I have to admit that there are days I miss the 9-min commute. This morning was one of those days. I slept in 30 min later than my usual Oakland day wake up because I was driving all the way to Oakland rather than taking the BART from Pittsburg and I didn't want to arrive much before 6 AM. Had I left at my usual time I would have been ahead of the crash; had I snoozed only once instead of twice I may have been right in the middle of it. As it turned out, I was behind the crash only far enough that I sat for an hour before Highway 12 closed altogether and I had to cross the center lane and return home. In my past life if there were heavy rains a small piece of one road would flood and I would have to drive 3 miles out of the way to detour. Though I have only traveled this route for about 6 months, I have no doubt the fatal crash was the result of taking unusual risks to get somewhere a mere few minutes earlier. Sometimes there is something to be said for being careful, albeit a bit slow.
This month we made real progress on the strategic plan goal to improve the competitiveness of CE Advisor pay. It took quite a bit of time to make these strides because of the need to ensure we could achieve our goal of increasing salary competitiveness without compromising our goal of increasing the academic footprint. VP Humiston approved a four-year plan to increase annual pay for CE Advisors, and all CE Advisors are receiving increases effective October 1. CE Advisor pay has been a long-standing concern for ANR, and the four-year plan represents a significant investment in our people. The CE Advisors are essential to everything we do at ANR, and this plan recognizes their critical role. More background information is linked from the Strategic Plan website.
The CE Advisor salary plan was only a small part of the agenda of last week's Academic Assembly Council. Other topics that ensued during the time I attended included the position call process, Professional Development Fund uses, and REC recharge rates. We also discussed making a change to the bylaws to provide for election of a member to serve on Program Council. It was a full agenda for the AAC.
One thing that is not progressing slowly is the calendar. Can you believe tomorrow is Halloween already! And it seems dark so early now – next week that condition only worsens! With the end of the month near, this also means that some important leadership opportunity deadlines are fast approaching. If you have ever thought about serving as a Strategic Initiative Leader, be sure to consider throwing your name in the hat before the November 6 deadline. Application information is available the three Strategic Initiatives that have leadership openings. If you have County Director or REC Director experience, consider devoting a portion of your time towards serving as an Assistant Vice Provost. These are 2-yr appointments, 10 hours per week on average, and won't result in a greater number of direct reports, relocation or increased travel. An email was sent to all academics on October 12 with information about how to indicate your interest.
Looking at this week's calendar, I clearly need to wrap up my UC ANR Competitive Grant reviews. And the reminder from Katherine Webb-Martinez that Program Council members owe her something before Friday only reinforces the looming deadline.
How did it get to be Thursday? It must be the Monday holiday that is throwing me off. I spent the weekend driving from Michigan to California for what I believe to be my last time doing that! It was far cooler in Michigan, quite nice actually, and I had a chance to see a graduate student who is moving on to her career and my former technician who is doing quite well in her new position. I have 1 graduate student to complete who should finish in December and he just had one of his 3 dissertation manuscripts accepted for publication. I am hoping a second is accepted before his defense as that usually makes for an easier defense exam. This reminds me that I need to check in on him and prod a bit for the draft of his next manuscript. Of course I still have one from my other graduate student and one from my technician to get off my desk but perhaps this weekend. You would think now that I have completed the review of dossiers for faculty seeking promotion at other universities and turned down requests to review a few others, I would see time in the near future to get to these manuscripts. But with a few other 'must dos' on the docket and a half dozed to dozen UC ANR competitive grant proposal reviews in my near future there isn't an obvious weekend to knock these out. I promised something to Jim Downing in the next couple of weeks as well - clearly didn't think that one through.
Tuesday MatthewShapero started as the Assistant Cooperative Extension Advisor, Area Livestock and Range Advisor in Ventura, with programmatic responsibilities in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. We are excited to have Matthew in that position. Please be sure to welcome him to UC ANR.
This week Program Council met and we had some really great conversations about communications as well as updates from the Communications Advisory Board and CSIT. We also had some updates about the UC ANR Archive project that is run out of UC Merced and the UCB Graduate Students in Extension pilot project. Program Council also discussed the next steps for completing reviews and making funding recommendations for the UC ANR Competitive Grant submissions, the upcoming position call process, and status of strategic plan goals, particularly Goal 5.
Today is VP Council and Executive Council. Between those two meetings the day is just about full. I had better get started on some things. I need to review proposed edits from the REC directors about a message regarding the research rates at the RECs and then think through yesterday's conversations about how to move forward with upcoming vacancies in leadership positions. Good thing I have some commute time to try to sort through these topics and more.
Time just flies by – and I seem to get further and further behind on things, despite my best efforts! Sound familiar? I consider myself proficient in time use but am always open to ideas how to become more efficient in accomplishing tasks. If anyone has some tips, I would love to hear them.
At Program Council this week we had a presentation from Brad Hanson about the Research and Information Centers. After almost a year at UC ANR, I have only recently been exposed to these information hubs. What a great platform to pull together expertise across UC ANR (multi-campus, multi-county, UCCE, AES) and lead delivery of on-demand, science-based information to clients everywhere. I'm looking forward to some plane time so that I can dig into the 2016 annual report Brad provided and learn more about the reach and impact of the RICs. The discussion hit on topics that are likely pervasive throughout UC ANR; that is, keeping content current, resource allocation to manage content, and making information easy to find. At the end of the day it's all about the end-user – determining how best to make it easy for that end-user to find trusted information and tools that translates to making a difference. And the greater our reach, the bigger the difference we can make. Efficiency is at least a piece of the equation. Competition doesn't have to be.
