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?
Almost Friday! Program Council went well this week. We heard the report from Michael Cahn who chaired the IGIS review. The committee did a great job reviewing the program and developing recommendations for Vice President Humiston's consideration. Michael and his team, supported by Jennifer Caron-Sales were quite thorough and really viewed the IGIS program through the lens of strengthening the reach and relevance of the IGIS efforts. Likewise, Maggi Kelly, Andy Lyons and the IGIS team did a great job responding to the committee comments and recommendations. I suspect these program reviews can be approached with some trepidation but my experience with this review, my first, is that the review committee and Program Council are focused on constructive guidance to lead to a stronger, more collaborative program and not criticism.
Program Council reviewed all of the feedback received about the upcoming position call process. Because Program Council is comprised of CE Specialists and Advisors that are all part of Program Teams and also serve as County Directors, Statewide Program Directors, and Institute Directors, as well as Associate Deans that are committed to the success of their departments, the members of Program Council have a vested interest in a successful position call process. We received a number of good suggestions to improve the process. Basically, the process will follow what was proposed as a new approach but with clarification that the first groups are not intended to develop positions in isolation but with extensive consultation with Program Teams that include Advisors, Specialists, program directors, stakeholders. Following those initial lists of positions, there would be opportunities to add in additional positions that are critical and not represented in the initial lists. In addition, I believe we will be increasing the numbers a bit but still remain under 140 position proposals. Finally, in early January, we will identify how to ensure stakeholders have a mechanism to weigh in. More information to come after the January Program Council meeting.
The January meeting will have some new members at Program Council. SI Leader interviews are scheduled for later this month. While time consuming, Program Council provides greater insight into the workings of UC ANR. Once decisions are made, there will be an announcement made, likely through the ANR Update so stay tuned. Similarly, conversations with Assistant Vice Provost candidates are wrapping up. Hopefully, that announcement will be out before January 1. The 2 Vice Provost searches are moving forward but no updates are available yet.
Today was Executive Council for most of the day. This is a meeting with the 4 Deans from the 3 AES campuses. It's a good chance to make sure everyone is on the same page as well as share successes and strategies to address challenges. In particular, it's an important mechanism to build connections across the campuses to the benefit of CE Specialists and Advisors.
In summary, a lot of sitting this week so I'm eager to get some yard work done this weekend. Hopefully it is a calm, wind-less weekend throughout the state.
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.
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.
Three of the 4 candidates for the Vice Provost – Statewide Programs/Strategic Initiatives interviewed today. I missed the fourth candidate's presentation and interview yesterday. But like many of you, I plan to watch it before comments are due. Fortunately the links to all 4 presentations are already out (thanks Kim Ingram!) so I plan to catch that last presentation in between flights late tonight. One thing that came through in the presentations is a desire to better understand the position. Given that the position was first posted before I had arrived at UC ANR, I've had to do some catching up myself. Over the last 8 months I have gained considerable clarity for the intent of the position.
UC ANR is fortunate to have high performing, motivated, and creative statewide program and institute directors. This Vice Provost is needed to support these leaders as they build their programs and take the programs in new directions to the benefit of stakeholders and clientele across UC. The Vice Provost is a resource and creative partner as well as someone to challenge the directors as part of the continuous improvement continuum for all of UC ANR. The Vice Provost is a champion for the programs but also one who looks to the future and helps steer the programs in directions necessary to reach the division's vision. While it is also true that the Vice Provost will be the supervisor for some of the statewide program leaders, given the talent of the directors the greater emphasis will be on helping the directors find time and resources for all of their ideas, including facilitating connections between and among statewide programs, the strategic initiatives and external partners.
The 2025 Vision is what guides our programs; it's the ‘what we do' in very broad terms. And while the new strategic plan is the ‘how we do it' or operational side of things, the two are very much connected. This is most evident to me in that the strategic plan includes evaluation of ‘what we do' (goal 5) as part of ‘how we do things' (i.e. the strategic plan itself).
I've also been thinking for the last several months about the connectivity between strategic initiatives, statewide programs and institutes, program teams and work groups. I will share my thoughts in the near future. For now, it's time to get ready to board (assuming the rain doesn't delay my flight like it seems to have done for everything heading to SoCal).
Enjoy the long weekend!