News for employees, May 15, 2008

Ouart looks to move MU Extension into top 5

MU Extension can be among the top extension services in the nation, Michael Ouart, MU vice provost for extension and director, told campus faculty and staff members, May 5.

“I really think, and I think you do too, that we already are one of the top extension programs in this county,” Ouart said. “I think our goal ought to be in the top five or six extension programs in the nation.”

MU Vice Provost Michael Ouart discusses benchmarks for being a leader among nation's extension services with MU campus faculty and staff, May 5. Michael Hicks photo/Cooperative Media Group MU Vice Provost Michael Ouart discusses benchmarks for being a leader among nation's extension services with MU campus faculty and staff, May 5. Michael Hicks photo/Cooperative Media Group.

The goal and benchmarks are part the message that Ouart has been sharing with MU Extension faculty and staff across the state. At the campus meeting, some 130 campus extension employees listened as Ouart set the stage for questions, which centered on issues related to the budget.

Consistently increasing revenues are the key to becoming a leading extension program, he said, estimating it would take a minimum increase of 5 percent per year.

“We have to figure out a way to keep the nose up on the budget,” he said. “In some years, we’ll have to rely more on revenue generation ― contracts, grants, fees and gifts. That’s just a reality.”

Ouart reiterated the need for multiple revenue streams, along with providing guidelines and incentives, so the system is fair.

“At the same time, we’re not going to give up on the appropriated side,” he said. “County budgets have been growing 2 to 3 percent per year.

“State money has been edging up, keeping up with inflation. At least we’re not seeing the cuts you had in 2002 and ‘03.”

The new Farm Bill could improve federal extension funding, which has been flat for many years, but Ouart said he was not expecting any action until after the November elections.

Asked about Compete Missouri, Chancellor Deaton’s initiative to raise faculty salaries, Ouart said MU Extension has not lost positions.

“Our plan focused mostly on explaining to administration—and I think they mostly already knew—that we have given at the office,” Ouart said. “I think we did a fair job of convincing them because instead of them telling us how many FTEs we had to give up, we got a dollar value ― $300,000—that we’re turning back in.

“We’ve managed to operate without that $300,000. We’re going to try to keep the faculty we’ve got and keep those positions filled.”

Addressing salaries, Ouart reminded the audience of the key messages he heard during the spring 2007 visioning tour: “We don’t have enough people” and “the people we have aren’t paid enough.”

He noted the steps that have been taken to reward people who are doing outstanding work and pledged to continue those efforts. “The No.1 thing is to hold our own and then grow the organization.”

Compared to extension salaries at other North Central Region universities, Missouri ranks 12th out of 12 for state faculty and 10th for regional faculty. Ouart said those figures were “not pretty,” but he was optimistic that the salary rankings would improve slightly when the next comparisons are available.

“The goal is to get us in the mid-range, and the way to do that is to grow the budget,” Ouart said, with another reference to revenue generation.

Ouart also acknowledged that striving for the mid-range of North Central salaries while seeking to be among the top extension services might seem at odds:

“The reason I say that is …just look at you. You’re the most dedicated, innovative folks, and most of the people in this room represent the people who are 12 out 12, state specialists, and yet you’re still a top extension program.”


MU holds first online graduation

MU is holding its first online commencement to honor nearly 200 distance-education students completing their undergraduate, graduate and education specialist degrees online.

The virtual graduation ceremony includes remarks from MU Provost Brian Foster, MU Alumni Association President Titus Blackmon and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards of Columbia.

NASCAR driver Carl Edwards of Columbia records his message to MU's online-degree graduates. Steve Morse photo/Cooperative Media Group NASCAR driver Carl Edwards of Columbia records his message to MU's online-degree graduates. Steve Morse photo/Cooperative Media Group

“It is truly an honor to address those of you who have completed your degrees in a nontraditional fashion,” Foster said in his address. “You didn't let the barriers of time or distance keep you from achieving your goal; you found a way to make your education a reality.”

MU joins only a handful of universities that host virtual commencements. Nearly a third of MU’s master’s students complete their graduate degrees online. Courses are provided through MU Direct: Continuing and Distance Education and the Center for Distance and Independent Study.

“We want to do our part in helping them build that same sense of pride in their new alma mater as the tens of thousands of MU alumni who have come before them,” said Linda Cupp, director of MU Direct.

Through MU Extension, students can complete the requirements for 40 degree programs, including education, nursing, personal finance, health administration and informatics, and journalism.

