- Author: Glenda Humiston
In my ANR Update message on Feb. 8, I shared a report released in January by the Huron Consulting Group on the UC Office of the President's (UCOP) organizational structure. President Napolitano's goal in commissioning that review was to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of UCOP, while aligning its work to best support the university's core mission.
As I mentioned last month, Huron offered options that we believe would harm ANR's ability to deliver our mission of research and extension and to bring UC to local communities in every part of California. We identified several issues with both options, chief among those were adding layers of administration between ANR and the UC president as well as between ANR and the public we serve. Those additional layers would likely increase administrative costs and reduce funding for program delivery. At the president's request, we have developed an alternative proposal that would strengthen ANR's ability to deliver our mission while also serving the needs of UCOP for better financial management and administrative efficiency.
A challenge we have faced for years is that about half of our budget flows through UCOP while we manage the remainder directly. ANR is the only major operating division at UCOP that directly conducts research and program delivery, with hundreds of employees throughout California deploying over $200 million in resources. This has caused a great deal of confusion for auditors and often led to budget cuts during calls to reduce UC administrative overhead. Our recommendation places the entire ANR budget into one operating unit/location within the UC Chart of Accounts and allows for more transparency to the public. It also improves ANR's opportunities to stabilize our funding, rebuild our academic footprint and enhance program delivery.
Unlike the institutions used as examples in Huron's report, there is no one flagship campus serving as California's land-grant institution; instead, the entire UC system is responsible for the land-grant mission. To effectively deliver that mission, ANR is structured as a large statewide operating unit administering over 300 Memoranda of Understanding with a wide array of public and private sector partners, including deployment of resources on multiple campuses across the UC system and in close partnership with local governments in every county. The Huron report recognized that housing ANR within one campus was suboptimal and could create perceptions of favoritism and inequities between the campuses. Our proposal calls for a collaborative relationship; injecting competition and administrative layers would not serve the UC system nor our stakeholders well.
Separating ANR's budget and FTE from UCOP offers many advantages to both entities. Under the proposal we have offered, the ANR vice president continues to report directly to the president, the ANR governance structure does not change and no people or infrastructure would be moved. The proposal does agree with the Huron recommendation that ANR funding should be changed to state appropriations and that reconnecting the UC Natural Reserve System to ANR offers improved research opportunities for both entities. We believe these changes would best achieve the president's objectives to better align UCOP support functions to campuses while enhancing the systemwide and statewide functions of a vital outreach and engagement arm of the university.
The president continues to analyze the different options before her to ensure UCOP is best serving the UC system as well as all Californians for the long term. We are excited to work closely with President Napolitano to strengthen UC as a premiere research and extension institute by giving these vital programs room to grow and better serve the critical needs of California's economy and communities. I will continue to keep you apprised as our discussions unfold.
As most of you know, Bill Frost, our associate vice president (AVP), intends to retire in June. In light of his impending departure from ANR, we are looking at augmenting the leadership structure to provide better support for ANR's extensive programs and initiatives. Currently we have challenges in balancing program delivery and administration with the need to expand our efforts in strategic initiatives, partnerships, funds development and raising the profile of ANR. To better provide for those needs, we're moving forward with a few modest but important modifications. The changes are in no way set in stone — we're going to evaluate things over the next several months and will make adjustments as needed. Those changes will be:
- The new AVP, which is under recruitment, will have several current responsibilities removed and be based at UC Office of the President in Oakland (UCOP). This will allow the new AVP and the AVP for Business Operation to work closely as a team on day-to-day operations, and to coordinate regularly with counterparts at UCOP. The new AVP will be more focused on ANR's engagement with the entire UC system, policy issues and partnerships that will benefit ANR. One aim of this change is to augment the Vice President's ability to engage more on funds development, strategic opportunities, policy development, expanding collaborations and raising ANR's profile.
- We will create a new position, Vice Provost Strategic Initiatives & Statewide Programs. The leaders of the strategic initiatives, Nutrition Policy Institute, California Institute for Water Resources and statewide programs will all report to the Vice Provost Strategic Initiatives & Statewide Programs. The position, which will be based in Davis, will coordinate ANR's engagement in the UC President's initiatives, provide leadership for ANR's Strategic Initiatives and enhance synergies between initiatives and our various programs. Like the Vice Provost for Cooperative Extension, this new position will report to the AVP.
- Management of the REC System will be removed from the AVP and the current associate director position will be elevated to director. Lisa Fischer will be appointed interim REC System director for two years, followed by an open recruitment for the director position.
Going forward, the Senior Leadership Team, along with 21 program and unit directors, will serve as my VP Council. We will meet quarterly to strategize on how best to engage with initiatives, new partners and opportunities as they arise. The VP Council will also serve as a sounding board on policy and program issues as well as help design action plans to best serve ANR goals. Shortly after these changes are implemented, we will also seek to empower both the Academic Assembly and the new Staff Assembly to serve as strong voices in the shared governance of ANR.
It is my hope that these changes will enhance our efforts to rebuild the ANR and Cooperative Extension footprint around the state. These modifications should allow me to do what I see as the core part of my job: finding new sources of funding, building new partnerships, enhancing key collaborations, and positioning ANR as the premiere source of science and solutions for the challenges facing agriculture, natural resources and the health of our communities. I also believe that improving the ability of all the voices in the ANR system to be heard will greatly improve how we advance that science and develop those solutions. We will all be able to achieve far more as a well-functioning team with access to the knowledge, information and skills of every member.
Thank you for being part of the ANR team. I look forward to working with you as we implement these changes!