The President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources met via Zoom April 9 as everyone was sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Jean-Mari Peltier, PAC chair, welcomed the PAC members for their last meeting with President Janet Napolitano. Last September, Napolitano announced that she will step down as UC's leader Aug. 1.
President Napolitano commended ANR for its flexibility in response to the COVID-19 crisis. ANR is “the University of California for large parts of the state and we're proud that you are,” she told VP Glenda Humiston, adding that ANR is performing well under her leadership.
Napolitano thanked the PAC members for contributing their time and advice during her seven years at the UC helm, calling ANR “essential to UC identity as land grant university.” The commissioners thanked the president for her support for ANR. In response to questions about building support for ANR with her successor, Napolitano recommended taking the new president out of Oakland for site visits to learn about ANR. She described her visits to Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Humboldt County and other ANR sites as “eye opening.”
In her update about ANR, Humiston reported that despite the coronavirus pandemic's disruption to public gatherings, all ANR programs are still serving communities. “I'm really impressed with the innovative ways they are finding to deliver outreach,” she said, adding that advisors are adapting, for example, doing ranch visits via phone. Humiston also described the UC ANR Governing Council's tour of the South Coast Research and Extension Center in February to see how ANR engages urban Californians. She noted that a regents tour of South Coast REC planned for April 23 has been postponed until after the pandemic passes.
Karen Ross, secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture, joined the group to discuss how CDFA is responding to food system disruption resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. “I am optimistic about agriculture; we are so innovative and resilient,” Ross said, adding that she is concerned about funding for UC ANR and UCCE. She recommended seizing the moment while consumers are thinking about the food system to educate people about UC ANR's role.
Building on their December meeting, the PAC members continued their discussion of the future of the commission. They discussed recommendations to ensure the success and sustainability of ANR as well as the PAC.
They recommended the role of PAC members include
- Communication & advocacy
- Engaging as a strategic tool for problem solving
- Being a connector to industry leaders
- Supporting fund development
- Advising on strategy and mission priorities
To make their membership meaningful, the commissioners said they would like
- Greater active involvement
- Knowing they add value
- Feeling connected with ANR and other PAC members
- Sharing critical information
Although the PAC usually meets twice a year – in the spring and fall – the PAC agreed to meet again via videoconference in May or June to discuss and approve the new PAC charter.
“I don't know about you, but I'm really excited to have this gathering,” VP Glenda Humiston said, as she greeted the people attending the 2018 ANR Statewide Conference in Ontario. More than 650 people participated in the conference held April 9-12 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Ontario Airport. Humiston noted it was the first time since 2013 that all ANR employees had been invited to meet with their colleagues in person and discuss their work.
There were keynote presentations, science sessions, trainings, program team and workgroup meetings, numerous breakout sessions to attend, puzzles to solve in the resource room, a pop-up studio for News and Information Outreach in Spanish interviews and dozens of research posters to read. ANR leaders discussed how to chart a sustainable future for ANR. Wendell Brase, UC Irvine associate chancellor for sustainability; Sam Traina, UC Merced vice chancellor of research and economic development; and Kathryn Uhrich, UC Riverside dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, whose research has spawned start-up companies, discussed opportunities for innovation. Wendy Powers, associate vice president, announced the winners of the Distinguished Service Awards.
And in between, there was time to network with colleagues over meals and in the hallways.
ANR partners also joined the event, including members of the UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“Think about what California's agriculture would be like without Cooperative Extension,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, ex-officio PAC member and keynote speaker for the first day. “It doesn't just happen because of great farmers. It happens because of great partnerships. ANR is in every county.”
“I cannot tell you enough, what an asset you are to this state and to the industry that I love, agriculture, and to every consumer who has the joy of imbibing in our beverages and foods that come from these marvelous lands.”
Unique role in UC
On Tuesday afternoon, UC President Janet Napolitano joined the group. She called out ANR's work in climate change adaptation, agricultural innovation, food systems, food security, and nutrition education and noted the unique role it serves in advancing UC's Global Food, Carbon Neutrality, UC-Mexico initiatives.
