- Author: Wendy Powers
Wow – this week and next seem to be a mad rush to get everything done before the winter break. The result will be even greater need for a break that will only happen if I get everything done in time. Truth be told, the ‘break' is shaping up to be far more hectic than the norm so I will be glad to get back to work.
Today I met with the UC Davis Specialists and some of the AES faculty. It was great to hear what the Specialist Advisory Committee has been working on and hear a college update from Dean Dillard. The conversation throughout the meeting was positive despite the difficult nature of the topics (REC recharge rates, the recent outcome of the 2018 Position Call Process). Perhaps there is never gain without some pain. What really stuck with me was the statistic that Helene presented indicating that over 50 of the 67 UCD CE Specialists received an award in FY2017-2018! That is impressive! No wonder it is so easy to love the work of UC ANR. And no wonder UC Davis is top ranked in so many fields!
I spent some time over the weekend getting notes out to the last of the Ideation Workshop teams. I remain hopeful that most of the teams continue to develop their ideas. The teams had great ideas; my abbreviated summary of the ideas are below. Teams are open to additional membership and expertise. If you know someone who attended the workshop, be sure to ask the participant about the projects listed below. If any titles interest you, I would be happy to connect you to the teams for further discussion.
Synergists – Developing credit-based internship courses for UC students
Bond's Beach Party – Incentivizing and rewarding revenue generation by academics
Wolf Pack – Creating ANR stories to foster donor support
HAKZ Inc. – Building a food waste collaborative
Insight Out Explorers – Development of a platform for peer sharing of best practices to enhance fund development efforts
Zootopia – Fee-based adult learning opportunities as part of the UC ANR portfolio of offerings
Impact A-Team – Creating a Consumer's Report system for ag tech
A-Team – Developing a subscription service for online learning
Girl Party – Establishing scientists in residence within county-based Cooperative Extension
Flying Squirrels – Offering farm-to-dinner with a scientist events as a fundraising opportunity
ANR 3.0 – Expanding evaluation service offerings within UC ANR
Tomorrow I am visiting San Francisco and San Mateo County offices. Tomorrow will be my first time to visit the San Francisco space that we now rent a couple of days each week. Igor was successful in negotiating use of the space, and while it may seem a small step, it represents a door opening that could lead to an even stronger partnership and presence in San Francisco. Maggie Gunn attended the Ideation Workshop so I had a chance to meet her then but this visit will be my first chance to talk to her about her goals and challenges in her new position as 4-H Advisor and co-County Director. Given traffic, tomorrow promises to be a long, but exciting day.
- Author: Wendy Powers
The last session at the Ag Experiment Station Directors meeting in Philly this week was intended to focus on integrating the teaching and research missions within individual faculty appointments. It was a panel discussion and two of the panelists, in particular, did not stick to talking just about teaching and research. One of those two spoke repeatedly about the need to enhance work ‘across the functions'. The panelists, all with extensive experience in administration and long careers behind them, spoke of this as a relatively new approach and the two panelists, referenced above, cited examples of Extension and research administrators working in silos. Despite the hour of the day and two days spent sitting in a chair I found the conversation fascinating – not because I find it a novel approach but because, at least to the event planning committee, there appeared to be a need for the topic and, sadly, I agree that it doesn't happen to the extent that it should.
About 2 months into my first faculty position (split research and Extension appointment) a mentor told me that a strong Extension program had at its foundation a strong research program. But as I went through my career I found the reverse to be true as well; my Extension program informed my research program as much as my research program informed my Extension program. Yet I have read promotion document after promotion document from candidates all across the US where the portfolio was divided into ‘Research' and ‘Extension' sections in a deliberate effort to isolate the two. And as I moved into administrative roles, I've had a firsthand look at how often the administrators of the Extension and research programs fail to work together and sometimes even compete for resources. Citizens see a single university and have no need to recognize that there are departments and units and that any given person within the system is not responsible for all things that go on at the university – that alone is sufficient reason to work collaboratively. And for the individual academic, there is great benefit to an integrated program.
The integration of research and Extension that is inherent in UC ANR was one of the things that drew me to my current position. I had looked at Extension Director positions and I had looked at Ag Experiment Station Director positions. But each time I had to wonder if I could really walk away, entirely, from the other. It would be difficult enough to leave behind my personal program much less a mission altogether. If you haven't spent time in other programs you may not realize how lucky we are in UC ANR to have research and Extension integrated into field-based academic positions. While nothing is perfect the UC approach is ahead of the curve.
A goal across UC ANR is to have an integrated research and Extension program that is as strong as possible. This goal became part of the conversation when considering how to proceed with developing leadership positions to fill the two vacancies that will exist at the end of this week. We could refill the positions as described previously or we could look at where we want to be, what goals we have in front of us and structure positions in a way to support the goals. That's not to say that it is a perfect situation but it is unnecessary to assume that the positions can't be changed down the road. Change is, after all, part of growth and improvement. As a result of the discussions about goals and needs, a position will be posted, soon, for a Vice Provost with oversight for county-based Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and the Research and Extension Centers (RECs), highlighting that UC ANR values the seamless integration of research and Extension. While a heavy workload and, perhaps daunting, responsibility, the position to me is one of great opportunity without having to choose between the two missions. I am optimistic that we will attract a strong pool of applicants who have a solid track record of working ‘across the functions'. Surely I am not alone in my sense that we should be well beyond thinking that such integration is a novel idea.