Since I joined UC ANR last summer, I have come to recognize the valuable role played by the Division's staff employees. We rely on academics to lead our research and extension programs and administrators to set the course and manage our efforts, but accomplishing our goals would be impossible without the many capacities offered by a dedicated staff.
Our Academic Assembly goes back years, and all UC campuses plus the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Office of the President have staff assemblies. However, ANR lacked an organization dedicated to promoting the welfare of staff.
Last spring, the division's Work Environment Assessment workshop participants discussed the staff assembly concept and sought volunteers to help design a process and structure for establishing the UC ANR Staff Assembly. As the impressive number of volunteers illustrated, there was a palpable enthusiasm and clear willingness to engage. There were actually many more volunteers than we could accommodate on the committee, a nice “problem” to have.
In February, representatives of the new staff assembly committee presented the mission statement and bylaws they drafted for the new organization to me and other members of the UC ANR leadership team. The committee envisioned a UC ANR Staff Assembly that cultivates satisfied, dedicated and professional staff to work with the Division's leadership, academics and other members of the ANR community.
All ANR staff employees will be members of the ANR Staff Assembly, including county-paid, part-time and limited-appointment staff. The elected leaders of the group will seek input from ANR staff on policies, processes and programs and serve in an advisory capacity to ANR leadership, giving staff a collective voice on issues of concern. The assembly also will provide support for career training and professional development to staff to aid career advancement.
The ANR Staff Assembly will become a member of the Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA) and send representatives to CUCSA's quarterly meetings. CUCSA presents staff perspectives and recommendations on management initiatives to the University of California's decision makers and has weighed in on important Regents' decisions, such as budget issues and domestic partner benefits.
I would like to thank the Work Environment Assessment workshop participants and the committee of ANR volunteers who met over the last six months to develop the structure of our new UC ANR Staff Assembly. I encourage supervisors, managers, directors and administrators in ANR to provide support for ANR staff who are interested in being involved in the UC ANR Staff Assembly. You'll hear more about our Staff Assembly in the coming weeks and months, as I know the team hopes to establish a website, town hall meetings, and other venues for engagement.
Please be open, on a case-by-case basis, to allow release time for staff to participate in UC ANR Staff Assembly activities and to run for elected positions on the assembly's executive committee or as CUCSA representatives. And I would especially encourage our staff to become engaged with the UC ANR Staff Assembly as we work together to support healthy food systems, environments, people and communities in California.