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Thoughts to Ponder

Issue 9/2/05

Jo Britt-Rankin, M.S., Ph.D., Associate Dean, University of Missouri Extension

Well, it is time to begin the holiday weekend. It is a beautiful sunny day in Columbia and I hope it is where you are too. I wanted to share with you some updates before I leave for the holiday weekend.

Thinking of Those in a Time of Need
As you have seen many of our colleagues in the SE have been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Many are in need of so many things we take for granted--food, water, shelter, and safety. I want to thank those of you who have sought to provide assistance. I know many Extension faculty were supported by our colleagues in various states during the flood of 93. Now, you have extended your hand. I know there will be more opportunities as the weeks progress. We will continue to alert you of how you can best respond to those during their time of need.

We often do not celebrate our successes or our milestones enough. I was reminded yesterday that we had an anniversary in Extension. Ellen Schuster joined us 1 year and 1 day ago today!! I know that many of you have long since passed that milestone, but we should celebrate more. I want you to know that I value each of you for the efforts you give to the organization. You extend your all to serve the clientele. So whether you have been here 1 day, 1 month, 1 year, or 25 years, I celebrate your milestones and thank you for all that you do.

Plan of Work Process
Many faculty have asked if there will be a time for them to provide input on the next POW. Yes, you will have an opportunity at Annual Conference. During the time slated for departmental updates, I have asked state specialists to allow me to convene all of our HES faculty to capture your views on what our needs are within each department/school within HES. We will be using a process similar to what you have been doing with your county councils, only we will be focused on specific areas within HES. This data will be entered into the database with the county data and analyzed in November.

I also want to share with each of you how all of the data will be analyzed. As you know, each county council, regional council, and any other source data will be entered via the web into a database. That information will then be made available to the Program Directors in November. I have asked a group of 8 regional specialists (1 per region/2 per discipline) to join with the campus faculty and myself on November 28-29 to analyze the data. I am in hopes that this group can provide me a summary of the data so that I can clearly articulate the state needs in my report which is due to Extension Administration by December 15. these reports will then be made available on the web by January 1.

As you can see, we are working on a very tight timeline and it will take great effort on everyone's part to ensure that we meet our deadlines. I want to thank those eight regional specialists and their regional directors for agreeing to participate in this process.

HES Extension Faculty Update 2006
I received your input for dates for our spring meeting. I must tell you it was very close between Feb, Mar, and April. But after meeting with Dean Jorgensen and the department chairs, I have made a decision for which dates we will meet. I apologize because it is slightly different from first posted, but we will host our 2006 HES Extension Faculty Update on April 10-12. We will begin mid-day Monday and adjourn mid-day Wednesday. I do understand that Passover begins at sundown on Wednesday, but we will be adjourn in time for those who must travel home. These dates were selected so that each of you can participate in HES Week here on campus. I felt that it is important for all faculty to have the opportunity to participate in the activities, such as the honors luncheon and the Mangel Lecture. As more information is available, I will forward it to you. As for now, please mark your calendars for April 10-12.

Patience in Trying Times
I want each of you to know that I struggle to ensure that we have adequate resources to provide high quality, research based educational programming. I know that our current merit system is not what we desire. Many of you would desire a more marketable wage. And these are trying times. I want each of you to know that I appreciate your patience as we work to increase secure, long term funding options. It is my goal to see that we have adequately paid, high quality faculty who have adequate funds for professional growth as well as cutting edge resources to be effective in their respective fields. We may not resolve this issue overnight, but know that we are working toward a common goal. Please have patience as we work together.

From Reactive to Proactive
In my personal performance evaluation, I took much time to talk with Dr. Henderson and Dean Jorgensen about my desire to be more proactive than reactive. I feel that there are many opportunities available for HES Extension but we have to position ourselves to be more proactive. I feel that we must look within our structure to determine how best to utilize my position to be forward thinking and proactive with funders, state agencies, and donors. I have attempted to do so, but given our current structure any proactive efforts result in neglecting some day-to-day activities that also must be tended. As many of you know, there have been times when my email gets delayed. I apologize to those of you who have not received a rapid response, but when I receive approx. 150 emails per day, missing just one day can really delay response time.

After much discussion, Dr. Henderson, Dean Jorgensen, and I have agreed that we should restructure in an attempt to be more proactive. My goal is to better serve the faculty, the funders, and the citizens of the state. To do so, we feel that it is time to appoint an Assistant HES Program Director. This position will be a 50% appointment, so the candidate will remain in their department as a State Specialist on a half-time basis. It is my hope that we will backfill the 50% appointment so no service is lost in the program area. The Assistant Director will work closely with me on such issues as Human Resources, Professional Development and External Relations. It is also my hope that this position and myself will be able to travel to more regional functions throughout the year.

This position will be similar to positions in CAFNR and 4-H. Also similar to positions at other institutions. I feel that we must position ourselves to be proactive. We currently receive over $8 million annually in external funds. The potential is to receive even more, but only if we are strategic. I will be seeking interested applicants beginning Tuesday. When Dr. Henderson, Dean Jorgensen, and I have made a final selection, I will make the announcement and share more about how this new position will function within HES.

Have a Safe Holiday
Well, it is now past the witching hour and it is very quiet in Gwynn Hall. As it is time that I too call it an evening, let me wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend. Be safe in your journeys. Take time to think about those who are less fortunate. And thank you again for all you do for the University of Missouri.




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Last updated: 12/02/15