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December 2009 Archives

Dear Colleagues,

Last fall nearly all Extension employees (96%) completed a system-wide survey designed to map Extension's networks. The information you provided has identified strengths, gaps and opportunities in our relationships across the state. Extension's associate deans and program teams are now using the analysis to better understand the primary relationships within and across Extension centers and program teams and the opportunities to leverage resources and partnerships. 

Extension evaluation specialists have been working in a variety of interesting ways to utilize the results from the Extension Network Study. The results are currently being used to: inform environmental scanning interview questions; create individualized network maps to give staff knowledge of others who are working with the same organizations; create specialized maps around specific teams and issues to see how they are connected within Extension; and prioritize audience focus.

We have been sharing the results of this survey with county commissioners and other partners and they have been very interested in the results as well as the next steps. In addition, the data is being used for our federal reporting and University reporting.

I want to thank Extension's evaluation specialists, Mary Marczak, Scott Chazdon and Tom Bartholomay, for their leadership in creating the survey, performing the data analysis and working with Extension to use this data to inform our program decisions.

Thanks to all of you who participated in this Extension-wide survey. I look forward to hearing about the lessons you learn as you further examine the results.

Bev Durgan

Extension staff and supervisors exploring a flexible work arrangement should review both the Extension and University guidelines.  All flexible work arrangements need to be documented using the University forms.  Completed forms should be submitted to Bobbie Roberts in Extension Human Resources, which will then be routed for appropriate review and approval. Flexible work arrangements for NEAs are documented in a different process that can be found on the HR section of the employee website.

Leslee G. Mason
Human Resources Director

The IRS announced changes in the standard business mileage rates for calendar year 2010. Beginning January 1, the standard business mileage reimbursement rate for personal vehicle use on approved University business decreases from 55 cents to 50 cents per mile. Business mileage incurred in 2009 but reimbursed in 2010 will be reimbursed using the 2009 mileage rate. For more information see the rates section of the University policy, Traveling on University Business.

Dave Werner
Chief Operating Officer

All University of Minnesota employees are invited to attend the University's annual Quality Fair, which will be held on February 4, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the TCF Bank Stadium. The Quality Fair offers an opportunity for University employees to share innovative ideas that inspire and motivate colleagues through a lively poster display session.  Employees are invited to attend all or a portion of the fair. Additional activities include presentations by University and national speakers, mini-sessions on a variety of topics including tools for collaboration and project management, food, prizes and more.

You'll hear and see great ideas from across the University to take back to your department. New this year, you'll also be able to hear about what's happening outside of the University in education, clinics and the state. Registration for this event is required.  For more information visit the event website.

Dave Werner
Chief Operating Officer

In October, the University announced new Social Networking Guidelines that apply to the use of tools like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube, among others, for official University of Minnesota business. Specifically, the U recommends not tying a social networking site to any individual's e-mail address. Given the nature of our work in Extension, distinct value often comes when audiences recognize faculty and staff as members of the University and members of Minnesota communities.

Because many Extension programs may use social networking tools for education and marketing, the U guidelines may need further refinement to address Extension's evolving use of social media.  A small work team has been formed to review the guidelines and develop best practices in social media for Extension. If you have questions or ideas,  please send them to any team member: Sarah Bjorkman, Employee Communications Manager; Julie Christensen, Public Relations and News Media Manager; Allison Jacobsen, Business Applications Manager; and Danny Sussman, Webmaster.

Julie Christensen
Public Relations and News Media Manager

The Center for Rural Design will host a two-day event, the First International Symposium on Rural Design, January 15-16 on the St. Paul campus. The event provides attendees an opportunity to help shape an entirely new field-the emerging discipline of rural design-dedicated to researching and addressing rural issues and improving rural quality of life.

The symposium is free, but registration is required.  More information is available on the
event website.

Stephen Streng
Research Fellow, Center for Rural Design

The winter 2009 edition of the Extension retiree newsletter is available online as a blog. The new blog format follows the same format as Extension enews, making it easier to search for and find past retiree articles and issues. The blog also provides links to the employee newsletter so retirees can stay updated on what is going on in Extension. If you have ideas for articles of interest to retirees, please send them to Gwen Gmeinder.

