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Dear Colleagues,

In October, the University conducted the second annual employee engagement survey. Overall, 64 percent of University faculty and staff participated; Extension's response rate was 80 percent!

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to complete the employee engagement survey. We expect to receive the results in early 2015.

Last year was the first time the University conducted the survey, which is designed to measure drivers of engagement based on two key outcomes: commitment and dedication, which relate to individual motivation; and effective environment, which captures factors within a work group that support success.

Colleges and units were asked to review the results of the survey and identify specific actions that that would continue to create a workplace in which people thrive. During the summer, Extension leadership, centers and units met with their respective teams to review results and identify one to two actions that would make a positive difference. The results of those discussions were summarized in an Employee Engagement Survey Report that is available on the intranet.

Thank you again for your participation in the 2014 survey. I look forward to sharing the results with you.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this week, Brent Hales, former associate dean for community vitality, began in his new role as senior associate dean. I am pleased to announce that Matt Kane, program leader for community economics, and Mary Ann Hennen, program leader for leadership and civic engagement, have agreed to serve as interim leaders for the Extension Center for Community Vitality. Extension will be conducting a national search for the associate dean in the new year.

Please join me in thanking Mary Ann and Matt for accepting this additional leadership responsibility and in welcoming Brent to his new role.

I wish you a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday next week!

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

In my July 3 enews column, I provided an update on our FY 2014-15 budget and announced that the dean's leadership team would meet in September to review and discuss priority and new position requests.

Following our September meeting, I have approved the following positions:

Extension Center for Community Vitality

  • Engagement specialist faculty position with Humphrey Institute

Extension Center for Family Development

  • 3/4-time position for the Padres Informados, one-year position

Extension Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

  • Dairy/Livestock business management educator, ag business management
  • Risk management educator, ag business management
  • Aquatic invasive species educator
  • Livestock educator
  • Funding for CFANS grape/oenology position and poultry position

Extension Center for Youth Development

  • Two community program specialist positions working with northern Minnesota tribes

Extension Regional Sustainable development Partnerships

  • Research fellow/CERTs behavior change and metrics coordinator, half-time position for one year

In May, I also approved several priority and new positions for all of the Extension centers except the Center for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR). I delayed filling several key positions in AFNR until the arrival of the new dean for the College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. We have now had a chance to discuss priorities with Dean Brian Buhr and have identified areas for collaboration and mutual engagement. Because of this, some of the AFNR positions requested in May have been approved this fall.

Each center will manage the timeline and search process for each of these positions. Please join me in welcoming the new staff as they join us this fall and winter.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear colleagues,

In Fall 2013, the University conducted an employee engagement survey. The results were made available in the first quarter of 2014. At that time, colleges and units were asked to review the results of the survey and identify actions that will continue to create a workplace in which people thrive.

Specifically, colleges and units were asked to:

  • Look for areas with greatest impact
  • Build on existing efforts where possible
  • Support gradual change, as it is more sustainable

In May, I held a webinar to share Extension's results with all employees. During the summer, Extension leadership, centers and units met with their respective teams to review results and identify one to two actions that would make a positive difference. The results of those discussions have been summarized in an Employee Engagement Survey Reportthat is available on the intranet.

Thank you for your participation in the 2013 survey. I look forward to using the results to continue to guide our investment in making Extension a vital and engaged workplace. I also ask that you take time to complete the survey when it is offered again in late 2014.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the recipients of the Extension Issue Area Grants. Earlier this summer, Extension put out a call for proposals that would advance work in the following issue areas:

  • Promoting Youth Educational Success

  • Food Systems

The issue area grants have been created to support cross-disciplinary work, increase external visibility and demonstrate Extension's comparative advantage to address these complex  issues. Successful projects will create positive impact and contribute to Extension's cross-center collaboration and external partnerships.

Grants have been awarded for the following projects:

Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners: Growing environments to foster learning and academic success
Project leaders: Judy Myers and Sara Langworthy, both from the Extension Children, Youth and Family Consortium

Save Native Pollinators, Secure Food Production and Safeguard Our Environment: A science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) integrated youth program
Project leaders: Hui-Hui Wang, Extension 4-H STEM specialist; and Patrick Jirik, Extension educator in youth development

The Fresh Connect Learning Laboratory: Leveraging Extension and community expertise to support emerging food hubs in Greater Minnesota
Project Leaders: Noelle Harden, Extension educator in health and nutrition; and Dana Rieth registered dietician, Lakes Country Service Cooperative

Economic Impact and Enterprise Benchmarking of Market Gardens & Farms in an Eight-county Region of Central Minnesota
Projects leaders: Ryan Pesch and Merritt Bussiere, Extension educators in community vitality; and Brigid Tuck, Extension senior economic impact analyst

Thank you to all who submitted proposals and the proposal review team.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dean's Column (September 4, 2014)

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Dear colleagues,

It is important that Extension take time each year to honor our outstanding employees. Extension's awards are an important way to acknowledge the high-quality staff and impactful programs happening throughout the year.

Once again, Extension will be honoring employees with the Distinguished Dean's Awards this fall during the October program conference. These awards include: Field-based Faculty Award, Campus-based Faculty Award, Diversity and Inclusion Award, Team Award, and Outstanding Leadership Award. In addition to the recognition and plaques, individual award winners will receive a $1,500 stipend; teams will receive a $1,500 stipend for the program budget.

I am asking program leaders, associate deans and department heads to submit the nominations for these awards, and I would like to encourage all employees to take a moment to review the award information and guidelines and share your nomination ideas with the relevant program leader, department head or associate dean. The nomination deadline is September 15.

Please note that there is a new online nomination submission process. If you have any questions about the new online feature, contact Shelly Tschida.

I look forward to seeing this year's nominations and announcing the winners at the fall program conference.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dean's Column (August 21, 2014)

Dear colleagues,

Extension's academic promotion process was established in 2006 to support and recognize educators for their achievement in six categories: scholarship, education and teaching, program leadership, engagement, program management, and service.

Promotion is a professional indicator of personal and organizational success. Extension'spromotion process reinforces the importance of Extension's education model and our responsibility to develop and deliver effective research-based educational programming.

Please join me in congratulating the 13 Extension staff who recently completed the process to achieve the following:

  • Promoted from assistant Extension educator to associate Extension educator:Randy Nelson and Jill Sackett

  • Promoted from associate Extension educator to Extension educator: Jerold Tesmer

  • Promoted from assistant Extension professor to associate Extension professor:Katherine BrandtJose HernandezCharles Robert HolcombNicole PokorneyJessica RussoKate WalkerJulie Weisenhorn and Kari Robideau

  • Promoted from associate Extension professor to full Extension professor:Angela Gupta

  • Reconfirmed rank of Extension professor: James Salfer

I want to thank all of those involved in this year's academic review process--the applicants, supervisors, review committee members, peer reviewers, mentors, program team members and administrative staff.

The application process for the 2015 promotion cycle has begun. All eligible employees have been notified and the deadline for letters of intent was earlier this week.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

This week, I have been at Farmfest near Redwood Falls. It's an annual event in Minnesota that provides an opportunity for the University and Extension to connect with our agricultural partners. This year, we also had a chance to meet and hear from gubernatorial candidates, as well as state and federal legislative candidates, about Minnesota agriculture.

Today, we are honoring Minnesota farm families at the annual Farm Family ceremony. The University of Minnesota began the tradition of honoring farm families in 1980. Since then, farm families from across the state have been recognized annually for their contributions to agriculture, the economy and rural communities.

The farm families are chosen by local Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture. Those receiving this year's honors exemplify what makes Minnesota agriculture strong, which keeps Minnesota strong.

Farm families improve the fabric--and the future outlook--of rural communities. They invest time in serving on township boards, hospital boards, school boards and church councils. They volunteer to help families in need, and to assure the positive development of young people through 4-H and other youth organizations.

All of this is on top of what they do to provide food, fuel and a multitude of other agricultural products to the rest of Minnesota, the nation and the world. You can see the diversity of their agricultural achievements in the 72 families honored.

I am proud to honor the University of Minnesota Farm Families of the Year at Farmfest in Redwood Falls. I hope you will join me in congratulating these deserving farm families.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

We have begun the national search for Extension's senior associate dean and I invite you to assist in recruiting candidates for this important position. The position description and announcement is posted on the Human Resources website.

We have taken the last several months, since the departure of Senior Associate Dean Dick Senese, to review the position and consider various alternatives. The newly posted position will merge key responsibilities from two senior level positions, senior associate dean and chief financial officer.

A search committee representing the various internal groups within Extension, including the Extension Faculty Consultative Committee and Extension Staff Consultative Committee, has met and is now working on recruitment. Members are: Ben Anderson, Trina Adler Barno, Denise Trudeau Poskas, Ying Iverson, Krishona Martinson, Matt Kane, Brian McNeill, Megan Thorson, Lissa Pawlisch, Tom Rothman and chair David Werner.

We hope to conduct interviews in mid-October. Information about those interviews will be shared in future issues of enews.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

This week we closed the books on fiscal year 2014 and began fiscal year 2015. So, I thought this would be a good time to give you a budget update. 
 
As we look to the new fiscal year, we anticipate a steady budget with slight increases in federal and county funding. Extension's funding comes from numerous sources: State 40%; Grants, Gifts and Program Income 26%; County Government 20% and Federal 14%.

  • Extension's state allocation (O & M funds and State Special) is nearly unchanged, down less than 1% with a final allocation of just over $27 million.
  • Our county partners remain strong supporters of Extension and our calendar year commitments show a 2.35% increase in funding, topping $14 million.  
  • Our grants, gifts and program income funds appear to remain strong, especially with the return of SNAP-Ed funding.  
  • The best news this year may come from our federal partners with an increase in Smith-Lever funding of 9.2%, bringing our federal formula funding to just under $10.5 million.

While I am pleased with this budget projection, it is also important to note that we must always be prepared for reductions during the year. Looking back at 2009 through 2013, Extension had a reduction in at least one funding source in each of these years. For example, in 2013 we experienced a major reduction in our federal Smith Lever funds and SNAP-Ed grant funding. In 2012, Extension internally funded a 2.5% salary increase, and in 2011, 2010 and 2009 Extension experienced 5.0%, 6.2% and 5.8% in state reductions, respectively.
 
During this year's budget process, we approved a number of new positions. The associate deans have been notified of those positions which will be posted in the coming months. The dean's leadership team will meet in September to review and discuss priority and new position requests.
 
I want to thank all of the staff in finance and accounting who have worked so tirelessly to complete another fiscal year.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Every day, Extension's education and research is supported by our friends who give of their time and money to ensure that we continue to make a difference in Minnesota and the world. This last month has definitely highlighted that for me. 

Sunday night, KARE-11 featured a beautiful and moving story of Curt Chergosky's generous gift worth over $4 million to 4-H. His gift supports 4-H programs statewide and in southwestern Minnesota, as well as a scholarship in memory of his late fiancée, 4-H program coordinator Andrea Ruesch. If you have not already shed a tear over this story, please take a few minutes to watch what KARE-11 called a gift for the ages.

