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.
A few months ago I was surprised when we saw no increase in our state funding because campuses did see increases. Yes, I knew it was possible because there was no conversation about increasing the OP budget and, after all, we are a line item in the OP budget. Nevertheless, I remained optimistic. It didn't materialize; the state said 'no' to an increase in the OP budget and did not call out UC ANR for any special augmentation. But that wasn't the end of the effort. Next came several months of negotiations with OP to find additional support for UC ANR that reflected what the UCSF Corridor model would have provided had OP not been prohibited from receiving an increase. We just learned that we will see a one-time increase, but not the full model provision. That's progress, and we'll take it!
Key to my responsibilities is thinking forward about what all of this means for UC ANR. What impact does our funding model have on the size of our programs, our funding sources, what we deliver, what capacity we have if we change nothing, and what opportunities exist to attract resources that enhance our position? I work through the 'what if' and then align scenarios with goals and key strategies. There isn't a single path but rather numerous paths that lead to the intended outcome. No crystal ball shows me what's ahead, what external forces will come into play at any given time, and there is error associated with the scenario projections. Thus, the failure to achieve the intended outcome is possible. But the forecast is necessary for managing what the future holds.
Often, I look back to better see forward. Funding history is the first place to start. Historically, federal funding for Cooperative Extension has declined. While that funding has been stable for the last decade, flat funding for Cooperative Extension since 2009 means an annual shortfall equivalent to the increased costs for peoples, supplies, and operations.
State funding in 2017 for higher education across the U.S., remained below the pre-2008 levels. California funding was closer to pre-2008 levels than many/most states. The recent increase to the campuses may put the state funding on par with pre-2008 funding amounts. Nonetheless, it would be unwise to count on state funds to keep up with the pace of increased costs, much less regain the previous position.
In theory, the UCOP portion of the ANR budget is calculated using the “UCSF Corridor” model, and the source of funds continues to be the campus assessment. The corridor model has not yet been provided to UC ANR, in part because the OP budget remained flat in FY18/19 and now again in FY19/20 (no increase through campus assessment). Fortunately, for FY19/20, we will receive approximately 2/3 of what the UCSF Corridor model would have provided.
Once implemented, the UCSF Corridor model means that “in years where the University receives increased funding from the State, ANR would receive its "normal share" of the first 2% increase and then one-half of its normal share above 2%. In years in which the University receives budget reductions from the State, ANR would receive a reduction equivalent to its normal share of the first 1% and then 25% of its normal share above 1%. 'Normal share' is based on the percentage increase being allocated to the campuses for their base budget adjustment.” Glenda points out in a May 2016 post, “The bottom line, I believe, is that we now have a budget model that reduces uncertainty and allows us to plan and forecast into the future more effectively."
In my role, it is imperative that I think forward and calculate what the UCSF Corridor model means to UC ANR resources. While the uncertainty is reduced, it is replaced with predictable shortfall because, like this year, our increase is below that of the campuses yet we have academic and staff costs that keep up with the campus costs. Furthermore, even if we receive the full state increase, as campuses do, we could very well fall short of cost increases in any given year; this is not uncommon.
Clearly, state and federal funds do not offer a path for real growth. Diversifying our funding sources, using many strategies and ways is key to maintenance and growth. I don't share this with a defeatist attitude. If we know what we have ahead of us and prepare by laying the groundwork, we are more resilient to whatever we face. And, if circumstances are better than projected, we have a buffer! I will share a bit more about our diversified funding efforts in an upcoming post. This one is getting long.
The takeaway message is that we do have a lot of things going for us in getting ready for the future. Not the least of which is the caliber of our current programs and a long history of programmatic accomplishments. Rather than waiting to see what comes, we are constantly looking out 5 to 10 years, when making decisions to determine how that decision interacts with anticipated external factors and a projected funding reality. The growing list of tiny victories, in aggregate, make great strides towards ensuring that those who wish to be here 20, 30 years from now have the same or enhanced opportunities.
We had a good conversation during Tuesday's Academic Assembly Council. There was a long list of topics, but we were able to work through the list in the 2 hours we had. Honestly, we could have spent far more time on issues such as expectations of the different academic ranks, future hiring of academics, the importance and challenge of everyone hearing the same message across a large, dispersed organization, the merit and promotion process and time it takes to conduct the process each year, and feedback from across the academic assembly.
Program Council met at the Hopland REC, beginning Tuesday evening for dinner. Wednesday included an overview of the REC, a small slice of the vital work conducted there over the years, and a look at the plans, including opportunities that have resulted from the devastation of the fire. John did a great job with the presentation. We took a walking tour of the lower area of the REC which was very popular with participants. Program Council did have work to do; we spent time talking about what members saw as opportunities for the RECs.
Following Program Council, we headed to Lake County to have dinner with Rachel and Glenn. Thursday started with a good discussion in Lake County. I was surprised, in a good way, to learn that the local Tribal Health has doctors who prescribe Master Gardener classes as part of the diabetes prevention program. That's a powerful statement about the contribution of UC ANR programs to overall health and an excellent justification for working with counties to find support for our programs through Prop 63 funds that are grounded in improving mental health. We learned about how vital UC ANR programs are to a County of 65,000 people with little infrastructure and staggering statistics about the health and well-being of the County residents. UC ANR accomplishes its work through key partnerships. It was a story we had heard before, in other counties across the state.
