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Thoughts to Ponder

Issue 1/16/04

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

Happy New Year . . .

It is hard to believe that I first sat in this chair over 1 year ago today. I must say 2004 has begun much more calmly than it did in 2003. If you remember, I had two state specialists resign within the first 48 hours. Not the start I envisioned, but we have come along way in the last 12 months.

It has been a while since I have written to you, but I have hopefully been in your region and sharing with you personally instead. I do want to share some items today. These are items that people have asked about or items that I think are important for you to know. I don't know that these are in any particular order so let us begin.

Status of Open Positions
As I mentioned above, I began my tenure as Interim Associate Dean with two quick resignations. I set a goal that we would have all positions filled prior to September 1, 2003. Well, as you all know the current fiscal situation has made that resolution impossible to keep. However, we have made some progress. We have been able to open 4 of the 5 vacant nutrition specialist positions. If we could fill these positions, this would leave us with only 4 remaining regional vacancies. We do have an offer pending in one of the four positions and have reopened the other 3 searches.

Regarding campus-based specialists, we froze the two vacant positions in July and have not been able to open those searches as of today. I believe we will re-evaluate these once the UOE budget is re-evaluated this spring. I will keep you posted on our progress.

Along with filling open positions, I believe that we must also work to secure our grant funded individuals both in the regions as well as on campus. I will continue to seek more long-term funding for those who are currently on soft funding. Below you will also see how we have worked to reclassify one of our current faculty members, Tom Berger. All of these efforts are in attempt to increase the capacity of HES programming.

As for my position, Dean Jorgensen announced in the fall that I had agreed to continue serving in the interim role at this time. With the restructuring of Extension administration, I know that Tom Henderson and Dean Jorgensen will be discussing the future of this position and will communicate with all of us. I want you to know that it is an honor to be able to serve in this capacity. I hope that I have served your interests and the interests of HES to the best of my ability. I think we have made some positive impacts and I look forward to continuing to move forward in the coming months.

Tom Berger Named HDFS State Specialist
This fall Terri Cooney, HDFS Department Chair, and I met several times to discuss our need for increased support for HDFS, especially in the adolescence area. As many of you know Tom has been with UOE and HES for about 5 years now. He has been working as a research associate under Lynn Pike in the Center for Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Prevention (CASPP). Tom has a PhD from the University of Kansas. He has also received an MPh from University of Kansas. Prior to studying at Kansas, Tom received his MS and BS from the University of Missouri--Kansas City.

Tom's position will continue to be 100% grant funded at this time. This reclassification will enable us to utilize his skills and expertise in the areas of adolescent risk-taking, pregnancy prevention, and HIV/STD prevention. Tom is leading many of the efforts at CASPP. I would encourage you to work with Tom for your program needs in this area.

Tom has been quite busy this past fall with several new efforts. He has been sought out by several organizations who wish to possibly fund the expansion of our current program efforts. I think this is a tribute to Tom's program leadership and each regional specialist who has demonstrated the positive impact these programs are having on at-risk teens in Missouri.

Tom has just recently met with Dr. Turner to discuss the possibility of leading an international effort with the University of South Africa in Capetown. They wish to begin a large HIV education and prevention program. Tom has been asked to develop a multi-disciplinary team from the UM system, and possibly some of our peer institutions, to initiate this program in South Africa. If you have an interest in this area, please feel free to contact Tom.

I would ask that you join me in welcoming Tom to his new position. I know that he is going to take our program efforts in adolescent risk-taking, pregnancy prevention, and HIV/STD prevention to new heights. Welcome, Tom!

HES On-Line Directory
This item may be an introduction of sort to many of you. I have recently been asked for a listing of research interests of HES resident faculty. This information already exists on the College website. You may link directly to the Faculty and Staff webpage You may also wish to access it through the College's home page Please feel free to search this site. I want each of you to feel like an integral part of the College as well as your department. Take time to get to know more about this great College.

Annual Conference, May 18-20
I hope you are as excited about the upcoming Annual Conference as I am. I think we have an outstanding offering of PIEs. We will also have time for you to share with your colleagues from HES as well as all of UOE. Please return your HES PIE registration by February 15 so we can be making the correct room reservations as well as materials orders.

