Posts Tagged: Randi Black
Baur named Western IPM Center director
After leading the Western Integrated Pest Management Center through the global COVID crisis as acting director, Matt Baur has been named permanent director effective July 1 to lead the center into the post-pandemic future.
Baur, an IPM practitioner and entomologist by training, had been the Western IPM Center's associate director since 2014.
“Like everyone, the center had to change the way we worked during the pandemic and some of those changes are likely to continue into our future,” Baur predicted. “The region we serve in the West is huge – Guam to Colorado, Alaska to New Mexico – and the remote technologies and virtual platforms we all became familiar with in 2020 can help us connect across those miles.”
Baur's goals for the center are to build on its successes and expand its outreach to serve new areas and audiences, promoting smart, safe and sustainable pest management across the region to protect the people, environment and economy of the American West.
“The vision of the center is “A healthier West with fewer pests,'” he explained, “and that's something I care about deeply. I have two sons and promoting integrated pest management is one way I help protect their world.”
Baur sees a need to reconnect with the people who research and teach IPM, and plans to attend meetings and conferences for all the scientific disciplines involved in pest management. He also plans to expand the center's connections to communities that have been under-represented and under-served in the past.
“I believe it's vital that we not only listen to but represent all the stakeholders in the West affected by pests and pest-management practices,” Baur said. “There are voices we haven't heard and communities we haven't served well in the past, and I am very happy to have the opportunity to change that. Integrated pest management can be a way to promote environmental and social justice, and as a regional IPM center, we can be leaders in that.”
Before joining the Western IPM Center, Baur worked as a research scientist at DuPont/Pioneer and was a research assistant professor at Louisiana State University. He received his doctorate in entomology at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and his bachelor's degree in biology from UC San Diego. He is a licensed pest control adviser in the state of California.
Baur is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at email@example.com. – Steve Elliott
Shum named director of Business Operations Center
Su-Lin Shum joined UC ANR as director of the Business Operations Center June 14, 2021. Shum will oversee the consolidated Business Operations Center in Davis.
Shum brings over 25 years of experience in financial management, budget oversight, and financial operations and analysis within the UC system and beyond. Throughout her career, she has specialized in finance and business services while serving as the director of finance and business services at Sierra College, the director of budget and finance at the UC Berkeley Library, the interim assistant dean for Finance and Administration at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, and project manager and principal budget analyst at the UC Davis Budget Office.
While living in Canada, Shum served as the executive director of strategy and operations at the Pacific Carbon Trust Environmental Investment Agency and as director of corporate planning, reporting and program reviews/audits at the British Columbia Office of the Auditor General.
Shum earned an MBA from Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, and a BA from the University of British Columbia.
Shum is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kawakami named associate director of statewide programs operations and RECs
Heather Kawakami rejoined ANR as associate director of statewide programs operations and research and extension centers on June 7.
Kawakami, who has worked for UC since 1992, served as chief business officer for the Nutrition Policy Institute in 2017 and 2018. She has also worked in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, most recently as the business unit manager for the Department of Plant Sciences.
She earned a BA in medieval studies with a minor in Latin from UC Davis.
Kawakami is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at email@example.com.
Haghverdi receives UCOWR Early Career Award
Amir Haghverdi, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in irrigation and water management in the Environmental Sciences Department at UC Riverside, has been selected to receive the 2021 Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) Early Career Award for Applied Research. The national award recognizes outstanding early contributions in applied research related to water and promise of continued professional growth and recognition.
Haghverdi's research focuses on developing and disseminating scientific knowledge, practical recommendations, and tools for sustainable urban and agricultural water resources management. His approaches include field research trials, laboratory analyses, and computer modeling to identify opportunities for synergy between research and extension activities. His main research themes include irrigation water management, root zone soil hydrology, and precision agriculture. He is also interested in applications of advanced data acquisition and mining techniques, including remote sensing, GIS (geographic information systems) and GPS (global positioning system) technologies, machine learning, and wireless sensors.