On May 21, there was laughter and tears as we celebrated another generous gift in honor of former regent, county commissioner and mayor, Mary Page. Her family chose to honor her memory in a way that was as action-oriented as she was. They created the Mary J. Page Community-University Partnerships Fund to support community-driven projects through the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.

And, each summer I get an opportunity to laugh and share stories with our Extension retirees. Last week, more than 25 retirees met in Detroit Lakes for our annual luncheon. We will hold another luncheon for retirees in the Twin Cities in July.

While I was "up north" I also had an opportunity to meet with three donors to thank them for their financial commitments to our programs and discuss future gifts to Extension. I look forward to announcing more gifts as our friends continue to learn of the many ways they can support the issues, impacts and communities they are passionate about. 

I encourage you to work with our development professionals, Jane Johnson, Cara Miller and Brad Starbuck as you consider opportunities for your programs. Please check out Extension's giving website if you would like to support any of these funds. 

Bev Durgan 
Dean 

Dear colleagues,

As a part of the 2014 centennial celebration of the Smith-Lever Act, which created the national system for Extension, thirteen states are engaging in a project called "Extension Reconsidered," designed to create community discussions about the next 100 years of Extension.

University of Minnesota Extension, in partnership with colleagues from Design Thinking at the College of Design will develop and facilitate a series of meaningful and creative discussions for our state's Extension Reconsidered using Design Thinking. Minnesota's Extension Reconsidered team plans on hosting four conversations and an event: May 21 - Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) statewide meeting; July 30-31 - Rural Design Conference "Thriving by Design II" (Crookston); August 27 - Extension Citizen Advisory Committee conversation (Twin Cities); and October 6-7 - Extension Fall Conference (Bloomington).  

The first conversation in May resulted in energetic discussions that envisioned a vibrant future for Extension. Participants discussed how to ensure Extension remains resilient, innovative and agile, how it could partner beyond the University, how it could address climate change-related issues, changing demographics and technological innovation, and how it might strengthen individual self-reliance through skill building.

The planning team will provide summary reports of the discussions. Watch for more information on the reports and how you can engage in these discussions. The planning committee is: Cathy Jordan, director; Andrew Furco, associate vice president for public engagement; Neil Linscheid, Extension educator; Sherry Boyce, Extension educator; Emily Krekelberg, Extension educator; Michele Anderson, rural program director, Springboard for the Arts; Houa Vue, Minnesota Department of Human Services; Jeff Gorfine, Rochester Public Schools; Kathy Draeger, director, RSDP; Dan Gilchrist, assistant program director, RSDP; Okey Ukaga, executive director, NE RSDP; Virajita Singh, senior research fellow/ adjunct assistant professor, Design Thinking, College of Design; and Kamana Dhakhwa, research fellow, Design Thinking, College of Design.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Please join me on Wednesday, May 21 to learn more about the results of the Employee Engagement Survey and to discuss action steps. I will host a webinar from 2-3 pm that can be accessed through UMConnect.  If you are on campus, please feel free to join us in Room 401 Coffey Hall.

The topic of employee engagement is important to the University and Extension. Actively engaged employees create results that make a difference. Throughout the state, Extension employees interact with our customers, program participants and partners, reflecting the quality and impact of our education and research at every point of interaction. This gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we already do that enhances engagement and what we can do to improve it.

During the past week, I had the honor of recognizing a few of our engaged employees during the 2014 Extension Staff Conferences. This year the conference was offered in two locations, May 6 in Bemidji and May 14 in Mankato, with 180 staff attending one of the two locations.

It is always a pleasure to recognize our distinguished colleagues at the annual conferences. This year the following Extension colleagues received the distinguished dean's awards:

Nutrition Educator Award: Betty Wistrom, nutrition educator, St. Louis county
Campus Staff Award: Deb Page, Human Resources, St. Paul
Field Staff Award: Sharon Leopold, Worthington Regional Office
Program Staff Award: Lorelei Finley, Pine County 4-H program coordinator

Please join me in congratulating our colleagues.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, the federal act that established the Cooperative Extension Service, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and land-grant universities to extend research-based knowledge through outreach education. University of Minnesota was ahead of the curve, establishing Extension in 1909, five years before the 1914 federal act which established a state-by-state national network to improve the lives of families, youth, farmers, communities and businesses. There will be several celebrations in Washington DC next week.

We had an opportunity to celebrate this week in Minnesota with Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Dr. Ramaswamy was in Minnesota to speak at an international conference on food and science. He then spent two days learning more about University of Minnesota research, education and Extension. Extension faculty and staff in northeast Minnesota hosted him at the Cloquet Forestry Center yesterday. Dr. Ramaswamy and I were both very impressed in hearing about the research and extension programs that are making a significant difference in Minnesota and the world.

This week we also launched a new video about Extension in Minnesota as we celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act. Extending knowledge, changing lives is about 3 minutes, making it quick and easy to share with our partners, donors and other stakeholders. More information about the Smith-Lever anniversary is available on the Cooperative Extension website.

In addition, you can join in the celebrations through social media, which is a key part of the national awareness campaign. Extension staff who administer social media accounts can participate by attaching the hashtag #Ext100Years to tweets and Facebook entries throughout 2014. The hashtag is particularly relevant when highlighting your research, programming and educational events...anything that demonstrates the value of Extension. On May 8 only, be sure to attach #CE100 to your tweets. For questions, contact Allison Sandve.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Last fall, the University conducted an employee engagement survey. Overall, 57 percent of University faculty and staff participated; Extension's response rate was 76 percent!

The survey measured drivers of engagement based on two key outcomes: commitment & dedication, which relates to individual motivation; and effective environment, which captures factors within a work group that support success. The University plans to conduct the survey annually.

Colleges and units are now reviewing the results of the survey to identify specific actions that will continue to create a workplace in which people thrive. Extension leadership recently reviewed our results. Two areas that emerged as opportunities for action were new employee orientation and working across program areas. Both of these are issues we have put additional resources into in the last few years and we look forward to continuing to identify actions that will support new employees and cross-discipline programming. You will hear more about these action plans in the coming months.

In addition, we will be sharing Extension's results and engaging employees in discussions to identify individual and collective actions in the following ways:

  • I will host an employee webinar to share the Extension-wide results
  • I will review the results with Extension's Faculty Consultative Committee (EFCC) and Staff Consultative Committees (ESCC)
  • A breakdown of results by units will be shared by the leaders of the four Extension centers, RSDP, field operations and the dean's office

Thank you for your participation in the survey. I look forward to using the results to continue to guide our investment in making Extension a vital and engaged workplace.
 

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dean's Column (April 3, 2014)

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Dear Colleagues,

Next week, I will join our government relations staff in hosting U of M Extension staff and association delegates at the annual Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD)conference in Washington, D.C. This national conference provides two days of intensive public issues education and professional development before Extension staff meet with Minnesota's federal senators, representatives and their staff.

During the conference, Extension faculty and educators learn about the current legislative session, budgets, policy issues and how to build relationships with federal legislators and their staff.

Several U of M Extension educators will attend the conference and are scheduled to visit the offices of Senators Klobuchar and Franken and Representatives John Kline, Betty McCollum, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz to advocate for Extension and tell their stories about how Extension is addressing current issues and challenges in their Minnesota districts.

The U of M Extension delegates include Ellie McCann, family development educator, ESP; Neil Linscheid, community economics educator, MACLEP; Dave Nicolai, crops educator, MAEAP; Amanda Sommers, youth development educator, MAE4-HYDP; Katherine Brandt, food safety educator, NEAFCS; Kathy Olson, family development educator, NEAFCS president; Barb Radke, leadership and civic engagement educator and PILD presenter; Sarah Greening, chief of staff; and Gwen Gmeinder, government relations associate.   

It is important for our federal legislators to understand the value of Extension. Visiting with them in Washington has a positive impact on their awareness of our programs and resources. This year we have the added benefit of four 4-H Minnesota youth joining our visits to "the hill."

My thanks to the staff who are investing in this professional development opportunity and building active support for Extension.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,
 
Every year, Extension acknowledges the contributions of our distinguished campus and field support staff, program staff and nutrition staff (community nutrition educators and SNAP-Ed educators) through the Extension Dean's distinguished awards for civil service and bargaining unit staff. 
 
I invite all of you to consider the important impact created by the staff you work with and take time to nominate your colleagues. This is a great opportunity to highlight outstanding efforts for the entire Extension community to see. Given the high quality of our staff, I hope to see nominations from all Extension centers, regions and units!
 
Nominations simply require a letter of nomination (two page maximum), a current position description for the nominee, and a supervisor's letter of support. Please submit nominations to stschida@umn.edu  by Monday, April 3.  If you have any questions, please refer to the awards section on the Extension intranet for award criteria or contact Shelly Tschida.
 
The awards ceremony will take place at the 2014 staff conferences: Tuesday, May 6 in Bemidji and Thursday, May 14 in Mankato.

Bev Durgan
Dean 

This year, Extension will host the annual staff conference in two separate locations: May 6 in Bemidji at the Sanford Center, and May 14 in Mankato at the Verizon Center. These two locations were chosen to make it easier for staff to attend by reducing travel and out-of-office time.

Extension's staff conference brings together more than 200 Extension civil service and bargaining unit staff to learn new skills and interact with colleagues from across the state. I encourage all of the following staff groups to attend this important event: clerical/technical, civil service, nutrition educators, 4-H program coordinators, Master Gardener coordinators, community program specialists, community program assistants and county support staff. Additional conference details and registration will be available in March.

During the staff conference, I will present the annual awards for campus and field-based support staff, program staff and nutrition educator. Supervisors and colleagues are encouraged to nominate staff for these awards. Please submit your nominations by April 18.

Next year, the staff conference will be held in one location in the Twin Cities area. The plan is to alternate every other year between one Twin Cities location and two Greater Minnesota locations; we will monitor feedback about this change very closely over the next couple years to determine if this plan will work.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues

In 2014, National Cooperative Extension System will celebrate the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, which created the national system for Extension. As part of this celebration, several states will engage in a project called "Extension Reconsidered." This project is supported by the Charles F. Kettering Foundation and includes special events across the country during this anniversary year.

University of Minnesota Extension will join 12 other states in hosting a public forum to engage citizens in imagining Extension's vision for the 21st century. University of Minnesota Extension's public event will be held on July 31 in Crookston as a part of a statewide Design Conference. We will share more information later this spring and summer as the event is planned.

We look forward to engaging citizens in this time for thoughtful and creative discussions. Throughout our first century, Extension organized opportunities for people to come together to address public problems and express their hopes and ideals. As we begin our second century, the Smith-Lever centennial and "Extension Reconsidered" will give us an opportunity to bring together a variety of people and perspectives to imagine how our legacy can grow in the 21st century.

Bev Durgan
Dean


Dear Colleagues,

This week, I have a few updates for you:

Senior associate dean
As you know, Dick Senese, senior associate dean, took a new position at Capella University and his last day with Extension was Monday. I have distributed the responsibilities on an interim basis while we take time to assess our needs. I will be working with the leadership team over the next several weeks to identify needs and explore ideas before defining and posting a position.

