Welcome to the New Year! I am very proud of all we accomplished in 2014. With retirements and turnovers, 360 new staff personnel joined us in 2014, and we hired 37 new CE specialists, advisors, academic administrators and academic coordinators. We established the Nutrition Policy Institute, ratified the California Naturalist and Master Food Preserver programs as official ANR statewide programs, completed strategic plans for three Research and Extension Centers, and funded a pilot program for graduate students at Berkeley interested in careers in Cooperative Extension. We completed a comprehensive review process for proposed new CE hires and released new academic positions in November to continue our efforts to rebuild our CE footprint throughout the state. Our Rosenberg Water Policy program was reviewed, our competitive grants program was evaluated, and a new-hire programmatic orientation was conducted. These are just a few of the many program highlights throughout the year.
We celebrated the Cooperative Extension centennial with commemorations and celebrations big and small. A highlight of the yearlong celebration was our May 8th Day of Science and Service, when 20,000 people around the state participated in sharing with us how they use water, procure their food, and observe pollinators in their own back yard. Many, many thanks go to our centennial committee for all their hard work.
Before I move on to my plans for 2015, I want to recognize our staff. They are an incredible group of passionate, service-oriented professionals who make all the work we do, as academics, possible. As we continue to rebuild our academic footprint across the state, we are cognizant of the need to ensure sufficient staffing so that all our ANR employees thrive in their various roles.
2015 will bring changes, but also opportunities. As many of you know, I am retiring in June of this year. A new VP search has begun, and although it is time for me to transition, we still have much still to do in the next six months. I intend to bring to fruition some important efforts that I, and your leadership team, have been working on for the past three years. Many of our efforts have been focused on increasing the visibility and recognition of the outstanding, problem-solving research, education and extension work of our CE academics and staff. ANR, as the home of Cooperative Extension and the Research and Extension Center system and providing leadership to the Agriculture Experiment Station, is an important arm of the University of California, and has been recognized as such in many ways including the restoration of our direct reporting line to the UC President, and by financial support from our many friends throughout the state.
In the next six months, we will be very busy. Our financial model currently depends on revenues from the state, federal government, endowments, gifts, contracts and grants - much like a campus. Unlike a campus however, our funds are managed across five different UC ledgers, causing incredible inefficiencies in analyzing and accounting for the expenditures of our funds. We are using a number of vehicles to rectify this, including UC Path, pursuing a single-unified business unit, and clarifying our partnerships with our campus colleagues through detailed business services agreements.
Our CE academics were removed from the Academic Senate many, many years ago. However, we have a strong CE Academic Assembly Council and a robust academic merit and promotion system, which continues to ensure the excellence of our academics in research, education and extension. To address one inequity, we are working with the Academic Senate to establish equivalent status for our CE academics that parallels the Agronomist series, and is a small step in having UC recognize the research and education work of our CE ranks. We also recognize other inequities affecting our CE academics relative to the rights and privileges of other UC academics, and your leadership is working to address them.
Our new hires, academic and staff, will need robust orientation and training programs. Chief of staff Jan Corlett, and training coordinator Jodi Azulai are taking the lead and will work with our existing training committee, strategic initiative leaders, and statewide program directors to both continue and improve our offerings. The Work Environment study results will be an important additional metric in our thinking about orientation and training for ANR. In addition, we will create a Staff Assembly Council to improve the voice for our staff throughout the system.
Bringing our efforts to fruition will improve the Division's efficiency, accountability and work environment. Achieving these sets of actions will enable us to focus more time and resources on what really matters – the core services that UC ANR provides the people of California. Along with our AES colleagues and other partners across the state, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists, program reps, academic coordinators and administrators provide research and education programs that are science-based and provide solutions to some of the most pressing problems in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition and youth development. That is our mission, and one that all of us in ANR take on with passion and pride.
Best wishes to all of us for a fruitful (and very busy) 2015.