Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a chance to rest and enjoy time with family and friends over the holidays.
With the new year comes new opportunities and new challenges. While the budget situation will continue to require our attention in 2009, I want to begin the year reminding all of us that the most important thing we can focus on is developing and delivering educational programs that have an impact on the issues Minnesotans care about. Already this week, I have had some interesting conversations with another dean about opportunities to work together on programming that impacts shared audiences. I hope that all of you continue to find the strategic opportunities to bring in new sources of revenue, new partnerships and greater impacts for the audiences you serve.
While I will continue to encourage you to keep your attention on Extension programs and their impacts, I am also committed to keeping you informed about the budget issues. Today I held the first of what will be regular UMConnect meetings with the Extension Leadership Council (Extension deans, program leaders and regional directors.) My goal is to keep these Extension leaders well informed and engaged in any planning that we will need to do in the coming year. In addition, I will also host a Budget Update section on the employee website that will provide updates, address questions and house past budget-related messages and presentations. You will be able to submit questions, concerns and ideas that I and the other Extension deans will respond to on the website. Watch for the introduction of this site by the end of January.