UCOWR is a consortium of academic institutions and affiliates invested in water resources research, education and outreach.
4-H wins Diversity & Inclusion Award
The 2016-2019 UC 4-H Latino Initiative is the recipient of the Diversity & Inclusion: Expanding the 4-H Audience Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals.
Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, statewide 4-H director, and 4-H advisors Steven Worker, John Borba, Claudia Diaz-Carrasco, Russell Hill, Katherine Soule and Liliana Vega, and Lupita Fabregas, former 4-H Youth Development assistant director for diversity and expansion, developed, implemented and evaluated culturally responsive program models to attract and retain Latino youth, families and volunteers into 4-H.
The project focused on seven counties – Kern, Merced, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Sonoma – selected to represent rural, suburban and urban communities. The number of Latino youth participating in the 4-H program increased more than 250% in three years. Youth enrollment statewide grew from 1.1% of the school-aged population in 2016 to 1.9% at the end of 2019. All counties achieved parity – within 80% of Latino youth in the population – by the end of year three (except Orange County which withdrew in year two). Read more about the UC 4-H Latino Initiative at http://4h.ucanr.edu/Resources/Latino/.
The NAE4-HYDP Diversity & Inclusion Award recognizes outstanding effort and accomplishments in achieving, expanding and/or sustaining diversity in the NAE4-HYDP organization, programs, and/or audiences.
The UC 4-H Latino Initiative team will be recognized at the NAE4-HYDP Conference in Memphis, Tenn., on November 16 or 17.
WEDA honors California Dairy Quality Assurance Program
The Western Extension Directors Association presented a 2021 Award of Excellence to the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program - Environmental Stewardship: A Public Private Partnership.
Launched in 1997, the program is led by Deanne Meyer, UCCE livestock waste management specialist, UCCE advisors Betsy Karle, Jennifer Heguy, David Lewis, Jeffery Stackhouse, Nicholas Clark, Randi Black and Daniela Bruno, and Denise Mullinax of the California Dairy Research Foundation.
The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program is a voluntary partnership between the dairy industry, government and academia. It has been proactive in addressing environmental concerns, setting up a voluntary certification project before the adoption of water quality regulations that targeted nitrogen management. To protect California's air and water quality, more than 700 dairy farms have completed an on-site, third-party evaluation of their facility's manure management.
Uhde named Bloomberg American Health Initiative Fellow
Katherine Uhde, UC Master Gardener Program coordinator in Santa Clara County, has been selected as one of 50 Bloomberg fellows to receive full scholarships to earn a Master of Public Health through the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Uhde's project will focus on environmental challenges. She is working with Lucy Diekmann, UCCE urban agriculture and food systems advisor for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, to develop project ideas that address public health practice needs.
“Generally, the project will focus on environmental health and wellness in Santa Clara County and the Bay Area,” Uhde said.
U.S. Golf honors Harivandi
Ali Harivandi, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension turfgrass advisor, recently received an Ike Grainger Award from the United States Golf Association.
A UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulturist based in Alameda County who specialized in turf, soil and water for 33 years, Harivandi served on the USGA's Turfgrass and Environment Committee and Green Section Research Committee. He is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert on recycled water use on golf courses and other landscape sites. His expertise in soil and water quality have been important to the USGA.
Each year, the USGA presents the Ike Grainger Award to individuals who have served the Association as a volunteer for 25 years. These dedicated men and women tirelessly give back to the game through a variety of roles.
Harivandi was instrumental in encouraging the committee to seek out research to develop warm season grasses with greater drought tolerance and grasses that will some day be able to remain green during the winter in areas where bermudagrass has historically gone dormant.
Garvey wins ACE photo awards
Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis communications specialist for UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won silver and bronze awards in a photography competition hosted by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE). ACE announced the awards June 22 at its virtual conference.
She captured the silver with a Canon MPE-65mm lens and posted the image at https://bit.ly/3cUx358 Aug. 10, 2020, on her Bug Squad blog.