Celebration of Excellence Awards
Also due February 15 are the First Annual HES Celebration of Excellence Awards. These awards are designed to celebrate and honor the creative programs throughout the state which are positively impacting the lives of Missourians. We must continue to recognize excellence among ourselves. We must also honor those who are going above and beyond to push our program efforts to new heights. I do hope that this will become an on-going event and I will do all in my power to ensure that.

Speaking of Excellence
I want to commend each of you who have presented at national meetings in recent months. This is a tribute to the quality of your program efforts. I will not attempt to name everyone as I will for sure forget someone, but this list is quite extensive. I hope we can continue to showcase our efforts at several of the spring meetings. Below is a list of a few of the meetings I am aware of. I have noted how HES Extension is possibly involved with each of these.

  • Strengthening Families, Youth and Communities: Across the Lifespan-February 22-25
  • EFNEP 35th Anniversary @ Washington, DC-March 1-3 (award nominees, attendees)
  • Board on Human Sciences @ Washington, DC-March 2-4 (attendees)
  • HHS Grant Writing Conference @ Kansas City-March 4 & 5 (attendees)
  • Child & Family Sciences Poster Session & Seminar @ Columbia--March 10 (posters, attendees)
  • Cambrio de Colores @ UMSL-March 10-12 (planning committee, attendees)
  • National FSNEP Meeting/NCR EFNEP & FSNEP Meeting-March 15-18 (planning committee, facilitators, attendees)
  • HES Week @ Columbia-April 4-10 (attendees)
  • Priester Conference @ St. Louis-April 13-16 (planning committee, attendees, presenters)
  • 21st Century Families Conference @ Little Rock, AR-April 20-22 (presenters)
  • UOE Annual Conference @ Columbia-May 18-20 (planning committee, presenters, attendees, award nominees)
  • Crossroads: Critical Issues for Community-Based Research-June 10-12

Regional Meetings
During the fall, I made visits to 7 of the 8 regions to join your HES category meetings. I thank you for allowing me this opportunity. I do hope to finish my 8th visit in the near future. For as long as I am in this role, I would like to see this an on-going process. I believe that a Program Leader should visit each region once a year for a faculty meeting. I have tried to get to other events throughout the state as well, but I do enjoy the time you have the opportunity to share with me your successes as well as your concerns. I am still a firm believer in face-to-face communication. I know that technology is a wonderful invention, but for me, it will never replace being able to sit down with each of you and talk.

In the coming months, I would like to begin scheduling my 2004 visits. Please feel free to contact me if you have your meeting dates already scheduled. My calendar does fill quickly so I like to plan in advance.

Your Comments, Questions, or Concerns Welcome
I want to close by reiterating that my door is always open. I hope that each of you know that I welcome your input. Although we may not always agree or may not be able to make all changes, I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with each of you. I believe open communication will be vitally important as we begin the coming months of transition within Extension.

In Closing,
I know that New Year's resolutions are often broken by the 16th of January, but I want share with you two that I have vowed to keep throughout 2004. First, I am resolved to keeping a positive outlook on the future. We are so blessed in HES Extension. We are rich in heritage, faculty, and program strength. It is hard not to be optimistic when you read messages which tell of how lives are transformed each day by Extension program efforts.

Second, I am resolved to move HES Extension into the national forefront. As I have traveled these past twelve months, I can tell you that Missouri is doing work that is equal, if not more impressive, than our peers. You have much to be proud of. We must seize the opportunities that lie before us to share with our national, and international, counterparts the impact our programs are having. We need to make it known how wonderful each of you are within your field of expertise. I hope that I can facilitate this process and help you gain the recognition that each of you so warmly deserve.

Again I would say to each of you "Thank You" for this opportunity to serve as your Program Leader. This past year has been a great experience for me. I do hope we have been able to facilitate change. I hope we have opened the lines of communication and will continue to build on both our internal and external partnerships.

Have a great weekend. I wish you all the best.




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Last updated: 12/02/15