Gwen Gmeinder
Government Relations Associate

At its 91st annual meeting and awards banquet on November 20, the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation recognized people who have given their time and talents to agriculture. At the event Anna Gilbertson, county 4-H program coordinator in Anoka, was given the Extension Educator of the Year award. 

Dear Colleagues,
The State of Minnesota budget forecast was released this week, showing a major budget deficit anticipated to be more than $1.2 billion for the 2010-11 biennium. Though not a surprise, the latest forecast does show a much deeper state budget challenge than anticipated.
The decisive action that the University and Extension have taken over the last two years in response to these budget challenges have well positioned us to face this extended period of financial difficulty. However, we must continue to work together to find new sources of funding, reduce administrative and overhead costs and make strategic investments that build on our future.
Our organizational decisions have been and will continue to be based on our decision-making principles:

- Extension will continue to program for local, regional and statewide impact.

- Extension is committed to being the "front door" for University resources.

- Extension will maintain and strengthen our partnerships with counties and colleges.

- All Extension funds will be managed as investments for documented outcomes.

- All programs and operations will require increased accountability with clear deliverables and measured outcomes.

I appreciate the effort all of you are making to enhance funding through grants and other sources while reducing costs wherever possible. While the next few years may not be easy, I am confident that our commitment to meeting our mission with fiscal responsibility well positions Extension to remain a strong and vital part of the state and the University. 
Please feel free to submit your questions, comments or ideas on the Extension and the Economy website where you will also find related information and resources.


Bev Durgan

If you are a supervisor, now is the time to direct your staff members to complete their self evaluations for calendar year 2009 and return them to you by January 22 so you can prepare and schedule annual performance evaluations from late January through February.  Completing a performance evaluation for each of your staff members is required by University employment contracts.  After giving the performance evaluation, send the completed form to Extension HR by March 31 for the personnel file. Find the correct performance evaluation form and instructions online. Contact Leslee Mason with additional questions.

Leslee G. Mason
Human Resources Director

All Extension educators, 4-H program directors, county 4-H program coordinators and regional directors must submit their 2010 professional plan of work to their supervisor by December 31. The submission templates are available on the employee website. Please contact your supervisor with questions.

Leslee Mason
Human Resources Director

Materials from many sessions that were offered at the 2009 Extension Program Conference are available online. Slides and/or handouts from eight sessions have been posted. Photos that were taken at the event are also online for viewing. Visit the program conference page on the employee website to access the available conference materials.

Amy Baker
Program Resource Director 

Eating healthy may seem like a tough task. It takes a lot of time and money to ensure daily doses of this and that. But Extension's Operation Frontline Minnesota program argues against that misconception. In chef-led courses, participants are learning how to easily make the healthiest food choices with limited resources. Executive Chef Seth Bixby Daugherty is involved with the initiative and says the culinary lessons are for everyone. For more information, visit Extension's Operation Frontline Minnesota website. Using Chef Daugherty's expertise, University Relations produced an audio clip called "Healthy Eating Boot Camp" for use as a University of Minnesota Moment radio feature

If you have an idea for an audio clip or U of M Moment radio feature, visit the communications section of the employee website for News Media Content Strategy and contact Catherine Dehdashti.

Julie Christensen
Public Relations and News Media Manager

Extension email lists are updated daily with new employees and retirees.  To have the latest Extension address books installed on your computer, you must perform a manual update by following the "Adding and Updating Extension Address books" instructions on the employee website. These instructions are compatible with Outlook 2003 and 2007.

It is recommended that you update your address books at least quarterly to ensure effective communications with Extension employee groups.  If you use the Extension email lists frequently, you may want to consider updating more often.  Contact the Extension IT Help Desk at 612-624-6700 with questions.

Billie Wilson
Information Technology Supervisor

Jessica Jerney joined Extension on November 9 as a 4-H program coordinator in the Urban Youth Development Office, St. Paul.  In her new role she will coordinate programs in Minneapolis and other urban areas.

Jessica holds a Masters degree in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota, and has 10 years of experience working with community-based organizations on youth development, adolescent reproductive health and other social justice issues.  She recently worked with the Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council's Nonprofit Capacity Building Program providing organizational and programmatic development for youth-serving organizations. She hopes to use her professional and educational experience to benefit Extension. Welcome Jessica!

Maki Kawase
Extension Educator, Youth Development

Natalie M. Kvam, nutrition education assistant, Clay County, 11/9/09