My allergies are controlling me, again. I don't have any travel over the next 2 weeks so no reprieve in the short term. At least the heavy lift of yard work is done for a bit. And, I am down to 6 dossiers remaining for first review. I hope to knock out 1 or 2 of those today.
In the meantime, I've finished a project I had worked on for a while. As I've mentioned before, it would be an exaggeration to say that I enjoyed the project. But truth be told, given the outcome, I suspect I will undertake such a project again. Had the outcome not justified the means, I would not but, in this case, the toil was worthwhile. The process was new to me, contributing to both the excitement of a challenge and the frustration over having to read the instructions, repeatedly. However, the challenge wasn't difficult; it was time-consuming and new. The process took some getting used to, but what ‘new process' doesn't? At times, it seemed that this new process was wasteful but when I measured the actual waste, it turned out to be quite low. I guess things that appear to be destined to fail may, in fact, work out okay in the end provided you follow the directions and see things through to the end. Anyway, now I am on to a new project that requires more creativity with no instructions. We'll see how it turns out.
Yesterday was all about the budget. Glenda, Tu, Jan and I met for a few hours to put final touches on our annual presentation to the President then strategize about goals and how best to achieve them. Later, Jennifer joined us to review a limited number of budget requests. Of course, without knowing anything definitive about our FY19/20 budget, no final decisions could be made. The realist in me can't overlook the fact that public education, in general, needs to become increasingly creative in how it finds funding going forward; just following last year's directions doesn't suffice. Regardless of where we sit in the OP budget today, and what conversations are going on around the state, the reality is that UC ANR can't maintain all that it has had in the past if it relies on state and federal funding sources to be the provider. That's not to say that we don't seek as much as we can from those sources; just that the funds don't have the purchasing power they once did.
Tomorrow I have a chance to visit with the Academic Assembly Council before heading off to Program Council that will be held at the Hopland REC. This might be the first time I have visited Hopland when it wasn't raining! Weather aside, it is always nice to see John, Hannah, and the Hopland team.
Lots going on this week. For many, the week includes the Global Climate Action Summit and/or some of its many affiliated events. For others, it's a series of meetings and travel. This afternoon I received an update on Project Board, our new reporting system that many have provided input into and had a chance to preview as Kit Alviz, David Krause and team have developed it. It seems to be coming along nicely and 27 CE Specialists have already been in to use the site. Hopefully most, if not all, agree that it is an improvement of DANRIS-X.
Tomorrow I head off to visit UCCE in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. I haven't even had a chance to tell you about our visit to Santa Clara County yet so stay tuned; I'll be sure to get to that soon but there's a lot to talk about! Wednesday there is a CD Institute for new County Directors, followed by a Research and Extension Council meeting that evening. Thursday is a County Director meeting. I suppose on Friday many will be making plans for National Guacamole Day (September 16). I presume it's not a costume-based holiday but who knows how the folks at South Coast REC celebrate one of their big efforts.
Budget notices and information about Program Team funding, CE Specialist and AES faculty travel support, and other budget items are in the process of being shared. Despite a flat budget year and perhaps some disappointments that not all requests were possible, the workload was the same, if not larger, for Jennifer Bungee and the Resource, Planning, and Management. Thanks go out to that team for their hard work in pulling this together.
Just when the Mendocino complex fire winds down, we have another one taking off (Delta fire). The folks at Hopland REC are certainly trying to make the best use of their situation. Last week they hosted a webinar to talk about “Opportunities for Postfire Research at Hopland REC”. If you weren't able to join, take a listen to the webinar recording. Or, have a look at the resources associated with the webinar on our website at: http://bit.ly/HRECpostfire. Clearly Hannah, John and team have been busy pulling this together! Talk about a group of people who see the glass half full!
Often, I use these posts to say hello to a new member of UC ANR. Sadly, we too often say good bye. While I had only met Chuck Ingels a few times, I know his recent passing has been a blow to so many who worked with him for much of their career, if not his. A Celebration of Life is planned for Chuck Ingels on September 26 at 2 PM. The celebration will be held at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, which is adjacent to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center that was so important to Chuck and a place the reflects his accomplishments. Donations in memory of Chuck may be made to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center (FOHC) online at http://sacmg.ucanr.edu/ (designate FOHC in the drop-down menu). A memorial at FOHC will be announced and unveiled at a later date.
A friend sent me this article by the founder of Squarespace from the current issue of Southwest's magazine. I'm not sure if it was sent to me because I often read the magazine or because it is so fitting. I am guilty of always wanting to define the performance criteria and then establish design criteria. But, what other way is there? Just do what one has always done? Design something without any consideration of the performance needs? Clearly I need to think about this a bit more.
The big lesson in the article is that “what made you successful in the past isn't necessarily going to make you successful in the future”. Often that can be difficult to accept, particularly when one enjoys the way things have been. But it's difficult to ignore the wisdom in that statement. Thus, like any organization or business, we need to continue to evolve to meet current needs and wants. That means different programming, in different ways, and to different audiences. While this isn't a bad thing, it is uncomfortable at times. I often think about the TED talk that proposes “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”. I have a long list of TED talks to watch but that's one I like to go back to every now and then.
