ANR has a tight budget, not budget crisis
ANR's budget is tight this year, but we don't have a budget crisis, VP Glenda Humiston emphasized during the ANR town hall on Aug. 15. In addition to the budget update, Humiston discussed UCPath, which launches on Oct. 1, and answered ANR members' questions during the 78-minute online meeting that was scheduled for an hour.
ANR's budget remained at $72.6 million for FY 2019-20, the same as last year, while expenses including salaries and benefits have increased nearly $5 million. She shared the good news that President Janet Napolitano will provide ANR with $2.2 million to help cover some of the shortfall the flat budget has created.
Despite the tight budget, Humiston reiterated ANR's commitment to continuing salary equity programs.
“ANR people are our most important resource, they are our infrastructure, so to speak, because without our people we can't do extension, we can't do research,” she said.
In addition to the one-time $2.2 million supplement, ANR will also receive $19 million to help with deferred maintenance.
“This is a huge increase over the roughly $700K we typically receive per year,” Humiston said, noting that the $19 million designated for capital projects cannot be spent for anything else. “We will also have access to more funding for this critical need as part of the General Obligation Bond that will be on next year's ballot.”
She also addressed concerns about the number of UC Cooperative Extension academics.
“Despite a 20-year slide in funding from the state and federal government, we have been able to retain academic numbers through partnering more on shared appointments and redirection of administrative funds to programs. I'm very proud to say that the graph of our academic footprint has not been dropping the past 4 years.”
She pointed out that the state had been cutting funding for the entire UC system. The campuses are able to increase tuition fees to make up the difference while ANR depends on contracts, grants, private giving and other new funding sources. Humiston encouraged everyone to work with Development Services for support in securing more funding. She also urged everyone to tell stakeholders about the value of ANR's work for California.
“There is nothing, nothing good about being the best kept secret out there,” Humiston said.
“All of you do fantastic work. We've got to let our stakeholders know that and we also need to let them know about our budget situation.”
UCPath launches Oct. 1
John Fox, director of Human Resources, reminded everyone that UCPath will officially launch next month. As part of the transition, the AYSO website will become view-only for personal information, tax withholding, and benefits on Aug. 30; all future changes will have to be made in the UCPath portal when it goes live Sept. 27.
The first paychecks from the new UCPath system will be issued on Oct. 1 for monthly paid employees, and on Oct. 2 for bi-weekly paid employees. Fox emphasized that meeting timesheet deadlines is critical in ensure accurate and timely pay in the new system.
As UCPath goes live, the UC ANR Beehive – a team of people who have been involved in the project – will be available to academics and staff to help troubleshoot.
Visit the UC ANR UCPath website at http://ucpath.ucanr.edu to preview the employee self-service portal and get answers to frequently asked questions. Comments and questions can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q & A
The following are some questions that were asked during the town hall:
Can you provide the actual budget numbers behind the charts and power point slides that were shared by Glenda to the CDs in January as well as current budget numbers?
Yes, we can provide the numbers. See the pie charts at the bottom of the one-page budget handout. We will post more budget information in a separate story.
When will we find out about professional development funds?
At the time of the call, AVP Wendy Powers had not received her budget letter. She expects the amount of professional development funds to be the same as last year and to announce within the next two weeks.
Did (or will) the ANR budget challenges impact decisions on academics' merit/promotion/accelerations?
No. While the budget situation may impact the amount of money for salary equity programs or the increase to base scales (3% for CE Advisors and CE Specialists), it does not influence the merit and promotion decisions. Every year the percent of successful merits and promotions varies, as does the number of requests submitted and what requests are made. High level data suggest that this year's success rate is within the range since 2016. That high level data will be shared with the Academic Assembly Council for broader distribution.
When is leadership going to update and improve ANR maternity leave policy, same for paternity leave. When will leadership begin to better align vacation for staff with vacation for academics?
UC ANR leadership does not have the authority to unilaterally change leave policies for our employees. We are part of the UC system. Policies for academics and staff are consistent across the system, and changes generally would have to be approved by the President or the Regents.
When will we see/hear about the new communication strategy being created by our new communication leader?
A working strategic communications plan has been developed. Strategic Communications and Publishing are embarking on a combined strategic planning effort in September to develop longer-term strategies.
Why do we not have a map of specialists and advisors that serve our state on our website?
Informatics and GIS has created two maps. The storymap at http://arcg.is/0yWGfj can be used to quickly see where academic personnel covering specific subjects are located around the state. The UCANR Personnel Filtering App at https://arcg.is/0XHSXb can be used to query and visualize the data more fully. A short video (https://goo.gl/dzykqK) walks through the different features of the UCANR Personnel Filtering App.
How can we attract and retain talent for co-funded advisor positions when they have no indefinite status? How can co-funded academics maintain academic freedom when their position is tied to specific funding partners and their priorities?
For some time now, UC ANR has had two CE Advisors who are very talented and do not have indefinite status. We have successfully retained those individuals. More recently, we have attracted six more talented CE advisors into co-funded positions. All of these positions were filled upon the initial search.
Senior leadership is proud to have these people in these key positions, as are our funding partners. They are here now and there is no evidence that retention is an issue. There is no evidence that academic freedom is compromised. All of our academics are expected to work with stakeholders to identify their priority needs.
Are ANR staff encouraged to contact their local legislative representative to discuss ANR's contribution to California's leading ag industry?
You may and should educate and inform elected state and federal officials and their staff of the work you do in their districts. As UC employees, we cannot take positions on bills or ask for budgetary support without the expressed consent of the UC Office of the President. For more information, please contact Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, and read the one-pager at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/293044.pdf.
A recording of the 78-minute town hall is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62WrjR1Il7w.