SNAP-Ed funding
A new five-year Farm Bill and the president's 2014 budget have passed the U.S. House and Senate. Both restore most of the funding for the national SNAP-Ed program. We are pleased to see this support for SNAP-Ed and will use any additional funding to add staff to our new regional model.

However, we do not expect to receive all of the funding outlined in the Farm Bill and the president's budget. While funding is authorized in the Farm Bill, the actual appropriations are determined each year and may be less than what is authorized, based on national budget realities. In addition, Minnesota's SNAP-Ed funding is scheduled to be reduced by at least 10 percent each year for the next four years as part of a national effort to redistribute the SNAP-Ed funding across the states. And, the SNAP-Ed grant is administered by the Minnesota Department of Health, which contracts with Extension to deliver the nutrition education to SNAP-eligible participants. As with all grants, we cannot assume the funding is recurring. This is why we are committed to our new regional model that will allow us to expand and contract based on the actual funding.

Smith-Lever anniversary
2014 is the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act. This federal act established the Cooperative Extension Service, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and land-grant universities to extend research-based knowledge through outreach education. University of Minnesota was ahead of the curve, establishing Extension in 1909, five years before the 1914 federal act which established a state-by-state national network to improve the lives of families, youth, farmers, communities and businesses. While we celebrated Extension's centennial in 2009, we will be observing the federal anniversary in 2014. Watch for more information about how you can participate in the national social media campaign and other opportunities to support the anniversary.


Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

As we prepare to celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, I want to thank all of you who continue to be committed to reaching new and diverse audiences, recruiting diverse faculty and staff, and growing our own understanding and efforts in diversity and inclusion.

I am committed to ensuring that Extension's diversity and inclusion efforts are closely tied to our program areas, based on our strengths and connected to research. This will help to ensure that our investments in diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs are successful and sustainable.

We have several efforts underway, including: the launch of a professional development series in 2014 on civil rights and reaching key audiences from diverse communities; partnering with the Office of Equity and Diversity to develop online versions of their face-to-face workshops; and sessions at Extension staff and program conferences. In addition, we are launching an internal effort to ensure program teams have current demographic information related to key audiences from diverse communities. This effort with begin in early 2014 in the Southeast region, with a different region becoming involved each year thereafter.

We have an opportunity and a responsibility to create an environment that supports diversity and eliminates discrimination. While we maintain our individual cultural values, we also appreciate and learn from the diverse cultures that make up our communities.

On this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I invite all of us to reflect and renew our collective effort to address issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

I enter this holiday season and end of year with both a grateful and heavy heart.

I am grateful for all of you and the work you do to make a difference in Minnesota. Throughout the year, your education, research and engaged outreach helps to keep our food safe and affordable, prepares today's youth to thrive in a complex world, ensures Minnesota communities are strong, improves our environment and helps families make better decisions.

I am very proud of the work you do and look forward to scheduling visits throughout Minnesota in 2014 to see your programming in action.

At the same time, it is a difficult and sad time for Extension. Earlier this week, following an internal search process, nutrition staff who did not apply for or receive a position in the new regional nutrition system were sent layoff notices. Their last day with Extension will be January 14.

As you know from previous messages, we are restructuring Extension's federally funded nutrition education program for low-income Minnesotans. Due to the loss of federal funding, we need to restructure the program to match the reduced funding levels. To do this, we are creating a new regional model for nutrition education with 40 percent fewer nutrition staff.

This reduction was a very difficult decision to make. Our community nutrition educators make a positive difference in the lives of low-income Minnesotans struggling to provide food for themselves and their families. With this restructuring, many of our nutrition colleagues will no longer have a position in Extension. This is indeed a very painful holiday season for the Extension nutrition staff and their colleagues and friends across Extension. I ask for your continued support and consideration of your colleagues.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Today I want to answer a few of the questions that have been asked since our November 18 announcement of the Extension nutrition restructuring.

As you know from previous messages, the restructuring of Extension's federally funded nutrition education program for low-income Minnesotans is necessary due to the loss of federal funding. We need to restructure the program to match the funding levels. To do this, we are creating a new regional model for nutrition education with 40 percent fewer nutrition staff.

What investments has Extension made in the nutrition program?
During federal fiscal year 2013, rather than make immediate cuts in the program, Extension covered the loss of over 30 percent of the federal funding for the nutrition program.  

In addition, like all Extension programs, Extension annually invests other funds in the program that go toward operations, salaries, professional development and programming. For the nutrition program, that has totaled over $1M annually in non-federal funding from Extension. We will continue to make that investment in the new regional nutrition model.

And, I am committed to continuing to find additional funds for our nutrition programs and to work with our federal partners to restore the federal funding.

What impact has funding the nutrition budget cut had on other Extension programs?
Covering the reduction in federal funding for the last year was a significant and intentional decision. Our goal was to support this program without compromising our other Extension programs.

During the last year, in addition to reducing the operations and staffing budgets in the nutrition program and Center for Family Development, I asked the other associate deans and unit directors to be fiscally conservative with their operations and staff budgets. This means we have held on filling some open or new positions in other centers. I will continue to work with the associate deans to evaluate each request for positions.

What is the timeline that we need to know about?

  • The internal search process will be completed December 16.
  • Layoff notices will be sent on December 17 to nutrition staff who do not apply or receive a new nutrition position.
  • Later in December, information will be sent to staff about what to do with nutrition files and materials in the county offices.
  • January 14 is the last day of employment for staff who receive layoff notices.
  • In the New Year, the new regional staff will work with local community partners to determine educational programs and delivery models.

Thank you again for your support of our nutrition programs.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

On Monday I announced a restructuring of Extension's federally-funded nutrition education program for low-income Minnesotans. Due to the loss of federal funding, we need to restructure the program to match the funding levels. We will do this by creating a regional delivery model that has been used successfully with our other Extension programs. However, we will have to do this with 40 percent fewer nutrition staff.

This reorganization will result in new regional positions and we are encouraging our current nutrition staff to apply for these positions. Those who do not apply or do not receive a position will receive layoff notices after the completion of the internal hiring process in mid-December.

I am saddened that we had to make this decision, especially since we know there are so many low-income Minnesotans struggling to provide food for themselves and their families. Our nutrition staff and educators have made a significant difference in the lives of over 63,000 low-income individuals each year. Working with more than 1,200 state and local agencies, they help individuals and families learn how to stretch limited food dollars and make healthy, affordable choices.

We remain committed to providing educational programs to low-income individuals across Minnesota. While the regional model will enable us to continue to do this, we will not be able to provide the same level of educational programs that we have in the past.

Information and resources for nutrition staff are available on a special section of the Extension intranet. I appreciate your continued support and consideration for our nutrition staff.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

How many times have you heard, "Extension is Minnesota's best kept secret. More people need to know about Extension."? With over 800,000 participants, 800 staff, 25,000 educational events and 4,000 news articles annually, Extension should not be a secret. All of you can play a role in increasing the visibility of Extension by using Extension's brand when appropriate.  

Extension has invested in creating one system for Extension's educational and promotional materials that reflects the University brand and aligns all of our work under one Extension. Templates and designs for printed and electronic materials are available for all Extension staff and programs to use. Please review current materials and make sure you are using the appropriate Extension brand materials available on the intranet.

Partnerships and collaborations
In addition to Extension programs that we create, lead and brand, Extension is often involved in collaborations, partnerships and events led by other organizations. Just as Extension may identify partners or sponsors (with words or logos) in our brochures, fliers and websites, we may also be listed in other organizations' materials when appropriate. In those instances, you will need to coordinate with your partners and sponsors to determine the best method to be sure that Extension's name, wordmark (when appropriate) and contribution are identified in the materials. The communications department and your center's communication manager can assist you.

Clothing
Wearing clothing with Extension's wordmark is an easy way to let people know that you are a part of University of Minnesota Extension. Extension is providing faculty and staff with a shirt to wear for Extension programs, media interviews and other public events. Shirts were distributed at program conference in October, we will distribute shirts at the staff conference in April and new employees will receive a shirt.

In addition to these shirts, you can order other Extension clothing through the U of M Bookstore. Wearing your Extension name badge is another easy way to make your connection to Extension visible. If you or your program teams want to create additional clothing items, you can do so by using the Extension wordmark.  Do not create clothing for specific programs (4-H staff use the 4-H shirt templates). All clothing purchases that are paid for with Extension funding (regardless of source) must have approval from your supervisor to ensure the purchase is appropriate and you are using the funds correctly.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, Extension faculty and educators from across the state met in Duluth for the annual program conference focused on professional development, program building and organizational networking. During the conference, I gave the annual State of Extension Update. 

Also at the conference, I had the pleasure of giving out the annual dean's awards. Please join me in congratulating the award winners:

Friend of Extension - Connie Greer, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity at the Minnesota Department of Human Services

Campus-Based Faculty - Dr. Marla Spivak, Extension entomologist

Field-Based Faculty - Rebecca Harrington, Extension educator, youth development

Outstanding Leadership - Dr. Jeffrey Reneau, Extension animal scientist and Extension program leader

Diversity - Leadership and Civic Engagement Team: Ryan Allen, Peter Campion, Eriks Dunens, Mary Ann Hennen, Lisa Hinz, Jody Horntvedt, Mike Liepold, Barb Radke, Catherine Rasmussen, Lori Rothstein, Toby Spanier, Denise Stromme, Denise Trudeau Poskas

Team - 4-H State Fair Leadership Team: Brad Rugg, Amber Runke, Todd Mehrkens, Karen Nelson, Kristen Delph, Wendy Huckaby, Jacquie Lonning, Jan Derdowski

Congratulations to all the award winners!

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Developing leaders is important for every organization and it is something we value in Extension. Each year, we invest in sending 3-4 faculty and staff to participate in the National Extension Leadership Development (NELD) program.

The purpose of the program is to give current and future Extension leaders and administrators an opportunity to learn about and strengthen leadership skills, develop a better understanding of their own leadership styles, and build networks across regional and national Extension.

I am pleased to announce the University of Minnesota Extension participants for the class of 2014: Tammy McCulloch, regional director; Joel Haskard, regional sustainable development partnerships, Krishona Martinson, associate professor and Extension equine specialist; and Rebecca Harrington, Extension educator in youth development. They will join colleagues from across the north central region in the year-long leadership development program.

Finishing the NELD class of 2013 are Extension participants Amy Baker, chief technology officer; Kia Harries, Extension educator in youth development; Susanne Hinrichs, regional director; and Antonio Alba Meraz, Extension educator in family development.

I encourage you to talk with your colleagues about their experience and ask them to share what they have learned.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

On September 14, Extension will take part in the inaugural Celebrate Ag & Food Day during the Gopher Football game against Western Illinois. This is a new venture for Extension and an exciting example of our growing development efforts.

Extension is partnering with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and others on this special opportunity. Extension friends, college alumni and agricultural leaders are invited to the game at the TCF Bank Stadium to celebrate and show your support for Minnesota agricultural and food industries.

Extension staff and friends can order tickets at a special rate of $15 (select the button under "CFANSWESTERNILLINOIS2013FB"). Tickets must be purchased by September 13 to be a part of this group.