She lauded 4-H for achieving parity in Latino youth participation in its programs, saying, “I think that says a lot about ANR's values and the impact it can have.”
Praising UCCE's outreach to economically disadvantaged Californians, the president said, “I'm going to continue to fight hard for funding for these programs at the federal level.”
Napolitano said she was pleased with the overall federal budget, noting that Congress increased funding for the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation. “The University of California gets more NIH and NSF funding than any other university in the country. Almost 10 percent of the NIH research budget comes to the University of California so we have a lot at stake in those federal funds.”
For updates on UC's state and federal budgets, Napolitano urged everyone to sign up at https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/support-uc/ucan.
On the Huron report recommendations for moving ANR out of the Office of the President's structure, Napolitano said she has appointed a committee to review the options and offer its own recommendations before the November regents meeting.
The crowd was inspired by Antwi Akom, UC San Francisco and San Francisco State University professor and founding director of Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab (SOUL) and co-founder and CEO of Streetwyze. In his presentation “Race, Space, Place and Waste: How Innovation, Education, and Inspiration Can Fearlessly Catalyze California Towards Becoming the World's Leader in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management,” Akom spoke passionately about building more pathways for a more diverse array of Californians to participate in ANR programs.
“That's the first time I've seen members of the audience follow a keynote speaker out of the room,” Mark Bell, vice provost for Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, later commented on the rock star treatment Akom received after his talk.
In her closing comments of the conference, Humiston said, “It was heartwarming to hear so many people tell legislators that ANR programs are important to them,” at the California Farm Bill hearing April 11 in Sacramento. If approved, the bill introduced by Assemblymember Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) would enable ANR to hire 45 more UCCE advisors and would offer incentives to adopt agricultural technology.
Concerning UC's budget challenges, Humiston said ANR is facing reductions in funding that will be absorbed through a slowdown in hiring and other means.
“There will be no layoffs. I took this job to grow ANR not shrink it,” she said emphatically. “The more the people of California understand what ANR does, the more they want us to thrive and be in place to better serve their needs.”
Humiston declared the conference productive and successful and thanked the Strategic Initiative leaders and conference and steering committee for planning the event and the Program Support Unit and volunteers for their hard work.
Doug Parker, Water SI, and Keith Nathaniel, Healthy Families and Communities SI, were the executive co-chairs and David Doll, Sustainable Food Systems; John Harper, Sustainable Natural Ecosystems; and Cheryl Wilen, Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases, were co-chairs.
The steering committee was composed of Michael Anderson, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UC Riverside; Mark Bell, Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs/Institutes; Sherry Cooper, Program Support Unit; John Fox, Human Resources; Chris Greer, UCCE San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties; Brad Hanson, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis; Darren Haver, South Coast Research and Extension Center and UCCE Orange County; Mike Janes, Strategic Communications; Maggi Kelly, Informatics and Geographic Information Systems and UC Berkeley; Neil McRoberts, Department of Plant Pathology, UC Davis; Katie Panarella, Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Program and Policy; Maurice Pitesky, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis; Joni Rippee, Program Planning and Evaluation; Rachel Surls, UCCE Los Angeles County; and Patti Wooten-Swanson, UCCE San Diego County.
ANR leadership plans to host the next ANR Statewide Conference in 2021.
Continue the conversations
To see snapshots from the conference on Twitter, search for the hashtag #UCANRconf2018.
If you missed the poster sessions, most of the project posters can be seen by clicking on the title links at http://ucanr.edu/sites/statewideconference2018/Posters_and_Displays.
“I've heard great things about a number of the sessions and have been discussing some follow-up ideas to build on concepts covered during some of those sessions,” Wendy Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog. “It would be a disappointment if we all left the meeting, got caught up in our obligations and programs, and didn't continue the conversations.”
- 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.
Kicking off the meeting by expressing sympathy for everyone affected by wildfires – including the ANR members and Master Gardener volunteers who lost their homes – UC President Janet Napolitano met with the President's Advisory Commission (PAC) at their biannual meeting Dec. 13 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Emeryville.
