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PAC discusses ANR Advisory Committee recommendations

President Janet Napolitano thanked Don Bransford and everyone who provided information to the UC ANR Advisory Committee. She announced she would be moving forward on the committee's recommendations.

The UC ANR Advisory Committee, appointed by President Janet Napolitano to consider options for UC ANR's structure, governance and funding, submitted its recommendations to her, Don Bransford told the UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC), which met Dec. 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Berkeley.

PAC Chair Bransford, who also served on the UC ANR Advisory Committee, said the committee saw opportunities to strengthen governance, increase budgetary transparency, provide more stable and predictable funding models and enhance collaborations between UC ANR and UC's broader academic and research enterprise.

The committee, which included deans Kathryn Uhrich of the UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Michael Lairmore of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, consulted internal and external stakeholders, then conducted its own analyses in consultation with UC ANR leaders.

The committee made four key recommendations:

  1. Maintain UC ANR's status as a systemwide program within UCOP, reporting to the president.
  2. Create a UC ANR governing council for oversight and to promote greater understanding of UC ANR across the university.
  3. Create a funding model using a combination of the “set-aside” and “corridor” models.
  4. Retain campus oversight of and reporting responsibility for state Agricultural Experiment Station funds.

Napolitano told the PAC she would be moving forward on the recommendations because she thinks they will ensure ANR greater budget stability, a broader understanding of ANR across the UC system and create more opportunities for collaboration between ANR and campus academics. She issued a statement Dec. 19 on her decisions for UC ANR.

Uhrich said she sees the governing council as an “opportunity to educate, integrate and be inclusive” to have people from across the UC system and outside of UC participating.

UC expertise

In other discussions, Napolitano commended ANR employees for their responses to the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, noting that employees and volunteers lost homes in the devastating wildfires.

At a recent meeting with some legislators to discuss automation and the future of work, wildfire, health issues and homelessness, Napolitano said the policymakers told her they want to hear more from UC experts to help them think through policy challenges.

One commissioner commented, “We're going to have more fires, more foodborne illness outbreaks. Let's have our folks out there to talk to media and have them wearing a UC shirt.”

Napolitano replied, “I like the idea of folks wearing UC garb when they're on TV.”

Budget

During her budget presentation, Humiston said ANR must slow its use of reserve funds and develop new funding sources.

Humiston and Tu Tran, associate vice president for business operations, briefed the PAC on ANR's budget. Administrative costs are up this fiscal year to invest $4 million to join UCPath, the new systemwide payroll and personnel system. UC ANR has begun the transition and will go live in March-April. “Ultimately UCPath will save us money, but it's costing us now,” Humiston said.

Due to budget constraints, Humiston explained that UC ANR isn't offering competitive grants nor announcing UCCE positions to be filled in 2018-19. Recruitment for previously approved positions is ongoing and new hiring will begin as resources become available to make the long-term commitment to support positions.

In her budget PowerPoint presentation for the PAC, Humiston listed actions ANR has taken in the past to compensate for budget cuts and steps that will be taken in FY 2018-19.

Tran explained that UC ANR relies on six sources of funds – state, federal, county, extramural, endowments and income from gifts, patents, investments and program fees. State funds, which constitute the largest portion of the division's funding, pay for employee salaries and benefits. He noted government funding is highly volatile so “we are trying to raise money in other ways.”

California Agricultural Resources Archive

UC Merced's librarian HaiPeng Li, project archivist Lisa Valens and project director Emily Lin gave a presentation on the California Agricultural Resources Archive or CARA. The UC Cooperative Extension archive project, which was launched after UC Cooperative Extension's centennial in 2014, started with UCCE in Merced, Humboldt and Ventura counties. The team has been digitizing annual reports and historical photos to make them accessible to the public and researchers.

“The data isn't just history,” Humiston asserted. “There are notes on research that may hold the key to something like huanglongbing.”

Mining the data, advanced analysis and linking to other information might open new avenues of research, she said.

UC ANR is seeking partners and trying to raise funds for the archive project. Jim Downing, publications director, will assume leadership of the project to succeed Jan Corlett, chief of staff to the vice president, who plans to retire in July.

Deans' updates

The School of Veterinary Medicine is planning to build a Livestock & Field Services Center.

To help students with career planning, Helene Dillard, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said she seeks UCCE advisors to show students the research and outreach being done in the counties and planning a course on Cooperative Extension to introduce students to career options. She is in talks to partner with UC Davis medical center on health research such as the connection between diet and disease.

David Ackerly, dean of the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources, announced the recent hiring of new Cooperative Extension specialists Ellen Bruno for policy analysis and Rob York for fire and policy, and that he is striving to create new faculty positions that will not depend on state money. He also announced that UC Cooperative Extension specialist Adina Merenlender received a $5 million gift to train California climate stewards through a program similar to California Naturalist. Ackerly also noted that Giannini Hall is closing temporarily for seismic upgrades so faculty and staff are packing to move out during construction.

Katherine Uhrich, dean of the UC Riverside College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, announced CNAS has hired 24 faculty this year including two Nobel laureates – Richard Shrock and Barry Barish. She also announced that Givaudan, a Swiss company that creates fragrances and flavors, is donating funds to cover UCR's citrus variety collection, to protect the trees from pests and diseases.

Michael Lairmore, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, announced that his veterinary team worked tirelessly treating animals injured during the Camp Fire, taking in 70 animals, most of which have returned to their families. About $2 million has been donated to offset the costs of treating the animals. Veterinarian Jamie Peyton covered burns on cats and dogs with tilapia skin to help with healing and has a provisional patent for the fish skin treatment. Lairmore also announced the school is planning to build a Livestock and Field Service Center. “We are in need of donations and there are naming opportunities for interested individuals or companies,” Lairmore told PAC members. He also announced the hiring of Emmanuel Okello, the new UCCE specialist in antimicrobial stewardship.

The PAC, which meets twice a year, will meet next in the spring.

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