I look forward to seeing you at the game! Don't forget to show your support by wearing Extension clothing.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues

The Great Minnesota Get-Together - aka the 2013 Minnesota State Fair - will run Aug. 22 to Sept. 2. Once again, Extension will be showcased at the Fair. If you have a chance to visit the Fair, be sure to visit your Extension colleagues, volunteers and participants:

4-H Building

  • More than 6,000 4-H exhibits and performing arts shows feature the knowledge and skills 4-H'ers have acquired throughout the year. About 2,200 "blue ribbon" kids exhibit livestock in the animal barns. See the 4-H State Fair website for daily highlights and results.
  • There are several exciting science activities to try in the 4-H building, including Rube Goldberg machines,mini and human size hovercrafts, a remotely controlled super robot, and a makey makey maker.
  • Extension will host an exhibit in the UM Building on Sunday, September 1 from 9 am - 9 pm. The exhibit will feature an "Are You Smarter than a 4-H'er" quiz and 4-H rabbit agility demonstrations.

University of Minnesota Building

  • Extension will host an exhibit in the UM Building on Sunday, September 1 from 9 am - 9 pm. The exhibit will feature an "Are You Smarter than a 4-H'er" quiz and 4-H rabbit agility demonstrations.

Agriculture-Horticulture Building

  • Master Gardener volunteers will answer gardening questions each day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visitors can also watch Master Gardeners present gardening education throughout the day on The Dirt Stage.
  • The Honey Bees program team, including Gary Reuter, Extension entomologist, will show off a "bee beard" on Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 1 p.m.

DNR Building

  • Gary Wyatt, Extension educator in natural resource management and utilization, will present "Controlling woody invasive plants" on the DNR stage on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 3 p.m.
  • Master Naturalists will be available each day, in the wildlife wing, to answer questions about wildlife in Minnesota.

Minnesota Public Radio

  • Mark Seeley, Extension climatologist, will appear on MPR Presents Tuesday, Aug. 27, from noon to 1 p.m., with Cathy Wurzer and Paul Huttner. MPR broadcasts from the corner of Judson and Nelson.

For a complete schedule and map of University events that will be taking place at the fair, see U at the State Fair.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Next week marks the start of Farmfest 2013, which is held near Redwood Falls. Farmfest, Minnesota's largest farm-related gathering, in which Extension has a strong presence, has an emphasis on national and state agricultural and rural policy issues.

On Thursday, August 8, Extension and the University will recognize farm families from 76 Minnesota counties for their contributions to agriculture, our economy and rural communities. The University started the Farm Family of the Year program 33 years ago to recognize successful farm families for their positive impact in Minnesota. Local Extension committees choose the families for demonstrating commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture. The families represent each county participating in the program.

Farm families and agriculture are a major driver of Minnesota's economy and the vitality of Minnesota's rural communities. Farmers contribute in ways that matter to the entire state, providing more than 340,000 jobs and $75 billion in economic activity. They also contribute their time and skills to solve community problems, and keep their schools, businesses and youth organizations strong. Many volunteer for 4-H and other groups, and donate generously to these efforts.

Please join me in thanking the farm families. Profiles of the 2013 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University's farm family website.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear colleagues,

Our colleagues who retire remain a vital part of Extension long after their retirement party is over and they move on to new adventures. Retirees can be strong advocates, partners, volunteers and donors. Some even return to work with us on specific projects that require their expertise and relationships.

Today, we have nearly 400 retirees in active communication with Extension. In addition to a newsletter for retirees that provides updates on retired colleagues and Extension programs, we have a Facebook page for Extension retirees. There are 58 active retirees keeping in touch on Facebook and we are working to get more involved with social media.

Each year, we host a summer luncheon for retirees in the Twin Cities. This year we added one in northern Minnesota. In June, I met with 25 retirees in Detroit Lakes, including colleagues I worked with when I first came to Extension as an agronomist and weed scientist. I look forward to our Twin Cities luncheon next week, where 65 of our former colleagues are already registered to attend.

We know that Extension retirees are also generous donors and supporters of Extension research and education. We have increased our outreach to retirees through the work of Jane Johnson, Extension's chief development officer. The development team now also includes two part-time major gift officers, Jayne Hager Dee and Nancy Frosaker, both former Extension regional directors. Jayne works with Extension retirees who live in Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities area. Nancy concentrates her efforts on the Emerging Leadership Program of Northwest Minnesota as well as establishing a county 4-H endowment.

Extension is filled with employees who are working to make a difference with the people, programs and places they are passionate about. It is rewarding to see that passion continue after colleagues leave Extension.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear colleagues,

Earlier this week, more than 140 friends of 4-H and Extension enjoyed a beautiful June day of golfing, volunteering and fundraising at the annual Minnesota 4-H Foundation golf tournament. A special focus of this year's tournament was raising support for the Helping Hands Grant program which gives grants to 4-H youth for community service projects.

The golf tournament is just one of many ways Extension and the Minnesota 4-H Foundation cultivate friends and donors who support Extension's positive impact across Minnesota. Our development leaders, Cara Miller and Jane Johnson, have been working closely with Extension staff to identify and build relationships with potential donors. They've been successful in securing a variety of gifts that support Extension programs in leadership, 4-H, the science of agriculture and natural resources.

While Extension is fairly new in building our culture of philanthropy, we have tremendous advantages. Fund development is ultimately about building and cultivating relationships. Research shows that successful fundraising organizations share Extension's view of the community as a partner in their work; they invite others into the process and value what they learn from them. We know that people give because they want to solve a problem, make a difference or improve their community. Extension provides donors with an opportunity to have a positive impact on an issue, program or part of the state that matters most to them.

It's surprising to learn that the biggest reason people do not donate is because they are not asked. Connecting program participants, community partners and other Extension 'enthusiasts' with opportunities to contribute is an important part of our collective responsibilities in Extension.  Next week, I'll be visiting with Extension retirees in Northwest Minnesota, and participating in a celebration announcing a new 4-H Endowment for Norman County, as well as connecting with key prospects. Every place I travel throughout the state, I see the many ways Extension programs inspire donors to give.

As you see fund development opportunities and ways to connect potential donors and partners with our research and education, please contact Jane or Cara. They will help you plan and coordinate strategies to develop donors and contributions to support Extension and 4-H.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Extension's academic promotion process was established in 2006 to support and recognize educators for their achievement in six categories: scholarship, education and teaching, program leadership, engagement, program management, and service.

I am pleased to announce that 22 Extension staff recently completed the process to achieve the following:

Promoted from assistant Extension educator to associate Extension educator: Laura Kieser and Randy Pepin.

Promoted from assistant Extension professor to associate Extension professor: John Bennett, Barbara Radke, Jim Paulson, Karen Terry, Connie Burns, Mary Caskey, Betsy Johnson, Kelly Kunkel and DeeAnn Leines.

Promoted from associate Extension professor to full Extension professor: Karl Foord, Doug Holen and Amy Rager.

Reconfirmed rank of associate Extension professor: Debra Botzek-Linn and Jill May.

Reconfirmed rank of Extension professor: Mike Leopold, Lisa Behnken, Gary Hachfeld, Chuck Schwartau, Gary Wyatt and Cindy Peterson.

Promotion is a professional indicator of personal and organizational success. Extension's promotion process reinforces the importance of our Extension education model and our responsibility to develop and deliver effective research-based educational programming.

I want to thank all those involved in this year's academic review process -- the applicants, supervisors, review committee members, peer reviewers, mentors, program team members and administrative staff.

The application process for the 2014 promotion cycle will begin soon. If you are considering applying for academic promotion, please discuss with your supervisor and submit your letter of intent by August 19.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

This week I had an opportunity to see two exciting examples of Extension's work with University undergraduate and graduate students. The first was a 4-H aquatic remote operated vehicle (ROV), created with students and faculty from the U's department of electrical and computer engineering. The second was a capstone project by Humphrey Institute graduate students to assist Extension in responding to increasingly diverse and interdependent domestic and global needs.

4-H's aquatic robotics program includes more than 4,000 4-H youth who learn how to build ROVs and use them for water testing and other projects. 4-H needed an ROV that could withstand currents and dive deeper. Extension faculty worked with the student and faculty engineers to develop the new ROV prototype. The next step is for the engineering and Extension faculty and students to make the 200-pound prototype lighter and more accessible so it can be built and used by 4-H youth.

Several graduate students from the U's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs completed their Capstone projects with Extension. They developed tools and resources that will assist Extension staff in incorporating global dynamics and cultural knowledge in Extension programs. You will be hearing more about those resources from Renee Pardello and Dick Senese in the coming months.

These are just two examples of the valuable ways Extension can engage University students and faculty from colleges we have not worked with in the past. In the process, we expose students to Extension who may never have considered Extension as a future career choice, they gain experience working in communities, and we benefit from their knowledge and expertise.

I look forward to seeing more examples of Extension's engagement with U undergraduate and graduate students.

Bev Durgan
Dean

 

Dear Colleagues,

Last week I had two opportunities to see Extension from both the national level and the local level. Both perspectives reinforced that we have much to be proud of in Minnesota.

During the annual Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) conference held April 22-24 in Washington, D.C., Minnesota was well represented. Rebecca Hagen Jokela, Extension educator in family resource management received the Joint Council of Extension Professionals (JCEP) Excellence in Teamwork award for the "Intergenerational Land Transfer Class," and presented a snapshot of the award-winning program. Conference speakers also included Extension Economist Laura Kalambokidis presenting "You Can Understand and Effectively Communicate the Public Value of Cooperative Extension," and Extension Climatologist Mark Seeley presenting "Minnesota's Climate Adaptation Program: Addressing Climate Literacy and Advancing Adaptive Planning."   

Several Extension staff attended the conference and visited the offices of Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Keith Ellison, John Kline, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz to advocate for Extension by telling their stories about how Extension is addressing current issues and challenges in their Minnesota districts. The Extension delegates included Jennifer Garbow, Extension educator in family resource management; Ellie McCann, Extension educator in families in transition; Ryan Pesch, Extension educator in community economics; Betsy Wieland, Extension educator in ag production systems; Tracy Ignaszewski, 4-H program coordinator; Andrea Lorek Strauss, Extension educator in environmental science education; Kathy Olson, coordinator for planning for school success; David Benson, CARET delegate; Sarah Greening, chief of staff; and Gwen Gmeinder, government relations associate.   

I returned from Washington to attend the Extension Staff Conference, where nearly 300 of our local and regional staff gathered to build skills, learn more about Extension and share their great stories.

I had the pleasure of presenting the Distinguished Dean's Staff awards to four staff who help Extension make a difference in Minnesota. We are very proud to have such dedicated and excellent staff within Extension! I encourage you to congratulate them for all their efforts.

  • Campus Support Staff - Amy Shaffer, executive office and administrative specialist, St. Paul
  • Field Support Staff - Maryann Woeste, office manager, Todd County
  • Community Nutrition Educator - Tammie Malwitz, Pennington County
  • Program Staff - Amanda Swenson, 4-H program coordinator, Isanti County

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Last November, I wrote to you about an Extension-wide priority and commitment to update our website. Extension has more than 22,000 web pages in 200 program and topic websites. While some of our content is current and relevant, we have content and pages that are outdated, abandoned, not presented well for the web, or not branded to Extension and the University.