Those involved in planning the online ceremony include Lesley McKinnon, Stacy Snow and Dolores Shearon from MU Extension Marketing; Sandy Gummersheimer, Allida Branton, Debbie Betz and Cupp from MU Direct; James Meng from ETCS; Michael Hicks, Rob Mize and Frank Fillo from the Cooperative Media Group; and Valerie Goodin from the Mizzou Alumni Association.


Extension volunteers, staff visit with federal legislators

A delegation of 14 University of Missouri Extension volunteers and staff visited with senators, representatives and congressional staff as part of the Public Issues Leadership Development Conference, April 28-30, in Washington, D.C.

The PILD Conference promotes leadership, communication and cooperation among extension professionals in public issues education. The Joint Council of Extension Professionals, a partnership of professional extension organizations, sponsors the annual conference.

Ronda Elfrink, University  of Missouri Extension State Council  member, visits with Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, April 30, in Washington, D.C. Ronda Elfrink, University of Missouri Extension State Council member, visits with Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, April 30, in Washington, D.C.

“I came away energized and motivated to make greater efforts to more effectively communicate extension's programs with our elected officials on the local, state and federal level,” said Lynda Johnson, WC nutrition and health specialist.

The visit to Capitol Hill is an annual conference feature. Delegates ― including volunteers Ronda Elfrink, MU Extension State Council member and longtime Bollinger County 4-H leader, and Dennis Grisham, Springfield Community Bank president and Southwest Region Extension Council member ― explained MU Extension’s value to the lives of citizens and to the state’s economy.

The Missouri group visited the offices of Sens. Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill, and Reps. Ike Skelton, Russ Carnahan, Kenny Hulshof, Roy Blunt, Sam Graves, Emanuel Cleaver and Jo Ann Emerson.

Participants also learned about the status of FY09 appropriations, policy challenges of socioeconomic changes, increasing extension’s local presence, marketing to decision makers and measuring excellence.

Other members of the Missouri delegation included Marsha Alexander, WC housing and environmental design specialist; Matt Herring, EC agronomy/natural resource specialist; Meg Sage Mach, WC 4-H youth specialist; Virgil Woolridge, CM business development specialist;
Barb Casady, development director; Tony DeLong, county council coordinator; Dave Baker, ag and natural resources program director; Sandy Stegall, constituent relations coordinator; and Sarah Martin, federal relations director for the university.


Catalyst Team receives campus diversity award

MU Extension again received recognition for its work to promote diversity. During the MizzouDiversity Summit, May 4 and 5, extension’s Diversity Catalyst Team was honored with one of the 2008 Mizzou Inclusive Excellence Awards.

The award is presented to individuals or groups that make exemplary contributions to diversifying the MU community. The catalyst team, a joint effort between MU and Lincoln University, was recognized for its “outstanding contributions to inclusive excellence at the University of Missouri over a prolonged period of time.”

The catalyst team’s work in developing and implementing the Strategic Plan for Diversity, systems approach to work force and programmatic diversity, was cited in the award.

In 2005, the extension programs at Mizzou and Lincoln adopted a Strategic Plan for Diversity. In addition to creating a list of core values, the plan outlines objectives, performance indicators, action steps and measures for diversifying the work force, creating a positive work climate, making programs and services accessible, expanding extension audiences, improving cultural competency among the work force, and recognizing individual and organizational accomplishments.

Since that time catalyst team members have been implementing the plan’s recommended actions. One example is civil rights training being held in each region to assure faculty and staff understand those obligations.

To improve workplace climate, the catalyst team fostered the development of regional climate teams.

As part of the program planning process, the catalyst team has held diversity discussions with citizens, which revealed that underserved audiences were unaware of extension program opportunities.

Team members recognized are Yvonne Matthews, Lincoln University family development and resource management specialist; Julie Middleton, organizational development director; Tony DeLong, county council coordinator; Katy Fields, Alianzas coordinator; Vivian Mason, Mexico TCRC coordinator; Karma Metzar, NW Region director; Dennis Minzes, WC community development specialist; Amie Schleicher, NW livestock specialist; Janice Perkins; Michael Ouart, MU vice provost and director; and Steve Meredith, Lincoln University 1890 administrator.


Shannon receives the Excellence in Education Award

Marcia Shannon Marcia Shannon

Marcia Shannon, state extension livestock specialist, recently received the Excellence in Education Award from the MU Division of Student Affairs.

Shannon was nominated by colleague Carol Lorenzen for her work with the Mizzou Block and Bridle Club. As a club advisor, Shannon provides leadership opportunities and professional fellowship for the 100-plus undergraduate members.

“Dr. Shannon guides the students but allows them to grow as individuals and this includes making mistakes,” Lorenzen said.

