Posts Tagged: Ashraf El-Kereamy
El-kereamy named Lindcove REC director
Ashraf El-kereamy will be the new director of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Lindcove Research & Extension Center, starting on July 1, 2020. He will continue to serve as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside and based at Lindcove Research & Extension Center.
“Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell retires this year after 13 years as director of Lindcove REC, California's premier citrus research center,” said Mark Lagrimini, UC ANR vice provost for research and extension. “We are excited to have Ashraf in place to carry on the tremendous success attributable to the research performed at Lindcove. Ashraf brings a breadth of research, extension and leadership skills.”
El-kereamy has extensive experience with several commodities with research revolving around plant hormones, fruit ripening, plant nutrition, and the responses of different plant species to abiotic stress conditions.
Since February 2019, El-kereamy has been serving as a UC Cooperative Extension citrus specialist based at Lindcove Research and Extension Center. Prior to the specialist position, El-kereamy was a UCCE viticulture and small fruit advisor for Kern County, where he established a research and extension program serving the San Joaquin Valley table grape industry for four years. Prior to joining UC ANR, he was an assistant/associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at Ain Shams University in Egypt.
“I am honored and very excited to be the director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center, which plays a crucial role in the California citrus industry,” El-kereamy said. “I am confident that, with the support of our industry, community and the University of California, we will build tomorrow's Lindcove REC as a center of excellence in research and extension. I am looking forward to leading Lindcove REC and providing our clientele with up-to-date technologies to cope with the challenges facing the California agriculture industry.”
El-kereamy earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture and master's degree in pomology from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, and a doctorate in agriculture with an emphasis in grapevine physiology and molecular biology from Toulouse University in France.
Campbell named NORDP Rising Star for 2020
The National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) has named Vanity Campbell, UC ANR proposal development coordinator, one of its three Rising Stars for 2020.
Campbell helps UC ANR employees improve their grant applications for success in receiving funding.
“Vanity's reputation as a fierce advocate for inclusive research development, an exceptional organizer, and a passionate cheerleader for her colleagues makes her precisely the kind of person this award was designed to celebrate,” wrote her nominator. “When I think about the future of NORDP, I hope she is helping us to lead it.”
NORDP established the Rising Star Award in 2016 to recognize up to three members annually who have made outstanding volunteer contributions and show great potential for future contributions to NORDP and the research development profession. Campbell will be presented with an etched glass plaque and receive free registration for a future NORDP conference.
Communicators win global awards
Six UC ANR-affiliated communicators won writing or photography awards in a global competition hosted by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE).
Steve Elliott, communications coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, won one silver (second-place) and two bronze (third-place) for his writing and photography; Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, two silvers for her writing and photography; and Diane Nelson, communication specialist for the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, won a bronze for her writing.
Ricardo Vela, Miguel Sanchez and Norma de la Vega of UC ANR's News and Information Outreach in Spanish won a bronze award in diversity electronic media and audio for targeted audiences.
Elliott's entries and the categories:
- Writing for the Web, silver award for “IPM in Yellowstone”
- Photo Essay, bronze award for “Growing in Guam”
- Social media, bronze award for single blog post, “To Communicate Better, Start with Audience”
Garvey's entries and the categories:
- Writing for Newspapers, silver award for “Paying It Forward,” about the successful career of award-winning academic advisor Elvira Galvan Hack
- Picture Story, silver award for “Kira Meets a Stick Insect” (at Bohart Museum of Entomology)
Nelson's entry and category:
- Writing for the Web, bronze award for "Can Science Save Citrus?"
Vela, Sanchez and de la Vega's entry and category:
- Diversity electronic media and audio for targeted audiences, bronze award for Breakfast - Desayuno de Campeones - English and Spanish videos
The awards were presented during ACE's virtual conference June 24. ACE is an international association of communicators, educators and information technologists who focus on communicating research-based information. The organization offers professional development and networking for individuals who extend knowledge about agriculture, natural resources, and life and human sciences.
Meyer receives Bradford-Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award
Deanne Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension livestock waste management specialist, is this year's recipient of the Eric Bradford & Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award, given by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) at UC Davis.
Meyer is being honored for her leadership in substantially improving the sustainability of California's dairy industry through her research and outreach.
The Bradford-Rominger award recognizes and honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.
Meyer has directed the environmental stewardship efforts of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP)—a voluntary partnership between the dairy industry, government and academia—since the program's inception in 1996.
