and Contra Costa counties as well as UCCE urban agriculture advisor for the Bay Area, discussed the benefits of urban agriculture and the assortment of activities going on in community development, habitat restoration and youth programming.
Lacan, also a UCCE environmental horticulture advisor for the Bay Area and co-director in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, talked about the diverse and richly rewarding work he spearheads in urban forestry. His work currently focuses on sustainable management of urban trees and urban water.
During a Q&A period, the president engaged PAC members on various issues such as potential public-private partnerships that could involve UC ANR, targeted approaches to advocacy and deferred maintenance needs for UC writ large but also for UC ANR and its research and extension centers system, specifically.
The deans gave updates on research and activities occurring at their respective colleges and school.
The next PAC meeting is scheduled for December, also in Oakland.
President Napolitano gave updates on the Global Food Initiative and tuition and discussed the importance of both to the state of California. Ever engaging, Napolitano solicited suggestions and opinions from the commissioners, encouraged an open dialogue on her many initiatives and discussed her most recent decision to increase tuition. For their part, the commissioners offered the president their assistance and support.
To round out the session, the industry leaders had an opportunity to learn more about ANR's California Institute for Water Resources and the newly formed Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI). Director Doug Parker told the group what UC has been doing to help Californians cope with the drought. Director Lorrene Ritchie explained the Nutrition Policy Institute's mission, their work on the UC Global Food Initiative, and NPI's current collaboration with PAC member Rodney Taylor on the Fruit and Veggie Hub. The presentations provided the commissioners and President Napolitano a better understanding of the depth of ANR's research and the extent to which ANR's research positively impacts individuals and communities in California.
Dan Dooley, who was a charter PAC member and former VP of ANR, attended the meeting and reception. PAC members thanked him for his leadership over the years. Dooley retired from UC as senior VP for External Relations on Jan. 2.
The PAC will meet again in the spring.