Over the last three months, we have been working across all of the centers to ensure that our website meets basic standards:

  • Content is current
  • Information is presented in formats that are appropriate for the web
  • Users experience consistent navigation and branding on every part of the website

This is a significant effort for Extension and one that I expect all of Extension to make a priority. After this initial phase of cleaning up our existing web content, we will begin preparing two major phases:

  • Creating centralized pages and tools to support our web presence. Examples include implementing a content management system, rebuilding county web pages and developing a calendar system.
  • Developing consistent expectations and support for program faculty and staff to develop and manage web appropriate content on the Extension website.

Extension's website is one of the most visible ways we present our education, information and brand to our audiences. Centrally, we are responsible for ensuring that we have the right tools and resources in place to run a system-wide website. At the center and program level, faculty and staff need to have ownership and responsibility for the information we present on our website.

I have made this a priority and we will track the progress of this at our monthly dean's leadership meetings. We will also report on our progress in future issues of e-news.

I ask for your attention to this when you are asked to work with your web team.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

It seems that budgets are on everyone's minds these days. Extension faculty, staff and partners continue to express concern about the status of Extension's federal, state and grant funds. I have been in budget discussions at both the state and federal level, and I would like to provide you with an update on Extension's budget and financial situation.

On March 2, Extension had its Compact meeting with Provost Hanson during which we discussed our priorities and budget. We will hear the outcome of our University budget requests in May. In April, Extension center associate deans and administrative unit directors will prepare and submit their fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget requests to me. In early May, I will review the requests with Extension leaders and finalize the FY 2014 budget in June.  

We are preparing for reductions in Extension's federal funding. As you are aware, we received a reduction in federal funding for our nutrition programs. As a result of continued budget reductions at the federal level, we will be receiving at least a 7.9-percent reduction in our federal capacity funding (Smith Lever and other funds). Extension will also need to provide funding for salary increases as announced by President Kaler. Together, these will total an additional $3.5 million in costs for FY 2014.

Our current funding plan is to cover these costs from Extension's reserves. By covering these costs from reserves, Extension will not have to cut positions or programs in order to cover these additional costs in FY 2014. Thanks to our collective wise stewardship of public and private funding, Extension currently has the reserves available to cover these expenses. However, we will need to continue to diversify our funding sources and continue our efforts to obtain grants, gifts and fees to offer high quality programs that meet the needs of Minnesota.

We will continue to be wise stewards of our public and private funds, ensuring that Extension education and research provide the greatest positive impact across the state.

Thank you for all your efforts.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

In 2012, Extension initiated a process to identify key issues affecting the quality of life in Minnesota and Extension's role in providing solutions to these issues. Through the engagement of faculty, staff and citizen advisory committee members, Extension identified three priority issues: community food systems, bridging the educational achievement gap, and clean energy. From our discussions, it is clear that each of these issues represents a complex challenge with multiple stakeholders. It is also clear that Extension already has work in progress in each of these areas.

I am now pleased to announce the leadership teams for these areas:

Bridging the Educational Achievement Gap - Cathy Jordan and Jennifer Skuza
Clean Energy - Kathy Draeger and Brent Hales
Community Food Systems - Ben Anderson, Ryan Pesch, Greg Schweser and Katherine Waters

I have asked each of these teams to work with Senior Associate Dean Dick Senese to identify and report on the existing work being done by Extension in these areas, with a focus on the value that our research and educational efforts create for Minnesota.

As I have said in the past, these issue areas are not intended to compete with current Extension program priorities. I have asked these teams to consider how our work could be better coordinated across Extension and to identify how additional efforts could add value to helping Minnesota address these areas.

These are important areas and provide yet another opportunity for Extension to demonstrate that we can have a significant impact through our research and educational programs. Thanks to all of you who provided input into identifying and developing the next steps for Extension's work across the three issue areas.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

On April 25, Extension will host the annual staff conference for all Extension civil service and bargaining unit staff in the following categories: clerical/technical, civil service, community nutrition educators, 4-H program coordinators, Master Gardener coordinators, community program specialists, community program assistants and county support staff. This event brings together more than 150 Extension staff colleagues to be invigorated by learning new skills and interacting with colleagues from across the state.

The conference will be held at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. I encourage all eligible staff to attend, and I have asked all supervisors to work with staff in making arrangements for travel and time away from the office.  

During staff day, I am pleased to present the annual awards for Campus and Field-Based Support Staff, Program Staff and Community Nutrition Educator. Please submit your nominations for these awards by April 1.

In addition to the staff conference, 4-H program coordinators and regional and county staff will be attending one of five regional meetings with the Extension Center for Youth Development from April 30 to May 8. I appreciate  their efforts to attend both of these important events.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

The 2013 Minnesota legislative session began on January 8 with 42 newly elected House of Representatives members and 23 newly elected Senators. President Kaler and the University community are working hard to gain support for the University's biennial budget request. I encourage you to read the U website for more information and to contact your legislators to express your support for the University.

Last week, Dean Al Levine and I had the opportunity to present an overview of Extension and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) to the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. The hearing provided the opportunity to educate legislators on how Extension and CFANS serve Minnesota and the agriculture community. Using examples from the latest issue of Source, as well as other program examples, I testified on how Extension improves Minnesotans' quality of life through its statewide educational programs and explained how Extension disseminates the University's research to citizens to help solve Minnesota's challenges.

It is important that all Extension staff continue to support and advocate for Extension and the University. To help us maintain a collective advocacy effort within Extension, please follow our government relations guidelines:

  • If you have been formally invited to testify at a legislative hearing, you need prior approval. Send the following information to Sarah Greening: committee, agenda topic, date and time
  • If you meet with legislators or staffers, please complete the form. The form is automatically routed to Gwen Gmeinder for inclusion in the Extension legislative database.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear colleagues,

The Winter 2013 issue of Source magazine is hot off the press and en route to campus, regional and county offices. Source is also available online and many of the stories about Extension's impact across the state will be featured on both the Extension and the University home pages, as well as shared through social media, in person, and via email over the next few months.

This issue of Source highlights the many ways Extension is creating a stronger Minnesota through education and research, including University President Eric Kaler's thoughts about what he has seen of Extension as he's traveled around the state. Discover how Extension reaches more farmers by educating the agricultural professionals who influence them. Read how Extension's 4-H prepares youth to lead and succeed through its unique learning model. Learn how Extension is helping to fill a leadership gap in rural Minnesota communities.

This issue also features Extension's work in growing healthier foods through research and education on high tunnels and phytonutrients; response to needs expressed by the Fond du Lac community to better manage their natural resources; curriculum that helps families adjust to changing economic conditions; and a new edition of a book on ornamental grasses that is based on 25 years of research.

Please feel free to use the printer-friendly versions of the stories available on the Extension website. Copies of these stories are helpful to include in your program marketing materials and discussions with partners and customers.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

In early January, the House, Senate and President Obama passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 to avert the fiscal cliff. The legislation has significant implications for SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) in Minnesota and nationwide.

The legislation calls for a 28% reduction in federal funding for SNAP-Ed in FY 2013. This is a significant and unexpected cut. Because of the importance of this program to low-income Minnesotans, we will make short-term financial reallocations within Extension to prevent immediate cuts in the program. While this is not a long-term solution, it creates time for us to work with our federal legislators to try to get funding restored for FY 2014 and to work with other potential funders and partners.

Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio ran a story on SNAP-Ed and the funding announcement. If you didn't hear it, you can listen, read an article and see photos on the MPR website.  

As reported in the news story, community nutrition educators (CNEs) are funded through the federal SNAP-Ed grant that comes from USDA through the Minnesota Department of Human Services to Extension. The nutrition program is delivered in partnership with Minnesota counties, providing county offices and support for Extension's CNEs.

This program reaches underserved audiences across Minnesota with important health and nutrition information. Last year, over 30% of participants in our SNAP-Ed childhood obesity programs were from communities of color. Across our general nutrition education workshops, classes and hands-on demonstrations, over 60% of participants report changing their diet to be more healthy. And, more than three-quarters of graduates of one of our key learn-to-cook-at-home programs reported eating more vegetables and fruits, and all of them reported making a recipe they learned in the program at home.

We will be working closely with our partners over the coming months to address this funding reduction so that we can continue to offer this important program throughout Minnesota.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year!

As we return from our holiday break, many of us are focused on the federal and state legislatures. This will be an important year for the University and Extension. State and federal funding make up over half of Extension's budget, as well as impacting Minnesota counties, which fund another 20 percent of Extension's budget.

As always, there are two important things you can do to ensure support for Extension. The first is your work, ensuring that Extension's education and research make a positive, measurable difference in Minnesota. The second is communication, telling legislators and stakeholders about the positive impacts that result from their investment in Extension.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to review the University's website outlining the biennial budget request. Each one of us can play an important role in communicating the importance of the University and its budget request.

Bev Durgan
Dean

Dear Colleagues,

As 2012 draws to a close, I want to thank you for another successful year of connecting the University with every county of Minnesota. Through our education and research, we make Minnesota a better place to live today and for future generations.

I am pleased to announce that all counties continue to invest in Extension. As you have seen from many of President Kaler's messages, the University values the relationships and impact Extension has throughout the state.

I wish you a safe and healthy holiday season. I hope you find time to celebrate your professional and personal accomplishments of 2012, returning in 2013 ready for another year of making a difference in Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

On Tuesday you received an email from me asking for your feedback on Extension's educational and program marketing materials. If you have not done so already, please take a few minutes to complete the online survey.

Over the past two years, the University and Extension have made it a priority to align all of our education and research under the University and Extension brands so our many audiences know the value and impact of the University. Extension has developed templates - PowerPoints, fact sheets, brochures, signs, posters, etc. - for all of our educational and program marketing materials.

Every day we deliver hundreds of programs, workshops and educational resources. When we consistently use our Extension educational and program marketing materials, we communicate the value of the University through the value of our work.

I look forward to hearing how we can continue to develop the materials to support our programs and their positive impact across Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this fall, Senior Vice President Robert Jones, announced that he would be leaving the University to take a new position as president of the University of Albany in New York. As dean of Extension, I have reported to Dr. Jones in his role as senior vice president for academic administration. Through the years, Dr. Jones has been a steadfast ally and supporter of Extension. While I will miss his leadership, I am confident that the University of Albany will benefit from our loss.

With Dr. Jones' departure, President Kaler charged a task force to determine the direction for the units that reported to Dr. Jones in the Office for Academic Administration. I have been in conversation with the task force about Extension.

Today, President Kaler announced that the central task force recommendation is to eliminate the Office for Academic Administration, University of Minnesota System, and to realign the functions and reporting lines from that office with the administrative unit or college that most closely shares their mission and work. He has reviewed and accepted their recommendations.

I am pleased with the task force recommendation and the President's decision to have Extension report to the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. This reflects the positive changes we have made in Extension to enhance our research, scholarship and education to have a positive impact on outreach and engagement.

