We wrap up the 5-location Information Sessions on Friday of this week, with 3 of those five sessions taking place the last portion of the week. It has been nice to get out and see those whom I don't often get a chance to see. Also, there have been some new folks that I hadn't met in person yet. For the summer, these five sessions took the place of county office and REC visits. Once summer ends, I will have to assess my schedule. However, I welcome any invitations to come out to your area and meet with the local team. Visits can be as long or short as the hosts' desire and be anything from an informal conversation around a table to an action-packed agenda with tight timelines. For me, the emphasis is on the connection and not the format.
Back in the office, I'm working to diversify our funding sources and build resiliency against the uncertainty of state and federal funding sources. The goals are to 1) develop capacity throughout the state, reducing the reality of too much work with too few people, and 2) provide more resources to do the work. I'm not alone if the effort; a number of us are working towards these goals, not for our individual programs but the broader UC ANR. The strategy is to identify opportunities for specific programs and secure additional resources. By so doing, the tide rises to lift all boats. Some examples include:
- Securing a $500,000 gift to expand the CalNat program, with a goal of building on that gift for a long-term sustained expansion of the program;
- Secured funding of $500,000 that was matched by the UC President's Office to provide the UC Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection, held by Georgios Vidalakis;
- Received $19M in state funding for structural improvements at 3 RECs plus Elkus Ranch, an amount that far exceeds all funds received previously for this purpose;
- Developed partnership agreements to co-fund 6 CE Advisor position and 2 CE Specialist positions. Partners included a state agency (2 positions), 2 UC campuses, one commodity group (2 positions), and two counties. An agreement is under review by a third county for a 7th CE Advisor position. Additional conversations with new partners are in various stages;
- Established 10 Community Education Specialist position, funded by CDFA, to work in Climate Smart Agriculture by leveraging our academic network;
- Worked with one County government officials to secure funding for FY18/19 and increase it in FY19/20, following three consecutive years without funding (other than space);
- Worked with one County government office to prevent removal of funding proposed as a result of a significant structural deficit in the County;
- Implemented new annual giving strategies, resulting in a total revenue increase of in FY18/19, compared to FY17/18;
- Establishment of funding campaigns to stabilize funding for Community Education Specialist positions in both 4-H and Master Gardener programs.
None of these successes happened overnight. Each required numerous conversations with donors or partners to determine common goals and establish a path forward. Following, continued maintenance of the relationship remains essential, requiring continuous time and effort.
The above accomplishments contribute to different 'slices' of our funding sources pie, making it perhaps appear as less significant accomplishments than say a $10M donation. Some of the above achievements represent Competitive Grants and Extramural Contracts, while others increase the County funds slice of the pie, and yet other strategies add to the Endowment Income slice. But that's part of the plan – to garner support for the breadth of work across UC ANR.
While not everyone feels a direct benefit from the efforts yet, over time everyone wins, even if it is in some small way (averting a funding crisis, maintenance of program support despite a flat state budget, one more person in the office delivering a program, etc.). No question that a $10M donation to a specific program or building fund is great, but I'm just as happy to spread the wealth a bit more even if it takes time for everyone to feel the victory. Like any condition change, this, too takes time.
Today was full of meetings. Strategic plan goal owners met to talk about progress on the plan, identify successes and obstacles, remind each other that we have a Wednesday deadline to provide updates into the Smartsheet project tracker. I hope to complete my updates early tomorrow morning.
Following the goal owner meeting, a number of us moved to the other end of the building to meet with the Development Services team and catch up on achievements around the state as well as prioritize the team efforts. There are many recent successes out in the counties. Congratulations to everyone who has been working with donors and partners! Even if you haven't realized a success, yet, the effort deserves a celebration.
The next meeting was to start to process of improving the UC ANR website, beyond the recent refresh that only addressed the first layer of the framework. Like Project Board, this entails a long process and sizable investment. We have to start somewhere. During the meeting, Hans Gude talked about risks in the process – outcome, process, and project risks.
