Weeds must love heat because they are constantly ahead of me in our garden beds. This made for a gardening weekend. And it looks like our last Japanese maple bush is not going to be around next year. A couple of hydrangeas are failing as well. The sago palms and blue agave are thriving. Perhaps they are in the weed family.
I made good progress on my project this weekend despite the garden time, pool time, and homework I needed to complete. As much as I complain about homework, I found myself adding 21 days of it to my calendar last week. During the Vice Chancellors for Research (VCR) meeting last week, the VCR from San Diego shared the 21-day Anti-Racism Challenge that UCSD is completing. The group of VCRs were quite interested in this activity and making a commitment to the challenge. The result is a well-spent hour or more each weekday, beginning last Friday, through September 4. The challenge will wind down right around the same time that pool season winds down. I know others in UC ANR are undertaking a similar challenge. There are several challenges available. Take a look by conducting a web search. The activities are informative on many levels. Some are TED talks, and I am a big fan of TED talks.
Many meetings again this week, of a varied sort. Tomorrow is a UC ANR strategic plan webinar focused on development of partnerships as a key strategy to address resource constraints. Partnerships are the foundation of Cooperative Extension and all aspects of UC ANR work. While continuing that tradition, the plan will emphasize development of novel partnerships so that we accomplish more without doing more or identify new resources that allow us to do more with more. One comment that we hear often is that people don't see themselves in the plan. I interpret that to mean that they either don't see how they can contribute to the success of the plan, or that they don't see their specific work (i.e. program area) called out as part of the plan. Real success of the plan has everyone contributing in some way and everyone contributes differently. The plan doesn't address what we do, from the standpoint of programmatic areas, but what we will do in order to continue or expand the programmatic work. If the comment means something other than my interpretation, I need more information to fully understand. Perhaps the meeting this week will shed some light for me.
On Friday, the team working on a strategic framework for the RECs will meet for several hours. In between now and Friday is Administrative Orientation, an ECOP meeting for the executive committee, a meeting with a portion of the Peer Review Committee, and various meetings with different units. My COVID workspace reached 93 degrees on Friday before the day ended. Perhaps this week will cool down some. If not, I will be ready for this weekend's gardening activities.
This week is flying by, Zooming by, actually. A number of meetings that occur every quarter hit the calendar this week. One of those was with the Academic Assembly Council. I was surprised at the new faces on AAC – the year seems to have gone by so quickly. Some of the AAC committee chairs agreed to an additional year. This is the case for Steven Worker and his role as chair of the Personnel Committee. Steven and the committee have been quite busy again this year. They have been working to provide greater clarity to the e-book. Last year the committee overhauled the book significantly. Fortunately, I believe this year's lift is a bit lighter.
The UC ANR strategic plan refresh is well underway. Attendance was strong at this week's input webinar. Those of us who will be sharing goals at next week's session are busy preparing slides and strategizing how best to share the goals to stimulate feedback and creative ideas for success with the goals. For those interested in attending, I suspect a reminder and registration link will be sent on Monday. We welcome the input and ideas!
The President's Advisory Commission Emerging Issues committee met today and continue to formulate their feedback for UC ANR priorities. One of the new PAC member, Paula Daniels, joined the group today and shared her work leading the LA Food Policy Council. She spoke highly of Gail Feenstra's efforts. This presentation followed a conversation last month brainstorming roles for UC ANR in building a resilient food network. The committee will continue its discussion later in August, before reporting out to the entire PAC at the end of the month. Key to the conversation is building resources to fund new priorities, in the absence of ideas about what to let go.
This afternoon I met with the Vice Chancellors for Research from the 10 campuses plus the directors of the three national labs. Keeping the UC research enterprise at the forefront of state budget decisions was front and center for the meeting. The VCRs talked about providing input to our new UC President about key opportunities at each campus. The pandemic was center stage in the conversation as well. While most campuses are operating at 25 to 30% of normal research intensity, COVID cases in researchers has remained low or zero. Hopefully, the return of undergraduate students to any extent will not be compromise continuation of research activity.
I started a new project over the weekend. It progresses faster than expected, likely attributable to not having followed the directions. I was able to make process improvement because I am uninhibited by the notion that I must follow the instructions. By so doing, I assumed the risk of having to start over. Given my experience in the project area, it was a risk worth taking. Depending on the situation, this won't always be the case.
Mark Bell sent a nice photo from his working vacation last week, during which I believe I had daily interaction with him. I don't know where he was when he took the photo though I suspect it was closer to Seattle than Davis. I am doing my best to be in vacation mode this week from 2 pm onward (or 3, or 4, depending on the day), minus cooking dinner.
Monday, several of the leadership team met with Mikael Villalobos from UC Davis. This was our second meeting with Mikael to learn from him and discuss learning opportunities for UC ANR, tapping into his expertise. Linda has worked with Mikael in the past. I am eager to see what trainings UC ANR offers this year and how they are received by prospective participants. Given that in-person trainings are on hold for a while, virtual trainings offer a nice option and avoid the need for travel time. We have observed increased participation by clientele in our offerings; I suspect we all may be more likely to participate in virtual learning sessions as well.