The report states, "Extension is fundamentally an academic function and alignment with other academic units through the provost is optimal. The task force notes that the role of Extension has changed significantly over the past fifteen years. These changes have been driven by the needs of our communities, evolving technologies, and resource constraints. Today, agricultural programming represents only 35 percent of Extension's portfolio while the remainder is increasingly comprised of contemporary strategies to address a complex range of community challenges." You can find the task force report on the President's website.

I will be working with Provost Karen Hanson over the coming months as we make this transition.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, Extension faculty and educators from across the state met in St. Paul for the annual program conference focused on professional development, program building and organizational networking. During the conference, I gave the annual State of Extension Update.   

Also, at the conference, I had the pleasure of giving out the annual dean's awards. A news release is available with information about the award winners. Please join me in congratulating them:

Friend of Extension - Dan Dolan, Chair, Washington County Extension Committee

Campus Faculty - Larry Jacobson, Extension agricultural engineer

Field Faculty - Suzanne Driessen, Extension educator, food safety

Outstanding Leadership - Deb Zak, northwest regional director

Team - Private Applicator Recertification Team: Dean Herzfeld, Tana Haugen, Mary Kay Ferguson, Kay Sargent, Fritz Breitenbach, Lisa Behnken, Diane DeWitte, Michael Donnelly, Phil Glogoza, Dan Martens, Ryan Miller, Dave Nicolai, Brenda Postels, Liz Stahl, Jerry Tesmer, and Nathan Winter

Diversity -  Community Mentorship Program: Antonio Alba Meraz, Sara Croymans, Jennifer Garbow, Rosemary Heins, Lori Hendrickson, Rebecca Hagen Jokela, Cindy Petersen, Suzanne Sheridan, Patricia Olson, Claudia Parliament, and Jane Stockman

Congratulations to all the award winners!

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Next week, more than 300 Extension faculty and educators will gather at the annual Program Conference for three days of networking and personal and professional development. During the conference, we will have three keynote presentations that will be videotaped and available for all staff to view following the program conference.

President Kaler will share his vision for the University and how Extension contributes to that vision. I will present the annual state of Extension with an update on budget, priorities and new investments. And, our keynote speaker, Dr. Barbara Chamberlin from New Mexico State University, will address the ways technology is making a difference and changing the way we engage Extension clientele.

Our annual conferences, including Youth and U, Nutrition Education Conference, and Staff Day, all provide valuable opportunities to learn about the research and education, emerging issues and initiatives that are happening in Extension. They continue to be an important investment for Extension.

For all those who will be traveling next week, I wish you safe travels!

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

University of Minnesota Extension is once again experiencing a time of change. Last fall, we were busy preparing for a significant number of retirements. This fall, we are welcoming new colleagues across the organization.

In 2011, the University offered an early retirement option and we said  goodbye to many long-term Extension colleagues and friends. Their early retirements left more than 80 open positions. Due to these many retirements, and because we did not receive a budget decrease in 2012, Extension is filling many new positions. To date, we have filled 35 faculty and staff positions, and hope to fill an additional 30 positions before the end of the year.

One of the first priorities for hiring  was to fill open county-funded positions that counties chose to refill through their contracts with Extension. We then went through a position prioritization process with Extension Center Associate Deans and developed a list of priority positions. We  began hiring in phases to ensure that we are redesigning our programs and positions to meet the changing needs of Minnesota. We are also working closely with our collegiate partners to create new partnerships and shared positions. And, later this fall, we will identify the positions needed to advance our issue areas in educational disparities, community food systems and clean energy. We will continue to identify opportunities to strengthen our programs, as well as our operations. The new regional director team model for operations and administrative leadership is working well and we will be adding a regional director position to support the metro counties.

I will be visiting regional and county offices this fall to meet our new faculty and staff. I look forward to seeing our continued growth in Extension education and research. Thank you for welcoming our new colleagues.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, three of Extension's statewide advisory committees met - the Citizens' Advisory Committee, the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) Extension committee and the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships Boards. After meeting separately in the morning, all three groups met together in the afternoon and discussed statewide issues, met with President Kaler and visited 4-H at the State Fair.

Our county partnerships were well represented in the advisory groups that met last week and I was pleased to report that the county Extension partnership remains strong. Following retirements of county-based staff last year, we immediately posted and hired for all of the positions counties wanted to refill. We are currently working with counties on the 2013 memorandum of agreements (MOA), which outline the Extension positions each county will fund in 2013. More than 50 percent of the counties have already signed and submitted their MOAs. So far counties have either retained their current commitment, or in a few cases, actually increased Extension staffing.

In addition to the advisory committees that met last week, more than 1,000 engaged Minnesotans serve on 87 County Extension Committees as well as regional and program advisory committees. Advisory committees are vital to the land-grant mission of Extension and the University. As the eyes and ears of Minnesota, these advisory committee members help to bridge the resources and needs of the University and communities across Minnesota.

As you work with these volunteers, please join me in thanking them for their service.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this summer, Extension faculty and staff were given an opportunity to provide input into my comprehensive performance review. I want to thank all of you who took the time to reply to the survey. Your collective input was beneficial and reinforces my priorities as dean. Three themes that arose from the review were the need to continue implementing the strategic plan, the importance of recognizing Extension programs, and the value of partnerships.

There was a great deal of support for the strategic plan and many comments about the need to stay focused on implementing the plan across Extension. I agree. A plan is only as good as we make it. I will continue to work with the leadership team to ensure that the strategic plan informs our decisions and is reflected in our priorities.

Some individuals also commented on the benefit of having the dean visit Extension programs across the state. That will continue to be a priority for me. Please continue to send invitations to your programs and events.

And, many of you commented on the importance of partnerships - both within the University and with external partners. Extension's work is built on a solid foundation of partnerships. As the issues we address get more complex, the need for partnerships will only continue to grow.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your feedback about my performance and your suggestions on how I can improve. Performance reviews are a valuable tool for improving the quality of our individual and collective performance.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,


Farmfest 2012 will be held next week near Redwood Falls. The state's largest farm-related gathering, in which Extension has a strong presence, has an emphasis on national and state agricultural and rural policy issues.

Thursday, August 9, is an especially visible day for Extension and the University. The morning forum, Innovation in Agriculture: Opportunities from the University will feature opening comments by Eric Kaler, University of Minnesota president. In the afternoon, families from 76 Minnesota counties will be recognized for their contributions to agriculture, our economy and rural communities.

While farming is a big business in Minnesota, the business of farming in Minnesota is family driven. According to USDA statistics, 95 percent of Minnesota farms are family-owned. In addition to their economic impact, farm families are the main drivers improving the fabric of many rural communities. They are the ones who invest time in making a difference by serving on township boards, hospital boards, school boards and church councils.

Despite all the good they do, farm families often do not receive the recognition they deserve. The University of Minnesota started the Farm Family of the Year program some 30 years ago to recognize successful farm families for their impact on our economy and rural communities. We are proud to lead this effort to recognize the contributions of farm families.

Profiles of the 2012 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University's farm family website.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This week, more than 70 Extension retirees came together in St. Paul for the annual Extension Retiree Luncheon. There was a variety of retirees, from those who retired 30 years or more ago, to those who just retired in the last year. It was quite a celebration. The room was buzzing with conversations about the diversity of projects and hobbies (as well as jobs) our retirees engage in after they retire. We are fortunate to have retired colleagues who are great advocates for Extension and continue to support our shared mission.

I was pleased to assure the retirees that we do have more employees than retirees and we have been hiring new employees to fill many of the positions opened by the recent retirements. During our luncheon, Julie Weisenhorn shared highlights from the Master Gardener program, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

It was a pleasure to meet with our retirees. I hope you have an opportunity to make a connection with your former colleagues as well.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (July 5, 2012)

Dear Colleagues,

This week is the  150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which created the land-grant college system.

Justin Morrill, a Vermont merchant and farmer, believed that every state should have a land-grant college to benefit agriculture and industrial productivity. Like many big new ideas, this idea was not popular at first, but he stuck with it. Eventually, Congress and President Abraham Lincoln shared in his vision. As a result, the Morrill Act creating a land-grant college system became law on July 2, 1862. Their vision and foresight was even more remarkable because they did not live in easy times. When Lincoln signed the Morrill Act on July 2, 1862, our country was divided by the Civil War, the Union Army was in retreat and money was tight.

The University, Extension, and the nation's other 105 land-grant institutions are celebrating this historic milestone this month. Last week, I attended a convocation in Washington D.C. honoring the land-grant system. Speakers addressing the future of land grants included Philanthropist Bill Gates, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

We are also working together to share with the public the many accomplishments of the land-grant system. High-yielding hybrid seed corn, tasty Honeycrisp™ apples and disease-preventing livestock vaccines exist because of the land-grant system. There  are also the quiet success stories that change lives-- the child who learns leadership in a 4-H club, the student who lifts her family out of poverty because of a land-grant college education and the immigrant family that improves its eating habits with help from an Extension nutrition educator.

To learn more, read my Land Grant 150 Op-Ed that was sent to all greater Minnesota news media. And, watch the University's For the Common Good:Land Grant 150 video.

University of Minnesota Extension strives to achieve the vision of Justin Morrill and Abraham Lincoln to create a better future through research, education and outreach. My hope is that the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act inspires us all to share in this same spirit to assure an even brighter future for America.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Summer is always a busy time in Extension. This year, in addition to our summer programming, we have been making office moves to create greater efficiencies and improve work spaces.

On campus, we have been moving units in order to have all of the campus administrative offices together in Coffey Hall. Next week, the Extension Center for Youth Development and the Children, Youth and Families Consortium, will move to the fourth floor of Coffey Hall. Extension Technology, which includes information technology and the RDU has moved to new offices in the Learning and Environmental Sciences building near Coffey Hall. And, the 4-H Foundation and Extension Development offices are now together in the lower level of Coffey Hall.         

We have made changes in our regional offices as well. In May, the University held an open house celebrating the new University presence in Willmar, which includes the Extension regional office. In July, staff in the Crookston Extension regional office will be moving to new offices across the street from the Crookston campus. And, we have begun discussions about improving the facilities at the Cloquet Extension regional office, which is part of the research and outreach center.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This week Extension is participating in a Civil Rights Compliance review.  Periodically, the USDA conducts a review of Extension programs and operations to ensure that federal civil rights laws and regulations are being followed. This involves a comprehensive review of the organization, including policies, procedures and practices across programs and human resources.

I want to thank all the staff and faculty who have supplied reports, gathered data and participated in the interviews with the national review team. In addition to interviewing on the St. Paul campus, the reviewers visited Carlton and Ramsey counties and met with staff in those offices.

As part of the review, program teams and staff are expected to be aware of the demographics of their target audiences and/or the geography in which they work. In addition, program teams and staff should be able to show that reasonable efforts have been made to include participation from communities of color, women, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, and other such groups. The overall goals are to gain participation in proportion to the size of these groups within the target audience and/or target geography to the best extent possible using all reasonable efforts.

The review is a good reminder of our commitment to Minnesota's diverse communities. As a part of the review, I had an opportunity to talk about our work with diverse audiences.  While we have several programs to be proud of, there is always more we can do to meet the needs of Minnesota's diverse populations.