After I complete my goal updates tomorrow, I head to the President's Advisory Committee meeting in Oakland. While the President is unable to attend, her office will be represented. Among other topics, Doug Parker and Secretary Karen Ross will provide an overview of our recent agreement with CDFA to increase implementation of climate-smart farm practices. The presentation will give Doug a chance to brag about the fantastic Community Education Specialists we've been fortunate enough to hire as a result of the partnership with CDFA. Though he might be jet-lagged a bit, I'm sure Doug is looking forward to the meeting. Doug, Glenda, and Sherry Cooper just returned from Spain over the weekend. They attended the Rosenberg Forum while in Spain.
Amidst meetings, jet-lag or whatever happens to be on your calendar, please don't forget a few key dates and items:
Wednesday, May 1, is UC Walks. Try to get out and enjoy the great weather and don't forget your antihistamines. Last year, I had the great pleasure of walking with the Fresno County team through the Garden of the Sun – what a fun walk!
May 15 is the last day to Raise Your Hand in support of 4-H. I noticed that Ohio is boasting over 17,000 hands raised. Surely we can beat out Ohio!
I hope everyone's meetings go well this week!
In between finishing up the merit and promotion packages, I did some gardening this weekend. My favorite plant on the property was in bloom. Unfortunately, it's not one of the plants that needs thinning and clearly doesn't spread like so many others we have (trumpet vines, calla lilies, cannas, among others) and I have no idea what it is. So consider this a trivia question and let me know if you recognize this plant.
Some think gardening is relaxing. I seem to approach it more as a full contact sport. I guess it's a matter of perspective. For example, I'm challenged to find the benefits to dividing California into 3 states but, clearly others find this a good idea. Who knows, I may be enlightened over the next few months. Right now, I struggle to see what such a change would mean to the University of California system. That could definitely make deciding between the Blue, the Gold, or a modified state for UC ANR appear a much simpler task.
Before the end of the week I need to put together a presentation about ‘what UC ANR program delivery looks like' to share with the ANR Advisory Committee early next week. I haven't decided yet what that presentation looks like. In the meantime, we have our annual meeting with President Napolitano on Thursday afternoon. We'll focus on progress made on our strategic plan goals. If you haven't visited the strategic plan website lately, take a look at the document now posted that provides updates on recent accomplishments. This will be updated 3 to 4 times per year so stop back in a few months to review the updated version.
One of the accomplishments outlined is the development of shared positions through new partnerships. As a result of a new financial partnership with NRCS, Anthony Fulford has joined UC ANR! Anthony started today as a CE Advisor, Nutrient Management and Soil Quality, based in Modesto, CA, with programmatic responsibilities in Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin Counties. Please take a minute to welcome Anthony.
Thursday is also the second WebANR where Nancy Franz will be joining us to talk about how the Public Value Statements are a strategy to help focus one's efforts, among other purposes. Like last month's webinar, it will be recorded in case you are unable to join the conversation live.
With Thursday promising to be a busy day, I'll be sure to give you an update on anything exciting that may happen. In the meantime, I'm staying out of the garden.
Make good use of the longest day of 2018!
After a quarterly meeting with the goal owners of the strategic plan, I headed to Ukiah this afternoon. It was definitely the driest I have seen Hopland, making it a beautiful drive up 101. No wonder the coastal area is home to some of California's happiest cows. I passed San Quentin on the drive. I haven't spent much time wondering where San Quentin actually was so I was surprised to come across it; still so much to see in the state. While I didn't stop in there, I will be stopping in at the Hopland REC tomorrow for the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting.
At the goal owners meeting we focused on how to share the accomplishments of the strategic plan and how those accomplishments position ANR and all of the people in ANR for success. Accomplishments such as:
- A 12% increase in Contracts and Grants for the first 2 quarters of 2017-18, compared to the previous year. This means more resources to conduct programming.
- Development of new partnerships that translates into 3 Advisor/Specialist position FTE becoming 6 full-time positions, thereby making headway towards increasing the academic footprint.