Meyer's dedication to build a bridge between industry and regulatory agencies has paid dividends for California's air and water quality. With Meyer's leadership, more than 700 dairy farms have completed an on-site, third-party evaluation of their facility's manure management. The program has been so successful that it received California's highest environmental honor, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, in 2007.
Reflecting on Meyer's work, Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said, “Serving as chair of California's Water Quality Task Force in the mid-1990s, I had a front row seat to the challenges Deanne faced as she organized CDQAP and brought many unlikely allies to the table. The many successes of that program is a testament to her skills as both a scientist and a diplomat.”
Beyond Meyer's work with CDQAP, her research in groundwater salinity has provided farmers, agency staff and other concerned stakeholders with unbiased information presented with an understanding of agricultural realities.
“Her efforts, leadership, and dedication are so valued by all the diverse sectors she works across,” said Anita Oberbauer, professor and dean for Agricultural Sciences at UC Davis. “By working closely with regulatory agencies and farmers, she ensures our state's livestock and dairy producers have the tools that they need to meet the environmental challenges.”
Ashraf El-Kereamy was appointed UC Cooperative Extension citrus horticultural specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside on Feb. 1, 2019.
He had been working as a UCCE area viticulture advisor serving Kern, Tulare and Kings counties since 2014.
Prior to joining UCCE, El-Kereamy worked as a post-doc research associate at University of Guelph, studying plant drought and heat stress tolerance in plants from 2013 to 2014, and studying the genotypes variation in nitrogen use efficiency and plant heat stress tolerance from 2008 to 2012. From 2012 to 2013, he was assistant/associate professor in the Department of Horticulture, Ain Shams University, Egypt, where he taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses for horticultural science and served as the principal investigator for a U.S.-Egypt joint collaborative research project between University of Wyoming and Ain Shams University on improving grapevine tolerance to drought and heat stress. As a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Guelph, Vineland, El-Kereamy studied the pathogenesis-related proteins during plum fruit ripening. As a University of Manitoba post-doc, he studied the physiological role of abscisic acid in plants.
He earned his Ph.D. in agriculture with an emphasis in grape physiology and molecular biology from INP-ENSAT, Toulouse University, Toulouse, France, and a M.Sc. in pomology and B.Sc. in horticulture, both from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt.
El-Kereamy is based at Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter, and can be reached at (559) 592-2408, Cell: (661) 703-4678 and email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ashrafelkereamy.
Galdi joins UCCE in Siskiyou County
Giuliano C. Galdi joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2019, as a UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor in Siskiyou County.
Prior to joining UCCE, Galdi was a junior specialist at UC Davis (May 2017 – December 2018), where he worked on a variety of field trials, mainly alfalfa and forage crops, with the objective to improve sustainability of water use and hay quality. Tasks included irrigation scheduling, planting/harvesting trials, and data handling and analysis. As a master's student and student research assistant at Fresno State (2014-2017), Galdi evaluated salinity tolerance in different alfalfa varieties, attended conferences, and presented research in the form of posters and talks. He speaks Portuguese fluently.
Galdi completed a M.S. in plant sciences from Fresno State and a B.S. in agronomy engineering from University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Galdi is based in Yreka and can be reached at (530) 842-2711 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @uccesiskiyou.
Grettenberger joins UCCE as field and vegetable crops specialist
Ian Grettenberger joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2019, as a field and vegetable crops assistant specialist in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis. Grettenberger is interested in advancing integrated pest management in field and vegetable crops, plant-insect interactions, and applied insect ecology.
Grettenberger earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Penn State University and a BS in biology from Western Washington University.
Prior to joining UCCE, Grettenberger was a postdoctoral research scholar at UC Davis, working first with Larry Godfrey and then with Frank Zalom.
Meng joins UCCE in Imperial County
Yu Meng joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2019, as the youth, families and communities advisor serving Imperial County, UC Desert Research and Extension Center and communities near the U.S.-Mexico border. Her responsibilities will focus on providing community development programs in the area of youth, families, and communities, with major outreach to the Latino youth and families.