Yesterday I met with a small group to work on our REC Strategic Framework assignment focusing on one of the goals. I will admit that I am looking forward to not having 3 strategic plans on my list of activities in progress. In addition, I serve as a board member for a national leadership development program and we are working on a strategic plan for that program as well. I am a ‘planner' and fan of strategic plans, but this is a bit much, even for me. However, I learned a new collaboration application – Mural. Teams can use it within Zoom. It comes complete with sticky dots and voting tools. Mural can definitely make the virtual learning/work environment more interactive. Take a look. Kit has already forewarned that she might use it in our training session later today. Perhaps I will be fonder of virtual sticky dots. What's interesting in this application is that the host can track who has used what number of dots and confirm that participants did not place more than one dot on an item during voting.
Later this week, there is a meeting to hopefully move towards finalization of guidance on income generation. We are past due on needing such guidance and it will be more critical to think about income generation going forward.
In general, my, week becomes far less interesting as it progresses with routine COVID-19 calls for several hours on Thursday. No end in sight for those calls, but I remain ever optimistic that we will soon see signs of the pandemic winding down.
Have you heard about the groundbreaking accomplishment out of UC Riverside? Hailing Jin has identified a peptide that can kill the bacterium that causes citrus greening disease! This is great news for citrus growers and consumers of citrus!
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 statistics and news is far from good, with California cases on the rise and testing supplies running low in some areas. Jose Aguiar is doing his part to keep the new infections down. Take a look at the Public Service Announcement that Riverside County asked him to film. Hopefully, the County runs the PSA in Spanish and English. I'm curious if there are many more of these PSAs under development across the state. As trusted advisors, friends, and neighbors, it makes sense that counties recruit CE personnel to get the word out.
On Friday, I listened to Regent John Perez and the new UC President, Michael Drake. Dr. Drake spoke passionately about the need for public university engagement with communities and the public university's role in improving the lives of residents. It was as though he were reading our strategic plan as he spoke (see slide 24). He also talked about the need to lead efforts around societal challenges, such as climate change. President Drake referenced this year's World Food Prize winner, one of his faculty at Ohio State University. I have high hopes that the work of UC ANR becomes core to his messages of UC successes.
This week holds various meetings, including work on the UC ANR Strategic Plan update and meeting with the Peer Review and Academic Assembly Council Personnel Committees. Coupled with the REC Strategic Framework meeting that took place last week and a training series that starts in two weeks, I foresee a fair bit of homework in my near future. One of the activities requires journaling. I should have asked more questions upfront as homework has never resonated with me, much less keeping a journal. There's always room for personal growth and development. Perhaps, with practice, I will learn to like homework.
I have tuned in to a few TED talks recently, some of which seem to have translated into interesting action items that could bring long-term benefits to UC ANR in building support and funding resiliency. The action items are in addition to an impressive national effort that is both gaining momenta and taking up a bit of time. I look forward to sharing more details in the coming months. In the meantime, I need to think about my homework while enjoying the brief relief in temperatures.
I hear there was rain in some places yesterday! None in Lodi. I love the cooler weather, but rain means the garden will grow – more yard work! At the risk of upsetting all gardeners out there, I will admit that after spending close to 30 minutes pruning one rose hedge on Sunday, I took to the hedge trimmers for the remaining two. They may not look as good as they could, but they will grow back. And, if that philosophy is good enough for my self-haircuts, it is good enough for the garden.
Did you know that Program Council now reviews Emeritus requests and provides a recommendation to Vice President Humiston? The new practice is the result of policy changes that require some involvement of the Academic Senate during the review process. We are fortunate that 4 Academic Senate members are Program Council members. So far, the process has gone well. The question came up during the Academic Assembly Council meeting last week.
Today the ANR Governing Council met. Much of the conversation focused on updates to our strategic plan. Specifically, the Council provided input on what success looks like and how we will recognize success (metrics). I left with some ideas to improve a goal or two. I also left with a sense that the Governing Council understands the importance of UC ANR to the UC system. There was a strong sense that success means that ANR is considered an 'essential function' and 'key to the recovery of the California economy.'
Later in the day, I met with a group of Extension Directors from around the country, and we talked about the struggle to increase our capacity funding from the U.S. Government. One member of the group reminded us that the NIFA Director challenged us to develop a 'big, bold, audacious goal' such as solving food insecurity. Funding what we have always done isn't a draw for new funding. We discussed the idea of focusing on critical areas where we could build capacity around topics that would resonate now – security (financial and food), K-12 at home, rural health, and farmer stress.
There seemed a fair bit of overlap in the conversations between the ANR Governing Council and the meeting with Extension Directors. Both discussions included recommendations to focus on crucial objectives where failure is not an option. And both sessions included conversation around the new normal, with a sense that we aren't going back to pre-COVID times. Instead, we need to find a path forward and identify new opportunities along the way. One Extension Director cautioned us, "don't over study it; if you don't move, you are going to miss it."
I need to think a bit about what all of this means. I suspect it comes down to balancing the importance of planning, even when everything is uncertain, with not getting so locked into a plan that you forfeit the nimbleness necessary for seizing fleeting opportunities.