We went on to Glenn County and learned about the great things going on there; we met a farm family that benefits from some of the work of UC ANR CE Advisors. Now we have a team of Community Educators to advance similar work. There is significant research going on in Glenn County that helps farmers and families, alike, address business and personal challenges.
During the week we learned of the Governor's new budget. UCOP remains flat. It is difficult to hear the news, given the evidence of how vital our work is to the people of California. We need to continue to share our stories, gathering more of them with more concrete impact data. While I am disappointed in the budget outcome, we are by no means defeated. Tomorrow starts another week with its own set of setbacks that don't even come close to competing with all of the successes./span>
My allergies are controlling me, again. I don't have any travel over the next 2 weeks so no reprieve in the short term. At least the heavy lift of yard work is done for a bit. And, I am down to 6 dossiers remaining for first review. I hope to knock out 1 or 2 of those today.
In the meantime, I've finished a project I had worked on for a while. As I've mentioned before, it would be an exaggeration to say that I enjoyed the project. But truth be told, given the outcome, I suspect I will undertake such a project again. Had the outcome not justified the means, I would not but, in this case, the toil was worthwhile. The process was new to me, contributing to both the excitement of a challenge and the frustration over having to read the instructions, repeatedly. However, the challenge wasn't difficult; it was time-consuming and new. The process took some getting used to, but what ‘new process' doesn't? At times, it seemed that this new process was wasteful but when I measured the actual waste, it turned out to be quite low. I guess things that appear to be destined to fail may, in fact, work out okay in the end provided you follow the directions and see things through to the end. Anyway, now I am on to a new project that requires more creativity with no instructions. We'll see how it turns out.
Yesterday was all about the budget. Glenda, Tu, Jan and I met for a few hours to put final touches on our annual presentation to the President then strategize about goals and how best to achieve them. Later, Jennifer joined us to review a limited number of budget requests. Of course, without knowing anything definitive about our FY19/20 budget, no final decisions could be made. The realist in me can't overlook the fact that public education, in general, needs to become increasingly creative in how it finds funding going forward; just following last year's directions doesn't suffice. Regardless of where we sit in the OP budget today, and what conversations are going on around the state, the reality is that UC ANR can't maintain all that it has had in the past if it relies on state and federal funding sources to be the provider. That's not to say that we don't seek as much as we can from those sources; just that the funds don't have the purchasing power they once did.
Tomorrow I have a chance to visit with the Academic Assembly Council before heading off to Program Council that will be held at the Hopland REC. This might be the first time I have visited Hopland when it wasn't raining! Weather aside, it is always nice to see John, Hannah, and the Hopland team.
Lots going on this week. For many, the week includes the Global Climate Action Summit and/or some of its many affiliated events. For others, it's a series of meetings and travel. This afternoon I received an update on Project Board, our new reporting system that many have provided input into and had a chance to preview as Kit Alviz, David Krause and team have developed it. It seems to be coming along nicely and 27 CE Specialists have already been in to use the site. Hopefully most, if not all, agree that it is an improvement of DANRIS-X.
Tomorrow I head off to visit UCCE in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. I haven't even had a chance to tell you about our visit to Santa Clara County yet so stay tuned; I'll be sure to get to that soon but there's a lot to talk about! Wednesday there is a CD Institute for new County Directors, followed by a Research and Extension Council meeting that evening. Thursday is a County Director meeting. I suppose on Friday many will be making plans for National Guacamole Day (September 16). I presume it's not a costume-based holiday but who knows how the folks at South Coast REC celebrate one of their big efforts.
Budget notices and information about Program Team funding, CE Specialist and AES faculty travel support, and other budget items are in the process of being shared. Despite a flat budget year and perhaps some disappointments that not all requests were possible, the workload was the same, if not larger, for Jennifer Bungee and the Resource, Planning, and Management. Thanks go out to that team for their hard work in pulling this together.
Just when the Mendocino complex fire winds down, we have another one taking off (Delta fire). The folks at Hopland REC are certainly trying to make the best use of their situation. Last week they hosted a webinar to talk about “Opportunities for Postfire Research at Hopland REC”. If you weren't able to join, take a listen to the webinar recording. Or, have a look at the resources associated with the webinar on our website at: http://bit.ly/HRECpostfire. Clearly Hannah, John and team have been busy pulling this together! Talk about a group of people who see the glass half full!
Often, I use these posts to say hello to a new member of UC ANR. Sadly, we too often say good bye. While I had only met Chuck Ingels a few times, I know his recent passing has been a blow to so many who worked with him for much of their career, if not his. A Celebration of Life is planned for Chuck Ingels on September 26 at 2 PM. The celebration will be held at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, which is adjacent to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center that was so important to Chuck and a place the reflects his accomplishments. Donations in memory of Chuck may be made to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center (FOHC) online at http://sacmg.ucanr.edu/ (designate FOHC in the drop-down menu). A memorial at FOHC will be announced and unveiled at a later date.