“The purpose of my image is to draw attention to the dwindling monarch butterfly population,” wrote Garvey, who creates habitat for monarch butterflies in her family's pollinator garden. “They are on life support.” The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reports that overwintering monarchs have declined 99% in coastal California since the 1990s.
In addition to the silver award, Garvey won a bronze award for her photo series of male and female Gulf fritillaries, Agraulis vanillae, “keeping busy.” Her post, “Fifty Shades of Orange, with a Touch of Silver,” appeared July 13, 2020, on her Bug Squad blog at https://bit.ly/2Q6cU3q.
Tracy Schohr joined UCCE on Oct. 16, 2017, as an area livestock and natural resources advisor in Plumas, Sierra and Butte counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Schohr worked for the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis (2012-2014), where she co-led research projects on working rangelands focused on irrigated pasture, mountain meadows, livestock predation, annual rangelands and invasive species. She is a managing partner for Schohr Ranch (rice, cattle, walnuts and wetland management) where she is engaged in all facets of the operation from livestock production, financial accounting, equipment operation, human resources and marketing. From 2015 to 2017, Schohr also worked as a farmer outreach specialist for K-COE Isom, a national agricultural accounting and consulting firm, where she was a scientific and agricultural advisor on conservation initiatives. From 2006 to 2012, Schohr was the director of rangeland conservation for the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition. From 2004 to 2006, she served as director of industry affairs for the California Cattlemen's Association.
She completed an M.S. in horticulture and agronomy (rangeland focus) from UC Davis and a B.S. in agricultural business from CSU Chico.
Based in Quincy, Schohr can be reached at (530) 283-6262, cell (916) 716-2643 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @BeefnSushi.
Mary Bonaparte-Saller joined UCCE on Oct. 9 as a 4-H youth development advisor in Orange County.
Prior to joining UCCE, Bonaparte-Saller taught third- to fifth-grade classroom and field lessons at Sierra Nevada Journeys, a science and environmental education nonprofit. From 2011 to 2016, Bonaparte-Saller was a graduate student researcher at UC Davis, where she studied the social behavior and welfare of zoo elephants and mentored and supervised undergraduate research volunteers. During this time, she also engaged in youth education and outreach activities as a volunteer for the Kids into Discovering Science (KiDS) Program at UCD, Sacramento's Powerhouse Science Center, and the Sacramento Zoo.
She earned a Ph.D. in animal behavior at UC Davis and a B.S. biological sciences at UC Irvine.
Bonaparte-Saller is based in Irvine and can be reached at (949) 653-1814 and email@example.com.
Black joins UCCE as dairy advisor
Randi Black joined UCCE on Oct. 2 as an area dairy systems advisor in Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Black was a graduate research assistant at University of Tennessee (2013-2016) and University of Kentucky (2010-2012), leading and supervising dairy cow behavior research projects.
Born and raised in Versailles, Ky., Black ventured into agriculture working with thoroughbred race horses, but realized her passion for the dairy industry as an undergraduate.
She earned a B.S. and an M.S. in animal science at the University of Kentucky. Her thesis focused on the management of compost bedded pack barns within Kentucky dairy farms. She earned a Ph.D. in animal science from University of Tennessee. Her dissertation focused on the use of exercise during late gestation to improve postpartum health in dairy cows.
Black is based in Santa Rosa and can be reached at (707) 565-2648 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brooke Latack joined UCCE on Oct. 2 as an area desert livestock advisor in Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Latack worked in multiple positions at the Michigan State University Animal Air Quality Research Facility. As an undergraduate research assistant, professional aid, and graduate research assistant, Latack worked with beef, swine and poultry evaluating and addressing the environmental impact of management decisions in animal agriculture. Her primary research integrated systems dynamics feedback into understanding the environmental sustainability of animal protein production.
She earned a B.S. and an M.S. in animal science from Michigan State University.
