- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
We thank the following UC ANR employees for their many years of contributions to improve the lives of Californians. Best wishes to all of them in their retirement years.
Rafael “Merf” Solorio, superintendent, West Side REC, 31 years
Jeannette Warnert, communications specialist, 31 years
Melanie Caruso, Program Planning and Evaluation research administrator, 28 years
Scott Parker, Master Gardener community education specialist, UCCE San Diego County, 22 years
Chutima Ganthavorn, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, 22 years
Rosemary Carter, Program Manager, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC, Placer and Nevada counties, 20 years
Will Suckow, senior artist, 20 years
Cheryl Fraser, 4-H community education specialist, UCCE Alameda County, 15 years
Mary Vlandis, Human Resources, 13 years
Hilda Perez, nutrition educator, EFNEP, Orange County, 13 years
Armando Silva, farm machinery mechanic, Desert REC, 10 years
Nancy Starr, assistant II, UCCE Central Sierra, 10 years
Emily LaRue, associate director, UCCE Business Operations Unit, 6 years
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Jeannette Warnert retired July 1 after serving 31 years as a communications specialist for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The editor of Western Farm Press, Tim Hearden, expressed his appreciation for Warnert's media relations expertise, writing, “We'll miss Jeannette's work and the help she's provided over the years.”
Communications methods have rapidly evolved over the past three decades. To ANR's benefit, Warnert has been an enthusiastic early adopter, figuring out how to use new media to deliver ANR news.
“When I started with UC ANR, there was no internet and no email,” Warnert said. “We photocopied news releases and mailed them to media, who transcribed them if they wanted to use the material. Film was dropped off at a lab, which provided us a proof sheet from which we could select black-and-white prints to mail to the media. Our jobs evolved rapidly and we had to continually update our skills as new technologies were introduced over the years.”
Along the way, she tutored her colleagues to use the World Wide Web and social media to disseminate information.
“I'm continually impressed by Jeannette's work ethic, can-do attitude, the quality of her writing, and her willingness to take on new projects,” said Linda Forbes, Strategic Communications director. “She is incredibly organized, always reliable, has great ideas and she's passionate about ANR's mission and people.”
Before joining UC ANR, Warnert worked as a reporter at a small daily newspaper in Los Angeles, in a hospital public relations department and in public relations for Toyota Motor Sales. After marrying and moving to Fresno, she worked briefly for the Fresno Fair and Radio Bilingue, then accepted the UC ANR public information representative job in 1990.
“I've enjoyed the opportunity to learn about agricultural science and work with so many intelligent and dedicated academics and staff,” Warnert said. “Knowing about the work of UC ANR makes me hopeful about the future, even as we face so many threats like drought, wildfire, climate change, invasive pests, etc. I especially enjoyed covering conservation agriculture for more than 20 years with stories about the potential for no-till and cover crops to improve soil health, sequester carbon, reduce dust emissions and use less water while maintaining farms' economic viability.”
Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension conservation agriculture specialist based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, described her as a “wonderful encourager and lifelong very good friend.”
“I consider Jeannette Warnert one of the exceptionally valuable workgroup colleagues that we could have ever had,” Mitchell said. “She was ever-ready in the trenches during our early formative days with superbly crafted communications, clear advice and guidance on outreach issues, and just an all-around level-headed colleague. She contributed so much to all that we have done over the years.”
Warnert, whose parents immigrated from The Netherlands, is fluent in conversational Spanish and often collaborated with the News and Information Outreach in Spanish team.
“Jeannette is one of a kind and will be truly missed,” said NOS' Lisa Rawleigh. “She has been a very helpful coworker with such a cheerful attitude and professionalism. She has done so much for us at NOS. I especially will cherish the meetings in Riverside when we were trying to get our webpage started and our conversations in Spanish talking about our kids and family vacations.”
In retirement, Warnert plans to spend more time with family – including her baby granddaughter and 90-year-old mother. “I hope to volunteer with the California Naturalist program and plan to apply to be a UC Master Gardener volunteer in Fresno County when the next class opens,” she said. “I'm also looking forward to more traveling, hiking, gardening, knitting, sewing and cooking.”
- Author: LeChé McGill
The UC ANR Staff Assembly Council will hold a Staff Assembly Ambassadors meeting at the ANR Building in Davis on Oct. 10. The engagement will provide an opportunity for ambassadors to visit and network with colleagues and review Staff Assembly priorities. Additionally, they will discuss opportunities for staff to become more involved in addressing staff concerns and furthering organizational goals.
In an effort to help spread the word about UC ANR Staff Assembly, all Staff Assembly members will receive a We Are UC ANR Staff Assembly tote bag. Members of the UC Staff Assembly include all ANR staff, whether employed by the county or the university, represented by a union or not represented. UC ANR Staff Assembly Ambassadors are the points of contact for distributing the bags at each office.
CUCSA Fall 2017 Meeting
UC San Diego was the site of the CUCSA (Council of University of California Staff Assemblies) Fall 2017 Meeting Sept. 6-8. The meeting included a team building exercise, work group action planning, post retirement health benefit discussions and a review of UC Employee Engagement Survey results. UC ANR junior delegate LeChé McGill and senior delegate Jeannette Warnert represented UC ANR staff at the meeting.
On the subject of potential changes to post-retirement health benefits, CUCSA chair Lina Layiktez provided the summary below and links for more information.
Proposed change to post-retirement health benefits
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.
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 UC 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.
On behalf of the Work Environment Assessment Committee, we want to thank all who volunteered to be part of statewide committees to create an ANR Staff Assembly and to develop UC ANR Principles of Community. Response throughout the six regional workshops was tremendous and we appreciate your enthusiasm.
From the list of nearly 50 volunteers, committee rosters were developed that balance people from different areas of the state and different job responsibilities in order to provide a diverse representation of UC ANR. For those not selected, we sincerely appreciate your willingness to serve and to be part of these committees.
Here are the committee members:
UC ANR Staff Assembly
UC ANR Principles of Community
The Staff Assembly will be a mechanism through which non-academic staff will be able to voice their issues, concerns and suggestions. The committee will meet throughout the fall and then provide a report to UC ANR Senior Leadership in February 2016.
The Principles of Community Committee will also work throughout the fall, taking the input from all of the Work Environment Assessment Workshops. The committee will work together to develop a draft set of Principles of Community for UC ANR by February 2016.
Both committees will reach out for feedback and will provide updates on a regular basis.
Thank you again to our volunteers who stepped up to create the first UC ANR Staff Assembly and to develop our own UC ANR Principles of Community.
Jan Corlett, chief of staff to the vice president
Linda Marie Manton, executive director for ANR Staff Personnel