Thank you again to all who assisted in preparing for this review.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,
 
Please join me in congratulating the 2012 recipients of the Dean's staff awards. Award winners were nominated by their Extension supervisors and colleagues. Each has contributed significantly, ensuring that Extension operates efficiently and effectively while meeting the needs of our program participants. 

The following staff members were recognized at the April Extension Staff professional development conference.

Campus Staff Award - Roxy McCann, accountant, Extension Center for Community Vitality
Field Staff Award - Pat Persoon, executive and office administrative specialist, Extension Regional Office, Marshall
Program Staff Award - Lynn Davenport-Hagen, Master Gardener coordinator, Anoka County
Community Nutrition Educator Award - Darci Kvam, community nutrition educator, Sherburne County

Congratulations to each of the award winners.  It is a pleasure to have an opportunity to honor you for your many contributions.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

In the April 5 issue of enews I provided an overview of how Extension will approach key issue area programming.  The issue areas provide another opportunity for Extension to focus resources around issues in which we can have a significant impact; they are not intended to compete with current Extension program priorities.

The three issue areas that have been selected to go through the process are: community food systems, clean energy and bridging the educational achievement gap.

The next step is to convene a planning committee for each issue area that represents the needed content expertise, from across Extension center and collegiate partners, along with evaluation staff

The teams will follow a three-part process to fully examine the issue, the potential for Extension to impact the issue, and a proposed design of the Extension intervention over a multi-year period (e.g., three years). The proposal process will be completed by September, and the fall program conference will provide an opportunity for program faculty and staff to learn more about these issue areas.

A little more about each issue:

Community Food Systems - Robust community food systems can provide Minnesotans access to safe, nutritious, affordable food; address issues of food insecurity and obesity; and generate additional markets for farmers. This issue area builds on Extension's statewide reach and expertise across multiple sectors to organize internally to make a collective impact statewide and beyond.

Clean energy - Farms, small businesses, local governments and households all have ample opportunities to save energy and utilize clean energy. The goal  is to provide education that leads to  informed decision making and behavior change.

Bridging the Educational Achievement Gap - All Minnesotans benefit when educational disparities, which are the current reality for too many Minnesota youth, are narrowed. Working with external partners, Extension can increase the readiness of Minnesota youth to prepare for careers, to compete in the global economy, to lead in a diverse society, and to form a knowledgeable citizenry for Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (April 19, 2012)

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Dear Colleagues,

Extension is a large organization with more than 800 people located across the entire state. So it is quite a commitment of time and money to bring related faculty and staff together during the year. Yet, we know it is a valuable investment to create opportunities to learn new skills, share ideas and strengthen our connections.

Each year, Extension hosts an annual conference for employee groups based on the roles in Extension:

  • Spring Staff Conference for all civil service and bargaining unit staff
  • Fall Community Nutrition Educator Conference
  • Fall Program Conference for faculty and educators
  • Winter Youth and U for 4-H and Youth Development program staff

Next week, nearly 200 staff from across the state will gather at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for the annual Spring Staff Conference. I look forward to meeting with our staff and presenting the annual staff awards.

I also want to announce the dates for the Fall Program Conference. This year it will be held October 8-10 in the Twin Cities. More information will be sent to faculty and educators in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please mark your calendar.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier, I announced that Senior Associate Dean Dick Senese would be leading our effort to identify some of the key issues affecting the quality of life in Minnesota and Extension's role in providing solutions. Dick has been working with the Extension associate deans to ensure that our approach to these issues is clearly focused on impact and uses existing processes, structures and staffing whenever possible.  The issue areas we identify are not intended to compete with current Extension program priorities. They provide another opportunity for Extension to focus resources around issues in which we can have a significant impact.

In April, I will work with the Extension associate deans to identify 2-3 issue areas in which we believe we can have a significant impact. For each of the issue areas, we will form a working group that will include subject matter and evaluation experts and leadership from the Dean's Leadership Council. These groups will work through a three-stage proposal process: 1) context and case statement, 2) Extension's role and niche, and 3) three-year design and implementation plan.  Each stage of the proposals will be reviewed and approved by the Extension deans. The proposal process will be completed in September.

The fall program conference will provide an opportunity for program faculty and staff to learn more about these issue areas.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,
 
Extension recently held its annual compact meeting with Senior Vice President Robert Jones and University budget officers. The University's compact process provides an opportunity for all colleges to annually review goals and objectives with central administration. Through the compact process, the University has invested additional  dollars in college priorities that support the strategic direction of the University. Extension has received over $1 million in recurring money from the University compact process in the last few years.

This year, Extension's compact reports on and outlines the priorities in our strategic plan. We have requested central funding for some of our priority initiatives and positions. The final compact will be posted on the intranet once it has been approved by central administration.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,
 
This week, I had the pleasure of attending Extension's Center for Youth Development annual YOUth and U conference. Youth development faculty and staff from across the state braved the weather to meet in St. Cloud to focus on youth development programs and education.

During their conference, 4-H program coordinators, Extension educators and campus faculty in youth development attended sessions designed to bolster program quality and equip staff with the skills needed to coach volunteers and community partners on how to recognize and improve program quality. They also worked together to identify opportunities in Extension's new Strategic Plan.

As always, the energy level of this group of faculty and staff reflected their passion and commitment to positive youth development.

I am proud of the positive impact our youth programs have throughout Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Extension's academic promotion process was established in 2006 to support and recognize educators for their achievement in six categories: scholarship, education and teaching, program leadership, engagement, program management and service. Eligible educators must apply for and receive academic promotion within a specific time frame.

As of March 1, Extension's academic promotion policy will include an option to request an extension based on qualifying professional and personal life events. This is similar to the policy for University tenure which identifies the professional and personal life events that may give rise to the need to "stop the clock."  For example, bringing a new child into your family, becoming the major caregiver for a family member, experiencing your own serious illness or life change, or major professional reassignment, may meet the criteria for extending an educator's promotion timeline. 

Please review the policy carefully along with the procedures and timeline associated with them. Requests must comply with the timeline and will be reviewed according to the policy. If you have any questions, please consult your Extension Center's associate dean.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

We are making progress redesigning and filling the gaps created with the recent retirements in Extension based on the goals and strategies outlined in Extension's Strategic Plan.  Some examples already in progress in 2012:

  • Our new regional director team is in place with four new staff and new roles for all of the regional directors as they provide leadership for larger geographic regions.
  • Searches are underway for the educator and state faculty positions I approved and announced in December 2011.
  • We are making decisions about support needs and positions based on the changes in the regional offices and the number of staff in the offices.
  • We are moving ahead with changes in Extension leadership, including associate dean positions and the new chief technology officer position.  

In addition, I have asked our new senior associate dean, Dick Senese, to provide leadership for the next step in our staffing plan. He will coordinate multi-disciplinary teams that will research needs that cross our program structure and propose program direction and possible positions to address those needs. Dick will provide more information about next steps in the near future.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the land grant university in the United States. In 1862, the Morrill Act established the land grant university system with a mission to address critical public issues through teaching, research and outreach. Extension, which was established in 1914 under the Smith-Lever Act, is a vital part of the land grant mission and history.

The University will be celebrating this year with a variety of activities and events to explore the University's land grant legacy and future as well as the impact of our campuses, Extension, research and outreach centers and university offices across the state. President Kaler will be hosting forums that explore the 21st century land grant vision.

Extension will join other University campuses and colleges in participating in the state and national discussions about the impact and future of the land grant system. Watch enews for more information throughout the year.

Bev Durgan


Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,

The last year has been one of change for Extension. We will see the results in 2012 and beyond.

Following the retirements of more than 45 faculty and staff, we are all working to adjust to the departures of our colleagues and the resulting changes in work assignments that impact many of us.

In 2012, we will be filling new educator and faculty positions to support our programs, welcoming new regional directors who will be working in an entirely new regional model, and hiring associate deans in youth development and community vitality. We will also be welcoming the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships to Extension and supporting them as they adjust to their new model of working throughout the state.

New people and new models of work bring fresh energy and perspective into an organization. It also creates a great deal of adjustments. I appreciate the extra effort required of all of you as we take advantage of the changes to ensure that we deliver the research-based education that makes a difference in Minnesota.

I look forward to a very productive 2012.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,

Over the last five years, Extension has kept administrative costs to below 10 percent of our annual budget, investing the vast majority of our funds in programs and the positions that create and deliver Extension education and research.

In an effort to continue to build efficiencies and work better together, Extension will be making several office moves on the St. Paul campus during the first quarter of 2012. Faculty and staff in the Extension Center for Youth Development will move from the Minneapolis campus to St. Paul.  With these moves, administration for all Extension centers will now be housed in Coffey Hall, allowing for greater cross-center planning and communications.  In addition, some Extension support units will also be moving to allow for greater efficiencies across units.

In greater Minnesota, Extension will close two regional offices, Hutchinson and Fergus Falls, at the end of 2011.  Educators in those offices will be relocated to other regional Extension offices.  The University has opened a new facility in Willmar and Extension will have a regional office in that location.

All of these changes move us forward in meeting one of the goals of the Extension Strategic Plan, which calls for Extension to operate as an efficient, effective and integrated organization.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,

I want to thank the Strategic Planning committee for the significant commitment in time, energy and ideas they invested to create the Extension Strategic Plan. Following input from across the organization, the plan is final and available on the intranet.

Now, our shared challenge is to work together to implement the goals and strategies outlined in the Strategic Plan. It may be tempting to look at the plan and think we have already achieved the goals and strategies, but I encourage all of us to think critically about our work within and across Extension. Are we truly delivering on the promises and commitments outlined in the Strategic Plan?

Over the next months, we will be making decisions and creating work teams in support of the direction laid out in the plan. One example is outlined in the email I sent earlier this week to all Extension employees about our setting priorities for programs and positions.  If you have not done so, I encourage you to read that email.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,

I want to wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday as you celebrate Thanksgiving and enjoy the University holidays next week. University offices will be closed November 24 and 25.

In addition to the usual holiday and year-end season of events, this year Extension calendars are also filled with retirement celebrations across the state. It has been a pleasure to attend as many of these celebrations as possible in order to honor our departing colleagues for their significant contributions to Extension. It is inspiring to hear the stories as Extension staff and friends gather together to honor and celebrate careers that have made a difference.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holidays and travel safe.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,

The Fall/Winter 2011 issue of Source magazine is hot off the presses and arriving at your offices. Source is also available online and many of the stories will be featured on the Extension and University home pages and social media sites over the next few months.

This issue of Source highlights many ways Extension furthers the tradition and spirit of using research and education to create a better future. Read how Extension educators teach farmers about agroforestry and the benefits of healthier soils, water conservation and increased crop and forest yields. Discover how Extension 4-H prepares youth to excel in college, careers and communities by teaching them life-long skills, including communications, problem solving, decision-making and coping. And learn how Extension joins forces with other state agencies to move the farm to school agenda forward in Minnesota, making locally grown fruits and vegetables available in school lunchrooms across the state.