Until 2007 Shannon was the only female faculty member in animal sciences, making her a role model for female students, who comprise more than half the division’s undergraduates. She has served as a student advisor since 2005.

Shannon also serves as faculty advisor for CAFNR Week and a judge for the John Brown and Dickinson Scholars programs.

What makes Shannon unique is that she has no formal teaching role. Her appointment is in research and extension.


Campbell recognized for supporting entrepreneurship

Amy McCampbell received 2008 AmeriCorps*VISTA Service Award for her outstanding work supporting entrepreneurship in Chariton County. McCampbell was recognized by the Missouri Community Service Commission.

McCampbell has been with the MU Extension Youth Enterprisers project since August 2006.

Passive injuries

Many people sit at a desk working on a computer as part of their jobs. You might believe that this passive activity does not put you at great risk for a workplace injury. However, typing, using a mouse and sitting in one position actually causes strain in the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, repetitive strain causes more days away from work than any other injury. Listen to how you can ease the strain.

The goods
on grocery savings

 MU Extension faculty member Cynthia Fauser offers money-saving shopping advice.USDA forecasts that consumers will see grocery bills go up by 4 percent to 5 percent this year. A dozen large eggs is up 35 percent from a year ago, while milk is up 13 percent and a loaf of white bread is up 16 percent. Watch as MU Extension faculty Cynthia Fauser and Ellen Schuster offer money-saving shopping advice.

Breimyer seminar to explore manure entrepreneurship

Opportunities for turning manure into sources of revenue will be the focus of the 2008 Breimyer Seminar, “Manure Entrepreneurs: Turning Brown to Green,” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 22, at MU.  The seminar will honor the memory of Charlie Fulhage, who was a manure expert at MU and early proponent of methane from manure.

Registration, which is $25 and includes lunch and parking, is due May 16. To register, contact Joyce White, MU ag economics.

Web site answers CPDs’ questions

New resources to help county program directors in their supervisory role with county secretaries are available on the county extension council Web site.

 “This is an area of responsibility that CPDs typically call our office for advice and guidance,” said Melinda Adams, extension HR manager.

Recommendations for additional resources can be sent to Adams.

UM biweekly payroll
to go online

Within the next year, the University is expected to implement an online time-keeping system that will automate biweekly payroll. Most hourly paid employees at the University will use this automated system rather than a timesheet to record their hours.

“The added benefit to this new system is that supervisors will be able to review and approve timesheets online, reducing the delay with long-distance supervision,” said Diane Dews, extension payroll manager. “In addition, the system will automatically generate payroll, eliminating duplication of efforts and improving accuracy overall.

“While we don’t have final details yet, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me,” Dews said.

ESP tackles workplace at Galaxy III

“Leading Change for a Healthy Organization” is the topic of the Galaxy III pre-conference workshop, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 15.

Participants will be exposed to an integrative model for a total rewards strategy that serves as a 21st-century roadmap for leaders responsible for attracting, retaining and motivating a work force in today’s environment. Registered participants will complete a brief survey to help set the stage for an effective learning experience and more closely tailor the presentation to their needs. 

Participation is limited. Registration is due Aug. 1.  For more information, visit ESP National or contact Missouri ESP Chapter President Bev Maltsberger.

Galaxy III, which will be held in Indianapolis, is designed for extension educators across disciplines, including county and regional directors, human resource and professional development personnel, and administrators.

Become fluent in PowerPoint 2007; ITV training set for May 20

If you’re struggling to find your favorite PowerPoint features in the 2007 version, tune into the next ITV computer training, May 27.

Meridith Berry, NW information technology specialist, will help you become fluent in the Office 2007 interface, which replaced the menus, toolbars and most task panes of previous versions. She will walk you through the new look and show you new tools as you create a presentation.

The session runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call one of the following locations to register:

•Mexico, 573-581-4874
•Portageville, 573-379-5609
•Poplar Bluff, 573-840-9450
•Salem, 573-729-8163
•Jefferson City, 573-638-9646
•Kirksville, 660-785-2533
•Park Hills, 573-518-2324 Reeds Spring, 417-272-8707
•Nevada, 417-448-1212
•St. Joseph/Albany, 816-279-1691

You must register by May 20. To avoid a $10 fee, cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance.


Condolences are extended to Tish Johnson, EC community development specialist, on the death of her mother, Nona Johnson.

Condolences also are extended to Paul Rainsberger, labor education director, on the May 5 death of his mother-in-law, Mary Jane Koenig.

MU Extension Insider is published on the 1st and 15th of each month for MU Extension faculty and staff. Send comments to Editor, Eileen Yager.