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ANR Update

CUCSA reviews post-retirement health update changes

Colleagues,

As your delegates to the Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA), we would like to share information on an issue that was addressed at our September meeting in San Diego last week. The issue concerns post-retirement health benefits and potential changes that have not been widely shared. CUCSA chair Lina Layiktez provided the summary below and links for more information.

What is the change to post-retirement health benefits that is being proposed?
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.

What's next?
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 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.

Sincerely,

Jeannette Warnert, UC ANR senior delegate to CUCSA

LeChé McGill, UC ANR junior delegate to CUCSA

View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.

 

 

Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 3:34 PM

ANR develops cost-recovery strategy to improve REC facilities

UC ANR leadership is proud of its outstanding network of nine Research and Extension Centers across the state. Including academic salaries and temporary funding, UC ANR invests close to $14 million annually in the REC system. We are committed to continuing to make an investment of this magnitude, recognizing the importance of each individual REC, and the REC system to our research and extension missions. 

A freeze on state operations and maintenance funding since 2006, and a virtual absence of deferred maintenance funds, necessitates a close look at how the annual investment is used so as to position the RECs for a long, successful future. UC ANR leadership is taking the long view to its programmatic collaboration and growth. As a result, we are developing a strategy for cost recovery to continue to operate and improve the facilities so that we can better serve researchers and their research and extension activities – well into the next decade, not just the next three to five years.

Key attributes of the strategy include:

  • improved clarity of how full-cost research rates are calculated and how researcher costs are derived, based on a researcher's specific and agreed upon needs for labor and facilities,
  • establishment of rates four to six months in advance of the effective date for the rate (i.e. rates published in January for projects beginning in July, or some variation of) in recognition of the need to project costs in advance of research start date,
  • development of a cost structure that reflects different project needs and differences in costs required to support the needs, and
  • ability to confirm researcher costs for specific, itemized research needs over a multi-year timeframe at time of proposal submission to a funding agency.

A move to this new way of calculating research rates will take some time to establish across all nine RECs. Our goal is to have this rolled out between January and March 2018 and to go into effect for any projects (new, renewed or expanded usage) beginning July 1, 2018. This is an ambitious goal given the review and approval process in place that ensures fairness of proposed methodology and charges. However, we are committed to making this a high priority in order to improve the research experience.

To assess feasibility of the approach, the Desert REC will move to a new model in the very near term and serve as a pilot study for the July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 timeframe. The new model includes different rates for different services (land, water, pesticides, labor, etc.). The new model applies at Desert REC for both new and continuing projects and provides the opportunity to identify any issues early on and make the necessary adjustments. The remaining RECs will develop research rates for REC services over the next few months and the new model will be refined and adapted in 2018-2019 for the remaining eight RECs.

For 2017-2018, researchers continuing projects at all RECs, except Desert REC and West Side REC, should plan on an additional 10 percent to their 2016-2017 research rate to cover increases in salaries and benefit rates and reflect a reduced subsidy by center funds applied to the full cost rate. New and renewed projects will be billed at a researcher rate of $27.46 per hour. A new project is one that has not been submitted to, and approved by, the REC previously. This higher rate reflects the need to reduce the subsidy applied to the full cost rate.

Researchers at West Side REC will be billed at a rate 10 percent above the 2016-2017 West Side REC research rate for all projects.

Developing a new strategy for setting research rates based on different rates for different services will take time, thus the decision to move forward as outlined above. The pilot assessment at Desert REC will illustrate the impacts of a new strategy on both researchers and business operations and help identify best practices to support the transition to a new strategy. We are committed to maintaining a system of RECs that are positioned to address present and emerging research needs for the long term and meet the planning needs of researchers.

 

Research and Extension Center

New projects and
projects renewed
at the end of the
3-year cycle

Continuing projects
(2nd and 3rd year)

Desert

Charges based on services utilized (acreage, water, labor etc.)

West Side

2016-17 rate + 10%

2016-17 rate + 10%

Hansen, Hopland, Intermountain, Kearney, Lindcove, Sierra Foothill, South Coast

$27.46

2016-17 rate + 10%

Wendy Powers 
Associate Vice President  

View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.

Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 8:31 AM

ANR calls for applications for SI leader positions, deadline Nov. 6

ANR academics are invited to apply for Strategic Initiative leader positions, which play key roles in advocating, convening and communicating to strengthen UC ANR's research and outreach agenda. Given the evolving role of the UC ANR Strategic Initiatives (SI), the current SI leaders have agreed that it would be beneficial to conduct an open search for the next set of SI leaders from across the breadth of expertise of the division.

During the second half of 2017, three SI leader positions are scheduled to rotate off, opening up opportunities for others to take the lead for Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases, Sustainable Food Systems and Sustainable Natural Resources.

Strategic Initiative leader positions are filled by UC ANR academics, who are appointed by the vice president on a rotating basis for three years, with a possibility of extension. The positions are open to all ANR academics, including Agricultural Experiment Station faculty and Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists.

Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases is currently led by Cheryl WilenDavid Doll leads Sustainable Food Systems, and John Harper leads Sustainable Natural Resources. Staying on are Doug Parker, who leads Water Quality, Quantity and Security, and Keith Nathaniel, who leads Healthy Families and Communities.

To apply for one of the SI leader positions, complete the form at http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=21548. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 6.

Applicants will be contacted for interviews in late November or early December. The new leaders are anticipated to start on Jan. 2, 2018.

For information regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Strategic Initiative leader position, see the Terms of Reference for Strategic Initiative Leaders. If you have questions, contact Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs.

View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.

 

Posted on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 1:50 PM

Megaro joins ANR as government and community relations director

Anne Megaro joined UC ANR as government and community relations director on Aug. 28. In her new role, Megaro will guide UC ANR employees in nurturing relationships with government officials and will monitor legislation that could affect UC ANR. She will also develop programs to promote community awareness of UC ANR.

Megaro, who earned a Ph.D. in animal science from Cornell University and a B.S. in animal science and management from UC Davis, brings a solid understanding of agriculture, science and the UC system along with knowledge of California's legislative processes.

“We're absolutely thrilled to have someone of Anne's caliber and credentials on board at UC ANR,” said Vice President Glenda Humiston. “Her hiring is a real coup for us and couldn't come at a more critical time. Educating our elected officials about the value of ANR research and outreach is always important, but especially as we try to increase investment in research infrastructure to address issues such as water, wildfire, invasive pests, food insecurity and other challenges facing the state.”

For the past five years, Megaro has been the California State Senate Committee on Agriculture's consultant. As the sole agriculture committee consultant for the Senate, Megaro planned legislative hearings, conducted independent research and analyzed agricultural bills to advise senators and staff on policy and legislative issues. She collaborated with senators, assembly members, governor's staff, legislative staff, government agencies, stakeholders and members of the public to resolve issues related to specific bills or policies.

“With the goodwill she's developed and contacts she's made in the state Senate, coupled with her ability to work with UC Cooperative Extension county directors and Research and Extension Center directors on effectively engaging policymakers at the local level, Anne will elevate UC ANR's ability to connect people with the data they need to make informed policy decisions,” Humiston said.

Megaro is based at the ANR building in Davis in Room 178 and can be reached at (530) 750-1218 and ammegaro@ucanr.edu.

View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.

Posted on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 8:47 AM

Haver named interim associate director of Research and Extension Center system

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that Darren Haver has agreed to serve as the interim associate director of the Research and Extension Center system, effective Oct. 1, 2017. Darren has served as the UC Cooperative Extension water resources advisor in Orange County since 2002, director of South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine since 2009 and director of UC Cooperative Extension in Orange County beginning in 2011.

Darren brings a wealth of experience to this position. We continue to develop a plan to address administrative vacancies and look forward to working with him in this interim role. Darren will serve in this capacity until June 30, 2018, or until a new director is appointed. Please join me in congratulating Darren on his interim position.

I also wish to congratulate Lisa Fischer on her pending retirement from UC ANR and thank her for her years of leadership of the REC system. Under her direction, each REC has developed a strategic plan to set the course for the future and numerous capital improvements have been made to the RECs, including new office and conference spaces. We wish Lisa the very best as she takes on new adventures.

Wendy Powers
Associate Vice President and Interim REC Director

View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.

Posted on Monday, August 28, 2017 at 2:31 PM

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