These are just a couple of examples; more to be shared in future posts. Please share your thoughts on other methods for sharing the news as we move through the strategic plan timeline.
The group also spent time talking about the goal of ensuring that ANR is a happy place to be. While we need to be realistic and acknowledge that we are all working and ANR isn't intended to be Disneyworld, many are focused on making the work experience more rewarding and enjoyable. Development of a survey to establish a baseline and identify areas for improvement is on the ‘to-do' list.
It is clearly graduation season. A number of the County and REC Directors shared last week that they have graduates this year. Among those with college graduate: Roger Duncan, Jairo Diaz, Deb Driskill and Mark Bell. I think Mark won the contest for graduation destinations; he was in Honolulu last week to attend his daughter's graduation from nursing school. Take a look at his happy place. I had enough trouble showing up for class in Ithaca; I can't imagine ever making it to class if I was near the ocean.
Tomorrow night I head to Fresno. On Wednesday I am meeting with the UCCE group. We start our day with a UC Walks trip through the Garden of the Sun followed by some program visits and conversation. While I've been to that office before, this will be my first visit to meet the team in their happy place.
Come the end of the week, I am off to one of my favorite places. Hint: it involves water – 21% of the world's fresh water supply.
My civic duty is over. Now it's time to really focus on reviewing merit and promotion documents. With less than 50 days left between now and when I need to have them completed, I have 92 left to review. The math is simple enough so it is just a matter of actually reading 1 to 2 per night followed by reviewing all of the other feedback provided from supervisors, peers/colleagues, and the peer review committee, then writing up my own evaluation document. So far I have 0 complete. On the upside, only 92 more to go.
I have no idea where time is going. I actually started to write this blog on Monday and now it's Thursday. I still have 92 dossiers to review. But in between we've had:
- Program Council which was just a quick call on Tuesday afternoon to more or less check in with few meaty agenda items,
- A really productive meeting with the SI Leaders that covered topics ranging from strategies to increase the number of UC Delivers submissions,
- A call on Monday afternoon with the Task Force on Agriculture and Natural Resources ( a committee of the Academic Senate) where the focus of the conversation was the committee's interest in ANR making itself better known and accessible to all 10 campuses,
- Some administrative things, including the staff evaluation process in both Davis and Oakland (2 different systems so that makes it interesting and a bit of a challenge to keep straight),
- Personnel-related topics that could be any number of things,
- A continuing discussion with CDFA about a potential partnering opportunity that is making headway,
- A couple of meetings and work related to quantifying and conveying progress in our strategic plan, which is relevant to our upcoming annual review meeting with President Napolitano,
- A meeting to talk about the Public Value Statements and next steps,
- And an extended meeting of the executive leadership group to think strategically, which ended up being as much about fires as it did long-term positioning (a reflection of everyone having piles of work in front of us, making it hard to see over the pile)
And now it's Thursday with a whole day of opportunity ahead of me. Mark B., Mark L. and I have a call scheduled mid-morning to talk about the Vice Provost – Academic Personnel and Development position. While I don't have the committee report yet, I want to get their thoughts about the candidate, the position and how it fits into other internal and external factors, including budget and the President's pending decisions about reorganizing UCOP. Regardless of the outcome, the commitment to outstanding personnel development and service remains. Similarly, regardless of the reorganization outcome, the commitment to the mission and the amazing work of ANR remains. There is great comfort in knowing that we will continue to improve the lives of Californians and challenge ourselves to achieve stronger outcomes with greater impact.
Mark L. is packing up in Nebraska today and heading west on Monday. He doesn't start until June 1 but he's already got a number of things on his calendar (meetings, field days) for May. I don't envy him these next couple of weeks. The movers were in Michigan late May 2017 but it seems like that was forever ago and I'm glad to have only a distant memory of the hassle. So glad to be ‘settled' and a part of ANR. Soon, even jury duty will be a distant memory.