I seem to still be in a bit of a fog today. I am in Davis for the second day of Program Council. Yesterday's fog resulted in cancellation of flights for our two Program Council members from Riverside. Flights eventually left Ontario and they both made it before the first day of the meeting ended. Georgios Vidalakis, a CE Specialist at UCR, just joined Program Council so it was his first meeting. I can't help but wonder if Chris Greer made special note of the fact that he didn't have to attend this week after what may have been 8 years as a member. That leaves Rob Atwill (UCD Vet Med) as the most senior consistent member of Program Council (excluding facilitator and ex-officio members), followed by me!Tim Paine may have the most total years on Program Council, with a break here and there. I was already feeling a bit older yesterday even before we identified that factoid. Things change quickly everywhere.
The Strategic Initiative Leaders met before Program Council. They talked about conference/workshop ideas, a summer roadshow, and their priorities for the upcoming year. A few of the SI panels are seeking members so, please, consider if that might be something that interests you and reach out to the appropriate SI Leader. The SI panels are a terrific opportunity to build connections for your own program and gain a better sense of the work going on under each SI umbrella.
The rest of this week includes a couple of conversations about the possibility of some new partnerships, preparation for a strategic plan goal owners meeting that is next week, and wrapping up some loose ends that remain from before the winter break. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have any visits out to county offices or RECs scheduled anytime soon; perhaps that will change in the near future. It is such an inspiration to meet people from across ANR and hear about their work, their struggles, and the possibilities. January is a short month and other travel and work picks up quickly after February 1. Perhaps I should take advantage of the lighter schedule, stay under the umbrella, and avoid travel delays due to fog and rain.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2018 brings you and UC ANR great opportunity for success!
I had a chance to visit s few new places over the break though it was a bit cooler and overcast than ideal for some of them. But no complaining here, not when it was record low temps on New Year's Eve at several of my former zip codes yet we were able to spend some time outdoors in light sweaters that afternoon. The tradeoff is pending fear of a poor snow report. I spent some creative time trying to create my own version of the glass art at the UCCE San Joaquin demonstration garden. A few more visits to thrift shops are in order – not my favorite thing to do so this could take a while.
While things were quieter, much was happening across the state, not the least of which was the Thomas Fire that left many in UC ANR and UC on edge throughout a 3-week+ period. 10 News brought attention to one of the events that hosted in response to the fire damage from the Lilac Fire - an Emergency Avocado Citrus Post-Wildfire informational meeting that was held December 19 in Fallbrook. Sonia Rios and Gary Bender were two of the presenters at the meeting hosted by UC ANR in partnership with CAL FIRE, USDA FSA, San Diego County and Crop Production Services.
We were busy interviewing and talking with Strategic Initiative Leader candidates as well. There was much interest in the leadership appointments, likely a reflection of solid path set forth by those who have served in the roles previously. As David Doll, John Harper and Cheryl Wilen look forward to new adventures, please welcome Jim Farrar, David Lile, Neil McRoberts and Deanne Meyer as the new additions to the Strategic Initiative Leaders group, joined by Keith Nathaniel and Doug Parker who will continue in their SI Leader roles. No doubt David, John and Cheryl will be sought out for their wisdom and expertise – including attendance at the Program Council and SI Leaders meetings next week.
I suspect Chris Greer could have warned David, John and Cheryl that it's virtually impossible to leave a role behind! He continues to handle the HR function of the Vice Provost role while we search to fill Vice Provost positions. Two committees are working hard to identify candidates. David Lewis and his committee have identified 4 candidates to bring in on January 16-17 to interview for the position of Vice Provost – Research and Extension. Seminars will be available for remote participation as well as recorded.
There are some new faces and some faces in new places as well. Laurent Ahiablame started Dec 18 as the County Director and Water Quality and Management Advisor in San Diego County. Lorna Krkich started on Monday as the Executive Director for Fund Development, based out of Oakland. And Karl Lund started as a Viticulture Advisor in based in Madera, CA, with programmatic responsibilities in Madera, Merced, and Mariposa Counties. Ali Pourreza has transitioned from an Advisor based at the Kearney REC to a UC Davis-based Specialist. Congratulations and welcome to everyone!
Out like a lion, in like a honey badger, maybe?
It was nice to see a little rain this week – my car has been waiting for a light shower.
I mentioned before that the Vice Provost positions are posted. These are the ‘spots' previously held by Chris Greer (who continues to do a portion of his previous role) and Lisa Fischer. AS we failed the Vice Provost – Cooperative Extension position for the second time, I was reminded of something I heard from a former Vice Provost who said “never fail to make good use of a crisis”. As a result, the positions have been reconfigured and have responsibilities that are different from those positions held by Lisa and Chris. Given that Mark Bell is new and in a new position, I am relatively new, and these 2 positions were to be vacant, an opportunity presented itself to think about goals of UC ANR and then construct position descriptions to address those goals.
The goals, or performance criteria, represent a commitment to continuous improvement:
- Remain cost neutral
- Increase partnering between county-based UCCE and the RECs to leverage the assets of each unit and make the sum stronger than the individual pieces
- Enhance support for academics, particularly new academics
- Increase support for County Directors
- Develop positions that are attractive to recruitment and retention of strong applicants
It's too soon to measure success and nothing is ever perfect but the group of academics, staff, and senior leaders that worked on developing the positions thought outside the box and stayed true to the goals.
To address concerns about workload for one of the Vice Provost positions and address an additional goal to provide leadership opportunities without the requirement of a terminal degree or relocation while remaining committed to the foundation goals, above, 2 partial appointments for Assistant Vice Provosts are under recruitment. These positions are less defined and will be tailored to the appointed persons based on interests and strengths. It's a “build the plane as we fly it” approach but one that likely a good fit for those that like to build things. The flexibility is also, in part, a necessity given that a new Vice Provost will be on board during the appointment period. The Assistant Vice Provosts are key positions to help that Vice Provost get off to a strong start.
I'm a strong believer in looking for the silver lining of change. While perhaps a bit bumpy, it can be a very good thing if approached with a positive perspective. No doubt we are in the bumpy period, and will be for some period of time but the prospect of improving on the current state and bringing in new ideas whether it be to senior leadership, to the County Director Council which is now an expanded Research and Extension Council that includes both REC and County Directors, or the Strategic Initiatives that are recruiting for SI Leaders, is exciting. I'm anxious (in a positive way) to see what unfolds.
Tomorrow it is off to Riverside to meet with the CE Specialists. Later this week Academic Assembly Council meets. Thursday and Friday I'll be at the Kearney REC. Hard to believe we are nearing the end of October! I really need to get my ANR Competitive Grant reviews done – Program Council review is just around the corner.