- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
UC Cooperative Extension specialists based at UC Davis and UC Riverside can now identify themselves as a “Professor of Cooperative Extension” as well as UCCE specialist. Adoption of the new working title is underway at UC Berkeley.
“Note this is not a title change,” said Selina Wang, co-chair of the UC Davis Specialist Advisory Committee, who explained the working title Professor of Cooperative Extension is more familiar to people outside of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“The addition of a working title for CE Specialists has many positive impacts as it aligns with our role of someone who professes their skills and instructs others,” Wang said. “We are grateful for the enthusiastic and widespread support from the leaderships, committees and individuals at UC Davis. We also thank those who have paved the way for realizing this vision – the title of Emeritus Professor of Cooperative Extension applies to CE Specialists who are currently approved for emeritus status.”
In documents submitted to the Academic Senate at UC Davis by Wang and Vikram Koundinya, her co-chair on the UC Davis Specialist Advisory Committee, they state, “The title ‘Specialist in Cooperative Extension' or ‘Cooperative Extension Specialist' is not universally recognized or commonly used outside of the land-grant system in California or internationally, while the title ‘Professor' has widespread recognition. Similar to those in the professorial series, Specialists in CE have been integrated into the research, graduate education, service, and outreach missions of the departments, though teaching of regular undergraduate or graduate courses is not a required responsibility. In every state except California and Mississippi, individuals holding the title Specialist in CE can also hold the title Professor.”
UCCE specialists at UC Riverside were informed in June 2020 of their new working title, which was shepherded through the process by UCR Professor Tim Paine, when he was divisional dean for the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.
“We are, and always have been faculty, but not senate faculty. This is the main difference between University of California CE Specialists and the rest of the United States,” said Peggy Mauk, director of UCR Agricultural Operations and UCCE specialist.
Mary Lu Arpaia, UC Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Riverside, is pleased the UCR Academic Senate approved the title.
“I think it is a critical first step for putting extension specialists on equal footing with tenured faculty,” Arpaia said. “In many other land-grant universities in the U.S., extension specialists are considered full faculty and gain true tenure. This is what we should strive for within the UC system. Kudos for our administrative staff at UCR for making this first step and being the first in the UC system to recognize extension specialists. Hopefully the next steps occur within the UC system in a timely manner.”
UCCE specialists located at UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara, which are not part of the Agricultural Experiment Station, are based in UC ANR, and will have to wait to use the professor title. For campus-based specialists, the title must be approved by the local academic senate. Because UC ANR doesn't have an academic senate, they will have to find a different administrative path, according to Wendy Powers, associate vice president.
“It would be great if everyone can use the same title; the CE Specialist title was already too confusing for folks and it would not help if we start using two different titles,” said Safeeq Khan, assistant UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Merced.