Latack is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7700 and email@example.com.
Matthew Shapero joined UC ANR as a UCCE livestock and range advisor serving Ventura and Santa Barbara counties on Sept. 5. Prior to starting as an advisor, Matthew worked for the Rangeland Planning & Policy and the Rangeland Ecology labs at UC Berkeley and worked as a graduate student researcher at Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center. Shapero also has experience in small-scale, grass-fed meat production, working as rancher in the Sierra Nevada foothills between 2010 and 2016.
As one of ANR's Global Food Initiative fellows and Graduate Students in Extension in 2015-16, Shapero led a group of UC Berkeley graduate students in organizing seminars and workshops about careers with Cooperative Extension, including the Cooperative Extension Showcase, which brings UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists to the Berkeley campus to discuss their work and to network with graduate students.
He completed an M.S. in range management from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in religion and pre-med from Columbia University.
Shapero is based in Ventura and can be reached at (805) 645-1475 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Taylor joined UCCE as a community economic development specialist in the Department of Human Ecology at UC Davis on July 1, 2017.
Taylor earned a Ph.D. in human and community development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S. in public sdministration from the University of Illinois, and a B.A. in political science from Eastern Illinois University.
Prior to joining UC, Taylor worked as a research associate and visiting scholar with the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University Bloomington, where his research focused on the community economic development spillovers from renewable energy and food systems development. Taylor has worked extensively with co-operative businesses and marginalized communities to identify sustainable community economic development strategies that enhance the well-being of the local population. His forthcoming book, “Governing the Wind Energy Commons,” analyzes the community economic differentials of community and investor-owned wind energy, a culmination of three years of research in rural North Dakota and Illinois. Taylor has served in governance capacities for Common Ground Food Cooperative and as chair of the board for Indiana Cooperative Development Center, and We Own It, “the national network for cooperative members' rights, education, and organizing.” He also has experience in public policy, having worked as a legislative aide for former Congressman David Phelps.
Taylor is based at UC Davis and can be reached at email@example.com.
Scott Brayton and Kelly Scott have joined Development Services as major gifts officers, raising philanthropic support and building relationships that serve to advance ANR's programs.
Brayton has been with the UC system for 27 years primarily with UC Davis Athletics as the assistant athletics director responsible for marketing and corporate relations. Most recently he has served as a contract negotiation consultant with UC Davis accounting and financial services. In his roles, Brayton has raised over $25 million in funds for UC Davis programs, facilities and students.
A 2001 graduate of California State University, Chico, Scott has a degree in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing. He has worked in higher education at UC Davis for more than 14 years. He has held previous fundraising positions at UC Davis with the COSMOS program (California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science), the College of Engineering, and the Cal Aggie Alumni Association.
Lorrene D. Ritchie, Nutrition Policy Institute director, received the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation's 34th annual Huddleson Award for the article “School Breakfast Policy Is Associated with Dietary Intake of Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Students” published in the March 2016 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2016;116(3):449-457).
The coauthors for the article include Lauren E. Au, PhD, RD, assistant researcher; Lauren H. Goldstein, PhD, director of operations, Nutrition Policy Institute, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California; Nila J. Rosen, MPH, senior associate, Informing Change, Berkeley, CA; at the time of the study, she was a research associate, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley; Keenan Fenton, MA, biostatistician, Seattle Genetics, Bothell, WA; at the time of the study, he was a research data analyst, Atkins Center for Weight and Health, University of California, Berkeley; and Tia Shimada, MPH, managing director nutrition policy advocate, California Food Policy Advocates, Oakland, CA.
The prestigious Huddleson Award honors a registered dietitian nutritionist who was the lead author of a peer-reviewed article that made an important contribution to the dietetics profession and that was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics during the previous calendar year.
The award, named for Mary Pascoe Huddleson, editor of the Journal from 1927 to 1946, carries a $1,000 honorarium, and the winner is invited to attend the foundation dinner at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.