President Napolitano focused her remarks on the challenges that remain with our food system, saying that she sees endless possibilities for ANR to bring food and ag together with science and technology for agricultural innovation. She also praised ANR for expanding access to its programs and achieving parity in participation of Latino youth in 4-H activities.
Napolitano invited the PAC members to join the UC Advocacy Network, or UCAN, to keep informed about state and federal issues that impact the university.
VP Glenda Humiston introduced Anne Megaro, governmental and community relations director. Megaro, who has a Ph.D. in animal science and was the California State Senate Committee on Agriculture's consultant for five years, spoke about her background and discussed how she is working with academics to cultivate relationships with elected officials by sharing stories about their work.
“Every legislator should know ANR because we're in their district,” Megaro said.
“How can I help you talk about ANR?” she asked the PAC members, who responded positively.
Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer, described how the Internet of Things, data analysis, robotics, artificial intelligence, drones and plant biotechnology are helping farmers cope with challenges, including workforce shortages, water scarcity and pest pressure. The Apps for Ag hackathons have produced useful tools, but poor rural connectivity is limiting the benefits.
He also described the recently launched The VINE, which is designed to catalyze a statewide system to support innovation, entrepreneurship, expand economic opportunities and develop new technology for agriculture, natural resources and rural communities. Youtsey said food and agriculture need “patient capital” investors because venture capitalists desire a fast return on their investment.
Associate Vice President Wendy Powers briefed the commission on ANR's strategic plan. Our “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” is for every Californian to recognize the positive impact ANR has in their lives. The actions will be guided by UCANR's core values: excellence, community, innovation, inclusion, collaboration and integrity. Public value statements are being developed to shape our efforts and “they will give us the elevator speech to articulate who we are and what we do,” Powers said.
In the deans' updates, Keith Gilless announced that in June he will be stepping down as dean of the College of Natural Resources after 11 years to return to his academic work in fire research. Deans Helene Dillard of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Kathryn Uhrich of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Michael Lairmore of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Gilless shared news of awards and large grants received and major projects underway in their respective colleges and school.
In wrapping up the meeting, Humiston announced that Mike Mellano, Dina Moore and Jean Marie Peltier will represent California in Washington D.C. for the CARET (Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching) meeting in March to advocate for agricultural research and the Farm Bill.
She invited the PAC members to meet next in April in Ontario, in conjunction with the ANR statewide meeting.
University of California President Janet Napolitano today (August 14) sent the following letter to the UC community in response to the violence in Charlottesville:
To the University of California Community:
Over the weekend, our country experienced violent and tragic events on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. As the leader of the University of California, an institution dedicated to the vibrant and respectful exchange of ideas, I write to you today to condemn these hateful actions by white supremacists and to reaffirm UC's values of diversity and inclusion.
As I stated over the weekend, UC abhors the violence and hate displayed in Charlottesville that perverted Americans' right to speak freely. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at the University of Virginia in denouncing this shameful display and with the UVA students who bravely stood up to a crowd bent on violence. We offer our profound condolences to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, to all the individuals injured in the course of peaceful counterprotests, and to the Virginia state troopers who lost their lives.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants us all freedom of expression. University campuses in particular are meant to foster an exchange of ideas, and to teach students how to respectfully approach viewpoints different from their own — even when those viewpoints are offensive and hurtful. But the acts of domestic terrorism we saw in Charlottesville represented an assault on our cherished values of diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance. We must continue to speak and act against the shameful behavior we witnessed over the weekend and ensure that our colleges and universities, and our nation as a whole, remain safe and civil for all.
Diversity is a defining feature of the University of California and we embrace it as a necessary and valued part of our campus communities. I believe, as I know you do, that our differences — in race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, socioeconomic status, abilities, experience and more — make us stronger.
UC remains committed to providing a safe, supportive, responsive and equitable environment for every member of the university community. We reject all forms of discrimination, commit to fostering an atmosphere of respect and inclusion, and pledge to defend the right to free speech.
This summer and fall, as UC students, faculty and staff return to their campuses, I ask that we all recommit to these enduring values of diversity, equity and inclusion, and work to live up to these ideals in all that we do.
Yours very truly,