Prior to joining UCCE, Meng worked for a USDA-funded project known as "the WAVE~Ripples for change" in collaboration with Oregon State University professionals, extension, community partners, high school soccer coaches, and school districts, and other dedicated volunteers. The program was designed to prevent unhealthy weight gain among 15- to 19-year-old soccer players. Most of the youth she worked with were Latinos and from low-income families. During this time, Meng helped develop and test the first sports nutrition, physical activity, family and consumer sciences curriculum for active youth. Her work resulted in positive developments in youth, reducing added sugar intake, maintaining fruit and vegetable intake over time, and improving the awareness of sports nutrition. Participating youth also applied additional skills they learned from gardening and cooking workshops at their homes and shared the lessons and practical applications with their respective families.
Meng is fluent in Chinese and originally from China, where she worked for food industries and started to notice the nutrition issues with processed foods and their effects on children's health. With that in mind, she came to the U.S. and earned a master's degree and Ph.D.
She completed a Ph.D. in nutrition science from Oregon State University, a M.S. in food science and nutrition from Utah State University, and a B.S. in Food Science and Engineering from Southern China University of Technology, China.
Meng is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7700 and email@example.com.
York joins UCCE as silviculture and forest specialist
Robert York joined UC ANR on Jan. 2, 2019, as a UC Cooperative Extension silviculture and applied forest ecology assistant specialist and adjunct associate professor of forestry in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. He directs research and management activity on the Berkeley Forests, a network of five research forests covering the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forest from Shasta to Tulare counties.
York is a Registered Professional Forester in California. He earned a Ph.D. in forest ecology and silviculture, a M.S. in forest community ecology and a B.S. in forest management, all from UC Berkeley.
Prior to joining UCCE, York has been the research station manager at Blodgett Forest Research Station with UC Berkeley.
York is based in Georgetown and can be reached at (530) 333-4475 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forbes named Strategic Communications director
Linda Forbes joined UC ANR as Strategic Communications director on Feb. 19.
Forbes brings over 15 years of communications experience as a marketing and branding leader in the private sector and most recently at UC Davis. Since 2012, she served as associate director of marketing at UC Davis, leading initiatives such as the award-winning monthly Aggie Tip Sheet and major advertising campaigns, as well as collaborating with campus colleagues to promote the impact and value of UC Davis on a variety of digital platforms. Travelers who fly out of the Sacramento airport may have seen ads from the last campaign she led, which included the “You sip, we solve” ad showcasing UC Davis advances in protecting the water supply.
Before coming to UC, Forbes led marketing for a statewide accounting firm and managed an automotive aftermarket brand. But Forbes, whose father was a USDA veterinarian, had a desire to contribute her skills to an organization that solves agricultural and environmental issues.
“We look forward to having Linda lead our efforts to transform ANR from the university's ‘best kept secret' to a well-known, valued service,” said Wendy Powers, associate vice president
Forbes is located in room 175 in the ANR building in Davis. She can be reached at (530) 750-1204 and email@example.com.
Scott joins ANR as payroll manager
Anne Marie Scott joined ANR's Business Operations Center as ANR payroll manager on Feb. 7, 2019.
Scott brings strong payroll management and UCPath expertise with 19 years of UC experience in payroll, employment tax and accounts payable management. Most recently, she served as the payroll manager for the UC Office of the President working in the new UCPath system for the past year and a half. Prior to UCOP, she worked for UC Davis for 17 years as a payroll accountant, accounts payable division manager and also as the payroll manager for one of UCD's new shared service centers. She is also a Certified Payroll Professional.
Her experience working in the UCPath system at UCOP will uniquely enhance ANR's transition of payroll services to the new UCPath system. Scott will lead the ANR BOC payroll team providing time reporting and payroll services to all ANR units statewide. She will also work closely with the ANR Human Resources team to ensure efficient coordination between HR actions and payroll services.
Scott is based at the ANR Building in Davis and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and (530) 750-1273.
Zilberman awarded Wolf Prize
David Zilberman, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist and professor of agricultural and resources economics at UC Berkeley, has been awarded the 2019 Wolf Prize in Agriculture in recognition of his work developing economic models for fundamental problems in agriculture, economics and policy.
The Wolf Prize is an international award granted by the Wolf Foundation in six categories: agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics and the arts. The prize in the agriculture category is often referred to as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in agriculture.
The award citation names Zilberman as “a leading protagonist in debates over water policy, environmental and resource policy in agriculture and the bioeconomy,” and highlights his career as “a unique mixture of theoretical work, applied research and extension.”
