ANR Employees
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ANR Employees

ANR Update

Sad news about Ryan Tompkins

Dear Colleagues,

It is with deep sadness that I share the news that our colleague Ryan Tompkins, forestry and natural resources advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Lassen counties, passed away on May 6, while receiving treatment for cancer. David Lile, Ryan's supervisor, has been in touch with his family, who granted me permission to inform our UC ANR community. Ryan is survived by his wife Michelle and sons Emmett and Sterling.

Ryan was well known for his warmth, kindness and quick humor. Among his colleagues, he was admired for his ability to explain technical information in creative ways that would be interesting and relatable to his audience. Ryan also loved to conduct extension work in settings that people would enjoy – sometimes this was over his BBQ, sometimes at Forestry Camp, but most often while hiking through his beloved forest to demonstrate an important point.

Ryan was a true leader and had active research and extension collaborations throughout ANR, UC Berkeley, the U.S. Forest Service, private timber and many local organizations. On topics ranging from reforestation to forest health to fire resilience, Ryan was highly respected and valued by his peers and the many communities he served. Those of you who didn't work with Ryan directly may remember his excellent town hall presentation in 2022 about making communities more resilient to wildfire.

I especially enjoyed my time with Ryan during our CARET trip to Washington, D.C. in 2023, and I will greatly miss him – as a consummate Cooperative Extension advisor and as a wonderful person. My condolences to all of you across UC ANR who called Ryan a colleague and friend.

Those wishing to send well-wishes to Ryan's family are asked to mail cards to the Plumas-Sierra Cooperative Extension office, care of Samantha Brown, 208 Fairgrounds Road, Quincy, CA, 95971. Plans are coming together for a memorial, and we will provide more details as they become available.

For those seeking support for your own well-being, I encourage you to contact the Academic and Staff Assistance Program (ASAP), which provides cost-free and confidential counseling and referral services to all UC ANR employees.

Glenda Humiston
Vice President

Posted on Friday, May 17, 2024 at 10:35 AM
Tags: Ryan Tompkins (1)

Kathryn Stein joins AVP Office as project manager

I am pleased to announce that Kathryn Stein has joined the Associate Vice President's Immediate Office as a project manager, effective May 1, 2024.

In this new role, Kathryn will manage and support strategic projects, operations, and processes across UC ANR's programmatic portfolio, with a focus on the Statewide Programs and Institutes, Strategic Initiatives, and County Cooperative Extension. Kathryn will provide project management and programmatic support to Vice Provost Daniel Obrist, County Cooperative Extension Director Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty and myself.

As a project manager in the Vice President's Immediate Office over the past few years, Kathryn provided project management and key contributions to planning and executing the 2023 ANR Statewide Conference and UC ANR's strategic planning and strategic visioning processes, among other projects. Kathryn will continue to be involved in the next phases of UC ANR's strategic planning and strategic visioning in her new position and will be based at the UCOP office in Oakland. 

Please join me in welcoming Kathryn to her new role.

Brent Hales
Associate Vice President for Research and Cooperative Extension

Posted on Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 4:21 PM
Tags: Kathryn Stein (1)

Flexible work agreements and staff performance evaluations reminder

Flexible Work Agreements

Employees and supervisors should review Flexible Work Agreements annually to ensure the agreement is still meeting the needs of the employee and unit, including organizational goals, establish performance expectations and compliance considerations.  

Now is the time to re-review and evaluate those agreements that are about to expire! Please be sure to submit your Flexible Work Agreement Form updates by June 14, 2024

To submit your Flexible Work Agreement, go to wfa.ucanr.edu

  • To Initiate/Submit a Form: Left menu -> Click the plus (+) sign, next to Human Resources 
  • Select “Flexible Work Agreement” Form
    • Forms will route based on the selections on the appropriate fields including supervisor and type of agreement.  Employees seeking to work in the office less than 3 days a week will require exceptional approval. The form will automatically route to the appropriate AVP.

Staff Performance Evaluations 

Staff Performance Appraisals are due to Human Resources May 10. By that date, the following should have taken place:

  • Employee Completes ePerformance self-evaluation in UCPath
  • Supervisor meets with employee to discuss the self-evaluation 
  • Supervisor completes and submits their evaluation in UCPath 
  • Second-level reviewer approves

 Evaluation Resources

Posted on Monday, May 6, 2024 at 8:09 AM

UC ANR guidelines for using AI tools in the workplace

With technology advancements such as ChatGPT, Google Bard and other artificial intelligence (AI)-driven platforms, there's growing enthusiasm within our community to leverage these tools and integrate them into the university context. The following advisory provides guidance on how to use these tools safely, without putting institutional, personal or proprietary information at risk. Additional guidance may be forthcoming as circumstances evolve.

UC ANR recognizes the potential for AI technologies to perpetuate biases and inequalities if not implemented and monitored carefully. Therefore, all AI systems and algorithms used within the university must undergo thorough scrutiny for bias and fairness throughout their development, deployment and ongoing usage.

Implementing AI in our Workplace

If you are looking to implement a new AI tool or process, please review the following guidelines and review the Responsible use of Artificial Intelligence Report, then contact Bethanie Brown at brbbrown@ucanr.edu and Jaki Hsieh Wojan at jhsiehw@ucanr.edu

HR and IT will conduct a thorough assessment of the information security, employee and labor relations implications associated with the selected AI tools. They will provide you with support and recommendations regarding the appropriateness of these tools.