Program Council discussed the differences between academics with and without equivalent status. Not surprising there was strong commitment to the fact that the work of UCCE academics is as important as that of academics with professorial and agronomist titles. We talked through a matrix that outlined differences and similarities between different titles and I think we all learned some things. We also talked about the 2018 position call process and affirmed the value of broad input to identify position needs as well as thoughts around providing some guidance about broad based groups vetting ideas early as a means of helping Program Council prioritize the many needs within the division. The Program Council will also look at ways to gain more of a statewide perspective and assessment of strengths and gaps as part of the upcoming process. More discussion is needed on this topic. Other topics were identified for upcoming meetings. Each month it seems like we should end early on the second day of Program Council – we start out ahead and then slowly lose time as the day progresses. But the discussions are robust and there doesn't seem to be a shortage of topics. It leaves me with a long list of ideas to ponder for action.
It's time to look forward to rain now; quite a change from a few months ago. If it doesn't rain soon I am going to have to find a car wash before it is impossible to tell that the license plates are finally changed.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable long weekend. Summer seems to have kicked off with nice temps throughout CA – not too hot; not too cold. This week is a bit of a slow week for me. Tuesday is pretty full with meetings, including a meeting with Specialists at UC Davis. I don't think I've met with the Specialists there since the fall so I am long overdue. I am hoping to spend more time on the campuses now that Mark Bell is on board but with the information sessions throughout the summer and a host of other things already on the calendar, it looks like it will be fall before I can act on that goal. But I suspect most Specialists will be in the field or trying to take some much deserved R&R before students head back and campuses are in full swing again in the fall. The rest of the week will be used for preparing for next week's Program Council meeting and a few other things that will be occurring throughout June. Not to mention I need to put aside a fair bit of time to read through merit and promotion packages. I plan to get started on that yet this week.
The June Program Council meeting has a full agenda. One item is to talk about the Position Call process that will begin in early 2018. Though I haven't been through a complete process yet, it sounds like each round has been considered by many as an improvement over previous calls. That's certainly the goal for the upcoming round – identify where we can make improvements to the process to thereby improving the outcome. I am l to looking forward to the Program Council discussion to hear how those who have been involved for a few cycles perceive the present process and hear their thoughts on moving forward. The Strategic Initiative Leaders will be meeting before Program Council meets and I believe one item of discussion will be rotation of SI Leaders. The two topics certainly aren't independent of each other given the time commitment the SI Leaders provide to Program Council and associated activities such as the review process for the various grant programs with their panels. My understanding is that the position call process and the grants program shifted to alternate years in order to make the time commitment for the two activities more manageable. It's not unusual to run into a new challenge as a result of removing a different barrier. One challenge I see with an every other year position call process is that laying out 2 years of positions to be filled presents little flexibility in addressing those unexpected vacancies. Perhaps we will find a way to address this.
Later this month UC ANR has its annual review meeting with the President. This gives us the opportunity to provide an update on strategic plan progress. Once those materials are prepared, they will be shared on the website for all to see. The meeting with President Napolitano is late June so be sure to check the website at the end of the month. Updates on Goal 5 should appear before then, now that there are Public Value Statements available as a first cut. These will continue to evolve, another example of improving as we go through the process.
Spring is in the air and my reprieve from allergies is over. There is no question my immune system has acclimated to California and is not pleased with the blowing pollen. This became readily apparent to me when I pulled into the Lodi area last Friday. The Global Food Initiative Fellows were on a tour of agriculture. Bent Holtz, Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, Paul Verdegaal, Brenna Aegerter and Karrie Reid were with the group for the day so the Fellows were in very good hands! It sounds like the group was highly engaged with their tour stops (a winery, cherry processing at Morada Produce, Staten Island, and an almond orchard plus a couple of presentations about UCCE programs back at the San Joaquin County office). I was unable to attend the tour stops but my sense was that the cherry pack line was a favorite. I have added Staten Island to my bucket list of places to see next winter, in addition to a more formal visit to the San Joaquin UCCE office in the near future. I did get a chance to speak briefly to The Nature Conservancy partner who spoke to the group about the relationship between agriculture, resource management and the environment as it relates to the work on Staten Island. The most important thing to come of the day was a better appreciation by 18 undergraduate and graduate students from across UC of what it means to farm in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the importance of that region to food security. The day was an outstanding display of the many partnerships across UC and the role UC ANR plays in successful agricultural production in the Delta.
I was particularly excited to see everything going on in San Joaquin County now that I am very close to becoming a resident of the county! But, yes, I still have Michigan plates. In my defense, it is a process and I really don't care to take time away from work to wait in line. I have passed the Smog check (a bit of a surprise). Now I need to pass the written driver's ‘knowledge test'. Rather than study for it, I have opted to complain about it so we will see if that turns out to be the best strategy.
Today I headed off to Program Council, held down at the Hansen REC. Google Maps sent me to the Sacramento airport a different route from my usual. It reminded me how uncomfortable change can be. But I made it in plenty of time for the flight and saw some new things along the way. We started Program Council with field tours hosted by the local advisors (thanks to Ben, Sabrina, Andre, Jose and Jim!) that included an insectary, an avocado pack house and the Hendrick Reserve – all very nice but the pack line was my personal favorite because of the tech toys. Topics for the meeting tomorrow include the next steps for the competitive grants process. The list of letters of intent recommended for submission as full proposals was released. We will also talk about core issues for reporting our work. We will also provide the Program Council with updates on the Opportunity Grant program. By mid-afternoon everyone will head back home. Thanks to everyone in Ventura County for the tours and conversations! It was a nice change in pace from 2 days in a meeting room.