"I am deeply honored to have been selected,” said Zilberman, who holds the Robinson Chair in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “This prize is a recognition of my entire community: my family, my collaborators, my teachers in Israel and Berkeley, the College of Natural Resources, and the uniquely supportive and inspiring Berkeley campus."
Read more about Zilberman's career achievements at https://nature.berkeley.edu/news/2019/01/david-zilberman-awarded-wolf-prize-agriculture.
Davy, Mashiri, James and Kyser win award for weed paper
The Weed Science Society of America honored four ANR members with its Outstanding Paper Award, Invasive Plant Science and Management.
Timing Aminopyralid to Prevent Seed Production Controls Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) and Increases Forage Grasses.”
Their co-authors were Matthew J. Rinella, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service; Susan E. Bellows, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, and Vanelle F. Peterson, Dow AgroSciences.
The award was presented Feb. 11 during the organization's annual meeting in New Orleans.
Humiston honored by California Legislature
The California Legislature recognized Vice President Glenda Humiston and Paul Granillo, president of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, as recipients of the California Economic Summit's 2018 Steward Leader Awards on Feb. 4.
Humiston received the California Steward Leader Award, which recognizes statewide contributions, and Granillo received the Regional Steward Leader Award, which recognizes regional contributions. The awards were presented at last year's California Economic Summit.
Senator Anna Caballero and Assemblymember Jose Medina issued joint resolutions to Humiston and Granillo commending their exemplary records of civic leadership, both have served on the California Economic Summit Steering Committee since its inception in 2011.
Caballero read a resolution recognizing VP Glenda Humiston as recipient of the 2018 California Steward Leader Award.
Read more about Humiston's award at https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=28665.
California is constantly being challenged by pest invasions, obesity, labor shortages, water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change and more. To accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that address these challenges and advance food, agriculture and natural resources in California, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and AgStart will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to cultivate the Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship (the VINE).
Like a grapevine, the VINE will connect existing clusters of innovation across California and link entrepreneurs with mentors, advisors, collaborators, events, competitions, education and other services to turn good ideas into products and services people can use.
“We want to make sure every Californian has the support system to take a novel idea and commercialize a new product or start a new business,” said VP Glenda Humiston. “They don't have to be a university inventor, they could be a farmer or a young person.”
AgStart itself was established with an EDA i6 Challenge grant to assist agriculture and food technology entrepreneurs in the Sacramento Valley region. Since 2012, AgStart has supported more than 58 entrepreneurs and their companies.
“In 2016, of the 16 entrepreneurial companies that AgStart assisted, eight resided outside our region, and leveraged AgStart's program to make connections into our Sacramento Valley region,” said John Selep, president of AgTech Innovation Alliance, AgStart's sponsor.
“The VINE will expand this AgStart model of connecting entrepreneurs to the resources they need to be successful, to enable entrepreneurs residing anywhere in California to connect to the clusters of resources, contacts, mentors and potential partners that have emerged across the state,” said Selep.
“There are many wonderful regional innovation hubs in food, agriculture and natural resources so we plan to bring value by amplifying their efforts, connecting regions and organizations into a more cohesive ecosystem, and bringing value-added resources that ultimately benefit all Californians through the innovations affecting our economic prosperity, food supply and environment,” Youtsey said.
UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, who work in every county, can provide insight into real-world conditions that entrepreneurs should consider in the development stage. UC ANR's nine research and extension centers can provide locations to field-test products and demonstrate their effectiveness. For example, start-up Blue River is testing its technology by flying a drone over sorghum crops to collect data at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.
For the last two years, UC ANR has hosted the Apps for Ag hackathon and has introduced the winners to mentors, tech industry advisors, farmers, funders and legal experts who can advise entrepreneurs on business structure.
The VINE, which is working with UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health and Valley Vision, is being structured to complement other efforts to establish food, agriculture, and natural resources incubation and innovation resources in cluster locations around the state, such as the BlueTechValley Regional Innovation Cluster, the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center, UC Merced's VentureLab and others.
Youtsey and Selep are seeking more VINE partners with expertise across the business spectrum.
“If our vision is successful, the VINE will make California the most fertile region in the world for entrepreneurs in ag and food technology to establish themselves, to prosper and grow,” Selep said.
Slattery rejoins UCCE in Butte County
Chelsey Slattery rejoined UC Cooperative Extension on Sept. 18, 2017, as an area nutrition, family, and consumer sciences advisor in Butte County.
