The UC Office of the President today (Jan. 20, 2015) announced the opening of the application period for the next staff advisor-designate to the Regents. The position's term runs July 2015 through June 2017.
The staff advisor program allows for two staff or non-Senate academic employees to participate in open sessions of the Board of Regents as well as designated committees of the board. The staff advisors bring the voice and perspective of staff and non-Senate academic employees to board deliberations.
The current staff advisors to the Regents are Donna Coyne, associate director of admissions at UC Santa Barbara, whose two-year term will expire in June, and, Deidre “De” Acker, ombuds at UC Merced, who began her term in July 2014.
"Serving as Staff Advisor is an opportunity to ensure staff input is considered in decision-making at the highest level,” Coyne said. "As a staff advisor, you can have a real impact in guiding UC forward."
All employees are encouraged to learn more about the program at the staff advisor website. Questions about the staff advisor position or the application process should be directed to Juliann Martinez, UCOP Employee Relations, at (510) 287-3331 or via email Juliann.Martinez@ucop.edu. Applications will be accepted through March 6, 2015.
About the staff advisors to the Regents
A continuing goal of the UC Regents is to foster two-way communication between UC staff and the board. In January 2007, the Regents voted unanimously to establish positions for two staff advisors to participate in their deliberative process and to provide a staff perspective on matters coming before the board.
One new staff advisor is selected each year for a two-year term. The staff advisors serve as non-voting advisors to designated Regents' committees; they attend and participate directly in committee and board meetings throughout their term of service, and visit many of the campuses to solicit input from staff. Staff interested in public policy, advocacy and understanding the future direction of the university are encouraged to apply.
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.
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.
Please join me in welcoming our new Strategic Communications Director to ANR. Mike Janes comes to us from the Sandia National Laboratory in Livermore where he has been the Communications and Media Relations Officer for over ten years. His extensive experience with communicating science to a wider audience is a skill that will greatly benefit ANR.
As you all know, we are heavily involved with many of the President's Initiatives – Food, Carbon Neutrality and Mexico. In support of these initiatives, we have an opportunity to share the research and program delivery stories from our academics all over the state of California. Mr. Janes is arriving at a critical time to help us leverage these opportunities, and showcase the exceptional work of ANR.
Mr. Janes also led the lab's Diversity and Inclusion Action Planning Team, and we look forward to having him engage with our own efforts to ensure that ANR has a welcoming and inclusive work environment. Earlier in his career, Mr. Janes worked as the Media Relations Director for the American Institute of Architects, and as the Senior Media Relations Manager for Special Olympics International.
Mr. Janes is an Air Force veteran and has an M.A in strategic communication and leadership and a B.A. in broadcast communications. He will be based in Davis and starts on February 2, 2015.
Shijian (George) Zhuang joined UCCE on Jan. 2 as a viticulture advisor in Fresno County. His background is in Viticulture and Enology, Food Science and Horticultural Science. Zhuang's research focuses on wine, raisin and table grapes.
Prior to joining UCCE, Zhuang was a viticulture intern at E & J Gallo Winery where he worked on several research projects that included precision viticulture and differential irrigation. This experience provided him a greater understanding about viticulture and vineyard management in the Central Valley and the needs and future challenges of the grape industry, such as limited water availability, labor shortage and invasive pest species. From 2009 to 2012, Zhuang was a master graduate research assistant at Michigan State University where he participated in research projects such as experimental trials of new varieties (NE 10-20), early leaf removal on pinot noir, foliar nitrogen application on chardonnay and crop and canopy management on concord grapes. Zhuang also worked on canopy microclimate management and crop load manipulation in order to improve fruit quality. During his research study, Zhuang gained skills in the analysis of different chemical components, such as anthocyanins and phenolics, in grapes and wines as well as grape flavor chemistry components such as methoxypyrazines.
Zhuang earned a B.S. in viticulture and enology from China Agricultural University, Beijing, China, and a M.S. in horticulture from Michigan State University. His master's thesis focused on the impact of viticultural practices (crop load and canopy management) on fruit quality of cabernet franc grapevines grown under cool climate conditions.
Zhuang can be reached at (559) 241-7506 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Downing is California Agriculture journal's new executive editor. Downing, who joined UC on Jan. 12, is familiar with UC Cooperative Extension from his years covering agriculture, energy and climate policy for the Sacramento Bee. He even read California Agriculture as an undergrad at Cornell University.
Until joining UC ANR, he was principal in Jim Downing Consulting, where he wrote and produced publications on science, natural resources, policy and management for clients such as the Nature Conservancy, the Water Education Foundation and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Besides his Bee reporting, Downing has professional experience in agriculture, with international fellowships in water reuse and reclamation and in rural and urban water quality. He has two master's degrees from UC Berkeley, one in civil and environmental engineering and the other in energy and resources.
In his new position, Downing will oversee California Agriculture's content, quality, accuracy and strategic direction, planning and producing issues that speak to the journal's educated and cross-disciplinary readers.
Downing can be reached at email@example.com and (530) 750-1352.
UCCE nutrition honored in Kings County
The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Kings County was honored as the Most Outstanding Support Agency at the 2014 Kings Prevention Awards. UC CalFresh community educator Sue Lafferty and UC CalFresh program representative Denise Cuendett accepted the award at a breakfast program on Dec. 4 in Hanford. The Kings Prevention Awards were presented by a local coalition called the Kings Partnership for Prevention.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2015-2016 academic year Graduate Students working in Extension (GSE) program. This program is geared for CE personnel and graduate students who are interested in working collaboratively and for CE academics to mentor a graduate student on a project. Mentors contribute only 25 percent of the funds for graduate student support. Applications are due on March 6 and students are starting to work on them. Now is a good time to get involved.
The original group of GSE graduate students are working to facilitate the next group by helping to connect students to potential mentors. There are several ways to get involved. On Feb. 5, there will be a Cooperative Extension Showcase at UCB. It features talks by CE specialists, advisors and program staff, but also, this year, includes sections for people with project ideas to give a short talk for interested graduate students. The event will be followed by a mixer to further facilitate networking among academics and graduate students.
If you would like to attend the Showcase or if you cannot make the Showcase and have a project idea, please email Kevi Mace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background: Recognizing that there is no formal program currently devoted to educating and training students interested in Cooperative Extension work, ANR launched this three-year pilot program in 2014 to train and recruit graduate students for careers in extension research and outreach. The program is designed for graduate students and Cooperative Extension academics to work collaboratively on projects that are relevant for all involved.
In order to apply, students need to develop a mentorship team including their academic advisor and at least one CE academic or advisor. The funding structure is 50 percent from ANR, 25 percent from the students' home department and 25 percent from the mentorship team. The positions are known as Graduate Student working in Extension (GSE), or Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) in Extension.
The first set of graduate students received funding during the 2014-2015 academic year. These students developed their projects with their mentorship teams and have been achieving exciting results in both research and extension. Their projects are listed at http://ucanr.edu/sites/GGCE/Current_Graduate_Student_Researchers. You can find updates on their research and extension efforts at http://ucanr.edu/sites/GGCE/Research_Updates.