Because I happened to be on a Southwest flight last week, I flipped through the magazine. In addition to that article by the CEO of Squarespace, a few other things stood out. First, was a piece about Southwest's commitment to and support of STEM education for youth. Once again, I found myself wondering if the company has a grant or scholarship program available and how the 4-H program might partner with Southwest. The other thing that stood out was a quote that I don't remember exactly but it was to the effect of the following.
An early or big win builds complacency. Repeatedly hearing ‘no' leads one to just stop trying. As a result, failure is the only clear path to success.
That was true in grad school; I learned a whole lot more through failure than I ever did from getting it right the first time. But I hope the statement doesn't always apply.
We are still wrestling with the budget. As a result funds for Program Teams, CE Specialist and AES funds to work with CE Advisors, and program support dollars have not yet been released. It's a challenge to find the funds to cover the shortfall and minimize the impact it has on people while leaving the division in a position to better weather the future. We can't do it without causing pain and discomfort but in this case, failure is not the path to success.
Regardless of whether or not the groundhog saw his shadow, budgets were due this week. The Resource Planning & Management team goes to great lengths to improve, streamline and clarify the process but even so there's a mad rush to get things in on time. Given what we are hearing about state and federal budgets, preparing the UC ANR unit budgets had unit directors not needing to spend much time dreaming about increasing budget requests but rather figuring out how to do more in a way that is cost-neutral, at best.
Fortunately, we have Zoom which really helps reduce travel and still provide more of a face-to-face experience than Skype or Adobe Connect ever did. Program Council used Zoom at the meeting earlier this month and for the topics covered and the time it saved those not in Davis, I think it was a great option, saving time and travel expense for most of the Program Council members. It's a sound step towards a goal of reducing travel expenditures.
The 2018 position call process is now open so between that and budget season as well as requests to fill positions off-cycle, recruiting for on-cycle positions, and restructuring administrative positions in a cost-neutral manner, I've been mentally summing up the cost to fill a vacancy. When you consider the cost to advertise, interview, relocate, and provide start up, it's staggering. Rough estimates suggest that Specialist positions need to be open for almost 2 years in order to accrue sufficient salary savings to put a new person in place; Advisor positions about 6 months assuming the positions are filled during the first recruitment. The difference is the startup package. I guess this explains why positions at most universities aren't open for recruitment until after a vacancy has occurred as opposed to a forthcoming, or planned, departure.
While that may seem like gloom and doom, I believe our numbers of academics are up over last quarter. I'm eagerly awaiting the numbers later this month and will share them as well as last quarter's. Because people come and go throughout the year, a snapshot isn't as useful as seeing changes quarterly. Hopefully it doesn't look like my fun curve but no doubt there are ups and downs.
The World Ag Expo is over for 2018! There was good traffic through the UC ANR tent for the period of time I was there. Surendra Dara (@calstrawberries) seemed to have a good-sized crowd. A few of us took a tour of the Vet Med Teaching and Research Center in Tulare today – incredible new facility there that Jeff Dahlberg and I guess had to cost $100 million and counting while it wraps up construction. Tomorrow I have an opportunity to meet with Kevin Day and his team that work out of Kings and Tulare Counties though a few have other commitments.
More travel next week so I'm looking forward to 3 nights at home where I don't have to wonder what plumber thought it was a good idea to install the shower head at a height of 5' 2”, be surprised to learn, first hand, that they do still sell cars without remote entry and clocks in them, fight with the car gadgets to figure out how to turn on the headlights.
I ended up having to wash my car the traditional way. But what was surprising was a conversation I heard that revolved around the challenges that small bit of rain we had would create for farmers. I still haven't fully acclimated to the climatic differences between my new home and past venues. Sure, when Florida received 8 inches of rain over the course of a business day there were challenges (i.e. sinkholes) but who would have thought that in other locations an hour of light rain might wreak havoc.
I've started into reviewing 73 merit and promotion packages and while the time commitment to thoroughly review is a bit daunting, it is so rewarding and impressive to read about the accomplishments of the UC ANR academics! No doubt I would be violating confidentiality policies to share anything specific but I wish there were some mechanism for all of us to readily see just how much cool stuff happens across the division. You've probably seen for yourself that there are amazing people in UC ANR accomplishing incredible things; demonstrating leadership and commitment.
Speaking of cool things, as I flew over Tahoe this morning I recalled seeing some of Joni Rippee's photos from last weekend when she flew in a C17 Globemaster III to observe a refueling exercise. It was part of a ‘Bosslift' event at Travis AFB with SMSgt Michelle Hammer Coffer (a reserve mechanic). Thanks to Michelle for her service and to Joni for supporting Michelle in her work!
I think we've wrapped up the regular budget call meetings for the new fiscal year. Jennifer and Yuhang spent a ton of time with unit directors preparing requests and keeping everything straight as versions worked their way through the various review groups. This was my first time through such an intensive review process for making budgetary decisions. Now Jennifer's team has the task of preparing all of the letters. Given fiscal close is upon us, it will take considerable effort on their part to get letters out in early July. I suspect the only way to move letters earlier next year would be to advance the submission deadline into January; an option for sure but regardless of when it is, there's always many other things on everyone's to-do list making no timeline ideal.
I've got to get working on the Town Hall webinar presentation in between merit and promotion packages and a several meetings next week. It seems like I haven't been out in counties too much lately; need to get back to that and see what might fit into the summer calendar.
I hope everyone's got plans for some R&R this summer, now that it is about to feel like summer again!