From 2013 to 2016, Slattery was a UCCE community education specialist, supervising the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties.
From July 2016 to September 2017, Slattery was a program manager at UC Davis Center for Nutrition Schools, where she oversaw a statewide, multi-component, evidence-based, and research-tested nutrition education program. She facilitated training in coordination with the UC CalFresh State Office and UC CalFresh counties throughout the state of California.
Concurrently, Slattery has been working as a per-diem nutrition specialist since 2015 at Shady Creek Outdoor Education Foundation, where she provides oversight and guidance for the Fit Quest program, bringing comprehensive children's wellness programs to Northern California schools.
Slattery earned an M.S. in organizational leadership from the School of Business Management at National University. She completed a B.S. in exercise physiology/exercise science from CSU Chico.
Based in Oroville, Slattery can be reached at (530) 538-7201 and email@example.com.
California Naturalist wins ANROSP outstanding team award
The California Naturalist Program was named the 2017 Outstanding Team by the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP). Sabrina Drill, associate director of California Naturalist and UC Cooperative Extension advisor, and Marisa Rodriguez, community education specialist with California Naturalist in Southern California, accepted the award on Sept. 21 at the annual ANROSP conference held at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Ore.
Led by director Adina Merenlender, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, the CalNat staff includes Greg Ira, academic coordinator; Brook Gamble, community education specialist; Drill and Rodriguez.
Teamwork is fundamental to the program structure. Since 2012, California Naturalist has certified more than 1,800 Naturalists, who have logged over 100,000 volunteer hours.
The team credits its success to the support and efforts across UC ANR and an extended team of course partners, instructors, statewide partners, educators, scientists, conservation practitioners, and many others who have contributed to the continued adaptive development of the program.
Grant to be inducted into Ag Hall of Fame
On Oct. 19, Joseph Grant, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, will be among the people inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame at the 33rd Annual Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet.
For most of his career, Grant, who retired in 2016, worked as a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor and is known for his research on walnuts, cherries, apples, olives and other tree crops.
“It's kind of awesome. I mean when you look at the other people that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, I don't consider myself in that class of people so it's humbling,” Grant said about his induction to the Lodi News-Sentinel.
In addition to Grant, the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame will honor Henry “Skip” Foppiano, Jack and Pati Hamm and Hank Van Exel, and give a posthumous honor to winemaker Robert Gerald Mondavi.
According to the Hall of Fame, it “honors those individuals who have contributed to agriculture and to their community in significant ways.”
The banquet will be held at the Robert J. Cabral Ag Center in Stockton. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased by calling the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce at (209) 547-2770 or by visiting http://stocktonchamber.org/ag-hall-of-fame.
USDA-ARS bestows B.Y. Morrison Medal on Zalom
Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and integrated pest management (IPM) specialist, has been named the recipient of the 2017 B.Y. Morrison Medal by U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).
Zalom is the first entomologist to receive the coveted award established in 1968, according to Kim Kaplan of the USDA-ARS Office of Communications.
Zalom was singled out for his outstanding work in IPM related to sustainable horticulture production, specifically for “his outstanding leadership and public service in IPM for horticultural crops at the regional, state, national and international levels; his stellar accomplishments in horticultural crops sustainability and pest management and his work ethic, service, courage and integrity, all driven by his insatiable curiosity and passion to solve problems in the horticultural crops landscape,” Kaplan said.
Zalom received the award, co-sponsored by USDA-ARS and the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), on Sept. 21 at the ASHS conference in Waikoloa, Hawaii. He presented the Morrison Memorial Lecture on “Significance of Integrated Pest Management to Sustainable Horticultural Production – Observations and Experiences.”
Read more at //ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=25218. -- Kathy Keatley Garvey
The UC ANR Staff Assembly Council will hold a Staff Assembly Ambassadors meeting at the ANR Building in Davis on Oct. 10. The engagement will provide an opportunity for ambassadors to visit and network with colleagues and review Staff Assembly priorities. Additionally, they will discuss opportunities for staff to become more involved in addressing staff concerns and furthering organizational goals.
UC ANR Tote Bags
In an effort to help spread the word about UC ANR Staff Assembly, all Staff Assembly members will receive a We Are UC ANR Staff Assembly tote bag. Members of the UC Staff Assembly include all ANR staff, whether employed by the county or the university, represented by a union or not represented. UC ANR Staff Assembly Ambassadors are the points of contact for distributing the bags at each office.