AI Training  

A thorough training on the use of AI is required for all employees leveraging AI tools in the workplace. UC Berkeley has made their AI Essentials training publicly available and is highly recommended. Other training programs may be available for use, please contact UC ANR Human Resources at humanresources@ucanr.edu for additional information.

Prohibited Use

  • AI tools may not be utilized in situations where they impact an employee's personal information, health and safety or conditions of employment, unless otherwise specified by policy or law.
  • Any use of ChatGPT should be with the assumption that no personal, confidential, proprietary or otherwise sensitive information may be used with it. Information classified as Protection Level P2, P3, or P4 should not be used. 
  • Similarly, ChatGPT or other public AI tools should not be used to generate output that would be considered non-public. Examples include, but are not limited to, proprietary or unpublished research; legal analysis or advice; recruitment, personnel or disciplinary decision making; completion of academic work in a manner not allowed by the instructor; creation of non-public instructional materials; and grading. 
  • Please also note that OpenAI explicitly forbids the use of ChatGPT and their other products for certain categories of activity, including fraud and illegal activities. This list of items can be found in their usage policy document.

Precautions

  • Ethics

It is imperative to prioritize the well-being and rights of employees by ensuring human oversight and accountability. The use of AI to make high-stakes decisions or penalize employees should be avoided. In addition to the consideration of the ethical implications, clear processes, procedures and standards and potentially union notifications must first be put in place prior to leveraging AI that impacts an employee's conditions of employment.

  • Scams

Be wary of fake websites attempting to mask as popular AI apps. This article shares how to tell ChatGPT scams apart from the real ChatGPT website (link is external).

  • Errors and “Hallucinations”

When using generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Google Bard and similar technologies for business purposes, be vigilant about "hallucinations" — moments when the AI generates unverified or incorrect information. Always cross-check the tool's output for accuracy before incorporating it into university-related tasks. While generative AI is potent, it can occasionally produce false or misleading content. Ensure all facts and figures generated by these tools are independently verified through non-AI sources before use. In other words, don't simply copy and paste what is produced into your work. 

  • Bias

When using Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, it's important to recognize that the datasets used to train the models may be trained on incomplete or biased data. Implicit and systemic biases can inadvertently be built into AI systems. Such biases run counter to UC ANR's institutional values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Therefore, using outputs in a way that amplifies these biases can be contrary to our shared institutional values. 

  • Illegal Content

Data sets used to train AI, and the resulting models, can also contain illegal content. It is important to be aware of what data sets contain and to avoid storing illegal content on UC systems, even inadvertently. Register data sets you are using with HR and IT, and be sure to notify immediately both units if you find or become aware of illegal content. 

Potential Opportunities for Use

Publicly available information (Protection Level P1) can be used freely in ChatGPT. In all cases, use should be consistent with the UC ANR Principles of Community. Areas to consider the use of AI:

  • Promotional Materials, Image and Video Production
    Automate the creation of promotional material. Edit and create images, as well as voiceover tracks for videos, to elevate your media production.
  • Coding and Web Development
    Draft code for common programming tasks, accelerating the development process.
  • Job Descriptions and Postings
    Use templates to suggest customized language for position overviews, key responsibilities and qualifications. Review the language to ensure it is free from unintended biases as biased wording may discourage certain groups from applying, potentially impacting the diversity of the applicant pool.
  • Training and Onboarding
    Develop training materials and FAQs for new tools and automate responses to common questions during staff training sessions.
  • Website and Communications Content
    Edit text for clarity and grammar, suggest optimal layouts, headlines and meta descriptions, and draft content for course listings, prerequisites or institutional information.

References

Posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2024 at 10:11 AM

Join UC ANR Moves at 1:15 p.m. on May 1

Join the UC ANR Moves event on Wednesday, May 1, from 1:15 to 2 p.m. UC ANR Moves promotes health and well-being by encouraging all employees to take a walk or engage in another physical activity for 30 to 40 minutes  This annual event is intended to promote a thriving culture of health and well-being throughout UC ANR's work environment.

At 1:15 p.m., Scott Brayton, Staff Assembly chair, will kick off the event with a stretch session. Join him by Zoom:

Zoom https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/98754220328?pwd=b0tML3czSDdKd3U4ZUQzVzBXMGRBdz09
Meeting ID: 987 5422 0328
Passcode: 793713

Make this event fun!

Wear your silliest t-shirt or organize with your colleagues to dress up according to a theme or make posters and spread some love in the community. Either way, wear sun protection and take lots of photos and some videos! 

Employees at the UC ANR Building in Davis will meet on the back patio by the breakroom.

  • 1:15 -1:25 p.m. – Kick off: Scott Brayton, Staff Assembly Council chair, will kick us off with a rally and stretch.
  • 1:25 to 2 p.m. – Walk at your location. Bring a bottle of water or hydrate well before the walk.

Please upload your mp4 videos and photos of your UC ANR Moves activities to the Box folder “UC ANR Moves by May 8. Ethan Ireland will compile them into a single video, which we will show at the ANR town hall.

Hope to walk with you!
Jodi Azulai, on behalf of the Staff Assembly Wellness Committee 

Scott Brayton, Emma Tribble, Suzanne Burton, Tatiana Avoce, Andrea Rayray, Lucie Cahierre, and Nora Lopez

 

Posted on Friday, April 26, 2024 at 9:01 AM
Tags: UC ANR Moves (1)

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