CUCSA Fall 2017 Meeting
UC San Diego was the site of the CUCSA (Council of University of California Staff Assemblies) Fall 2017 Meeting Sept. 6-8. The meeting included a team building exercise, work group action planning, post retirement health benefit discussions and a review of UC Employee Engagement Survey results. UC ANR junior delegate LeChé McGill and senior delegate Jeannette Warnert represented UC ANR staff at the meeting.
On the subject of potential changes to post-retirement health benefits, CUCSA chair Lina Layiktez provided the summary below and links for more information.
Proposed change to post-retirement health benefits
The proposed action item for the July 2017 Regents meeting was to remove the 70 percent floor on the UC contribution to retiree health benefits and place a cap of 3 percent on year-over-year increases to UC costs. This is a policy change to offset the accounting rule changes required in "GASB 75." GASB 75 requires that the full actuarial value of other postemployment benefits (OPEB) be included on the systemwide balance sheet. This means that UC will have a perceived “new” liability of $21 billion, which would affect the system's overall credit rating. A hit to the UC's credit rating has obvious impacts to financing for the university.
The “new” GASB 75 requirement definition is subject to interpretation, since it was already a liability that was disclosed in previous year's financials. The value of this liability under current assumptions/retiree rules is approximately $21 billion. The current assumptions are being driven by the number of retirees in the system plus the number of potential retirees (active staff and faculty) and how much it would cost the system in health-care costs should the current employees retire today.
What does this all mean?
By removing the floor and capping UC's costs, the university effectively transfers rising health-care premiums to retirees. The assumed rate of health-care cost increase is 7 percent. Over the course of 20 years this would flip the proportion that UC pays to ~30 percent and the retiree to ~70 percent. The 70 percent floor was designed to provide some stability to retiree health-care costs.
What do we see happening?
Many UC employees choose to retire after calculating their retirement income. This is necessary because, except for Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA), there is no way for retirees to increase their income from the university. So when out-of-pocket health-care costs go up for retirees, this eats into their living expenses. There are already retirees and survivors of retirees who have to choose between health-care costs and food. To suddenly remove the 70% floor exacerbates this problem.
What can you do?
The campus staff assemblies are collecting feedback locally and sharing this up to the Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA), who will be coordinating a response to the UC President and/or Board of Regents. We are also working on a list of questions that include queries, such as what OPEB would look like if it grandparented current employees and implemented the changes to future retirees? What does this mean for retention of employees with 10 to 20 years of service?
The most powerful and helpful thing for us now is to hear about your personal concerns and how this impacts you. Would no OPEB mean you are less likely to retire from the UC system and take a job elsewhere for more money now? Will you have to postpone your retirement if, in retirement, you will have to pay a greater portion of your OPEB than you had planned for under the current plan?
Share your questions and stories with us on the UC ANR Staff Assembly website.
Fortunately, the July agenda was revised and this item was moved to the November meeting agenda. Moving the item to November will allow for more consultation and discussion. It is unknown what approach the UC Office of the President (OP) will take to solicit feedback and engage in discussion. But as that information becomes available, we will make sure to share it broadly. We are hopeful that CUCSA (and therefore a voice of staff) will be included in the discussions and that OP will convene a task force representing all parties that will be affected by the proposed changes. Stay tuned.
Click here for the original July Regents Meeting Agenda Item (F7), which was then revised to remove the discussion on the 70 percent floor.
The immediate past chair of the systemwide Academic Senate, Jim Chalfant, has already written a letter to the UC President on this issue. You can read it online here: http://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/reports/JC-JN-Retiree-Health.pdf.
We can work collectively to inform and educate staff on this important matter. We are stronger together and the more voices that participate, the louder the message will be to those making the decisions that affect all of us.
UC ANR human resources director John Fox also said one important point that isn't addressed in the CUCSA summary is Medicare coverage. “When a UC retiree enrolls in Medicare, the monthly medical premium costs are significantly reduced (both for the retiree and for UC). Much of the future liability that UC is trying to control (and the risk of high monthly costs for the retirees) is during the time between retirement from UC and the start of Medicare eligibility (typically age 65).”
If you would like to share your stories or post a comment on this proposed change, please fill out the form on the UC ANR Staff Assembly website. We will share comments and stories from UC ANR with CUCSA leadership, who will compile it with information from other campuses to share with the UC President and UC Regents.