This issue also features the impact of Extension research on understanding the brain gain in rural Minnesota, planting recommendations for the wet spring, preparing your yard and garden for winter and the launch of Voyageur Skies, by Extension's Don Breneman and Mark Seeley. 

Thanks to everyone involved in the latest issue of Source. I continue to be proud of the many stories we have to tell about Extension's impact in Minnesota. I hope you are as well. Please feel free to use the printer-friendly versions of the story available on the website. Copies of these stories are helpful to include in your program marketing materials and discussions with partners and customers.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,

This week, Extension faculty and educators from across the state met in St. Paul for the annual program conference focused on professional development, program building and organizational networking. During the conference, I gave the annual State of Extension Update. You can view the presentation slides on the intranet.

Also, at the conference, I had the pleasure of giving out the annual dean's awards. Please join me in congratulating the award winners:

Friend of Extension -- Robert Bruininks, President Emeritus University of Minnesota
Campus Faculty - Dr. Ken Ostlie, Extension entomologist
Field Faculty - Bob Olen, Extension educator, St. Louis County
Outstanding Leadership - Lee Raeth, director of field operations
Team - 4-H Aquatics Robotics Team , Joe Courneya, Brian McNeill, Samantha Grant, Patrick Jirik, Cara Miller, Brad Rugg and Pam Larson-Nippolt
Diversity - Toby Spanier, Extension educator, leadership and civic engagement

President Bruininks was traveling and not able to join us this week. However, we did show a video of his acceptance that you can watch on the intranet. His comments about Extension are very inspiring and I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the video. A news release with information about each of the awards winners is on the Extension website.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,

Over the last few weeks, we have announced some changes in Extension regional leadership and operations. My September 1 enews column communicated that Extension's field operations are being redesigned to meet statewide program needs while using fewer administrative positions and resources. And, earlier this week, I sent an email announcing the closing of two regional offices, Hutchinson and Fergus Falls, at the end of the year. 

These decisions, while not easy to make, support a strong statewide Extension system, reducing administrative and operating costs without reducing research and education positions. As I have mentioned many times, Extension administration is committed to keeping operating and administrative costs as low as possible in order to fund faculty and staff positions and the research and educational programs that make a difference in Minnesota. Director of field operations, Lee Raeth, and program leaders are working closely with educators located in the Hutchinson and Fergus Falls offices to relocate them to other regional offices by the end of the year.

The changes in regional operations are closely aligned with the goals and strategies outlined in the Extension Strategic Plan. The plan calls for greater integration of our systems and programs across Extension to enable us to respond quickly and appropriately while building a vital and sustainable "One Extension" organization for the future. I encourage you to read the Strategic Plan and take time to share your responses to the questions on the intranet. Comments collected by September 23 will be compiled and shared in October.

Just as I have asked all employees to review and discuss the opportunities and implications in the Strategic Plan, the leadership team is also having those discussions. Next week, I will be meeting with the center associate deans to discuss program priorities in each center and how these priorities align across Extension. You can expect to hear more from me and the center associate deans in the coming months as we work together to implement the strategies outlined in the plan.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column

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Dear Colleagues,

Extension's field operations leadership will be experiencing a great deal of change in the coming months following the University's Retirement Incentive Option (RIO.) Four regional directors, as well as Director of Field Operations Lee Raeth and Field Operations Outreach Director and AMC Liaison Toni Smith, will all be retiring by January 2012.

Field operations, which includes the management of our regional offices and Extension's relationships with county and local partners, is integral to the success of our programs. Lee, Toni and the regional directors have been working over the last few months to create a new model for running field operations that will meet our statewide program needs and use fewer administrative resources.

The dean's leadership team recently had an opportunity to review the plan for regional leadership, and I am pleased to say that the center associate deans join me in expressing great support for the new regional leadership plan. Under the new model, the state will be divided into five regions and each region will have a field operations leadership team that will be responsible for the regional offices and county and local relationships in that region. The team will be lead by two regional directors and will include program staff who will serve in an advisory leadership capacity for the region. This model will aid Extension in identifying opportunities for efficiencies, partnerships and programs across the regions.

The new field operations leadership team will include 10 regional directors, a director of field operations and the two ROC heads who provide leadership in the Grand Rapids and Morris ROC/Extension offices. We will be posting four open regional director positions this month. I invite you to read the position description and encourage qualified candidates to apply.

I am also pleased to announce that Bob Byrnes, regional director in Marshall and MN-EDEN coordinator, has accepted the position of director of field operations. Bob's office will remain in Marshall and he will assume full responsibilities in January. Maintaining consistent leadership during times of change and transition is vital to the success of our field operations, and I am pleased that Bob has agreed to lend his considerable experience and expertise to our leadership team.

I want to thank the current field operations team for finding new and innovative ways of meeting the demands of Extension's statewide system. I am confident this is a sustainable plan that not only requires fewer positions, but will result in a stronger regional system of leadership.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Following our Blue Ribbon Listening Sessions last spring, I charged an ad hoc committee with drafting a strategic plan that would serve as a blueprint to guide organizational decision-making for the next three-five years. The Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee has completed its work and I am very pleased with the results. The plan is not intended to identify program priorities, but rather to provide a framework for becoming a stronger, more integrated and sustainable organization.

Earlier this week members of the committee met with the Dean's Leadership Council to review the plan and get their feedback. In the next few weeks, I will review the plan with the Extension Leadership Council and the Citizen's Advisory Committee. The plan will be posted on the intranet after Labor Day for all employees to review and share comments.

I want to thank the members of the Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee for drafting a blueprint to build an even stronger Extension. Committee members: Holli Arp, regional director; Jeff Coulter, assistant professor and Extension agronomist; Jodi Dworkin-Strack, associate professor, family social science; Jennifer Garbow, Extension educator, family resource management; Laura Kalambokidis, associate professor, applied economics; Josey Landrieu, assistant professor and educator, program evaluation; Pam Larson-Nippolt, program leader, program evaluation, youth development; Dean Malvick, Extension specialist and associate professor, plant pathology; Nathan Meyer, program leader, environmental education; Ryan Pesch, Extension educator, community economics; Mike Schmitt, senior associate dean; Trisha Sheehan, Extension educator, 4-H youth development; Jennifer Skuza, program leader and Extension professor, youth development; Aimee Viniard-Weideman, assistant dean and communications director; Ben Winchester, research fellow, community vitality.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This week is the 30th annual Farmfest, the state's largest farm-related gathering, in which the University and Extension have a strong presence. President Kaler has taken this opportunity to make his first community visit since becoming president just a month ago. In addition to speaking at Farmfest, his southwestern Minnesota tour included stops in Marshall and Worthington and the university's Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton.

I am pleased that Extension has this opportunity with the President to showcase Extension's education and research at work in Minnesota. As I travel with President Kaler, I continue to be impressed with his passion and commitment to the University.

As he told the audience at Farmfest yesterday, "As president of the University of Minnesota, I want to continue to strengthen and broaden our relationship, aligning what we each do with the best interests of your community and the University."

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This is a time of great change and opportunity for our University community and the communities we work with across Minnesota. The forces of change impacting all of us - demographic shifts, rapid advances in technology, increased competition, limited public and private funding - are here to stay and increase the need to be strategic, adaptive and focused while responding quickly.

In Extension we have yet another force of change impacting our organization. The recent University retirement incentive option (RIO) has resulted in nearly 5 % of our workforce taking retirement by January 2012. While I understand the desire of staff and teams to fill the positions, this collective change in Extension requires that we make strategic decisions about programs and positions. I am working with the Extension deans to look at our needs and opportunities across the organization. Our decisions will also be guided by the strategic planning process currently underway in Extension. 

As I have communicated in earlier issues of enews, Extension is developing a Strategic Plan, a blueprint to guide and integrate our efforts across Extension to respond quickly and appropriately today while building a vital organization for the future. The Strategic Planning committee recently completed its working sessions and is now writing the plan. The committee was charged with developing goals and strategies for Extension. That framework allows all members of the organization an integrated opportunity to be engaged in developing actions to address the strategies and goals.

The Extension leadership team will review the plan with the committee in August and then we will begin sharing the plan with stakeholders and employees for discussion. I want to remind you that this plan is not intended to identify program priorities, but rather to provide a framework for becoming a stronger, more integrated and sustainable organization.

Also in August, we will announce the names of all the faculty and staff who have or are retiring by January 2012. Our policy is to allow the employee and supervisor to make retirement announcements. Given the collective impact of these retirements, we will also do a central announcement in the August 18 issue of enews. 

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Already July is proving to be a big month for the University and Minnesota. On Friday, the University welcomed 16th President Eric Kaler to his first day in office while the state began its first day of a government shutdown. While both of these events may not impact your day-to-day work, both will affect our organization now and into the future.

President Kaler told the Pioneer Press, "The real issue is excellence. And the real issue is increasing the value that we the university bring to the state of Minnesota, to its stakeholders and to our students. Increasing that value, communicating it and demonstrating it, will be the major goal of my presidency." As the statewide outreach arm of the University, Extension can and will continue to play a major role in bringing value to Minnesota and we must join President Kaler in effectively communicating and demonstrating the value of our work. You can learn more about President Kaler on the University website.

This week, we continued to manage funding gaps created by the state shutdown. In addition to our state funding, we receive several grants and federal funding that "pass through" state agencies to Extension, including federal funding for the nutrition education program. During the shutdown we will not receive this funding; however, we are committed to maintaining these positions and educational programming during the shutdown.  I will continue to communicate any impacts of the shutdown in enews.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Please join me in congratulating the following Extension educators who successfully earned academic promotion in 2011: Sara Van Offelen, David Nicolai, Lisa Hinz, Ellen McCann and Grant Crawford. All five were promoted from assistant Extension professor to associate Extension professor. In addition, Colleen Gengler reconfirmed her title as Extension professor.

Promotion is a professional indicator of personal and organizational success. Extension's academic promotion process was established in 2006 to support and recognize educators for their achievement in six categories: scholarship, education and teaching, program leadership, engagement, program management, and service.

Promotion systems that encourage faculty members and educators to actively engage in scholarship and peer review both support and enhance the quality of our educational offerings. I am confident that our promotion systems will continue to increase the credibility of Extension's work within this research university.

My thanks to everyone who participated this year - the applicants, the mentors and the promotion review committees. Applications for the 2012 promotion process will begin later this summer. If you are considering applying for academic promotion, please discuss with your supervisor.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the University of Minnesota offered a retirement incentive package (RIO) to eligible University employees and Extension is offering a retirement incentive package for qualified federal employees (VERA).  These retirement incentives will result in a significant number of retirements in Extension in the next six months, as approximately 5 percent of Extension's workforce will be retiring.

As with all retirements, we are leaving it to the individual to communicate his or her retirement with colleagues. In addition, supervisors will be having discussions within Extension centers to determine the impact on Extension programs.

We have a great history to celebrate over the coming months as individuals retire. I know we will all want to take time to honor the many contributions of our colleagues who have helped build Extension and its many great impacts in Minnesota.

All colleges are being asked to carefully review their plans to fill any positions vacated through the RIO to assure that all positions align with the college's strategic priorities or with health, safety or legal needs. As with any organizational retirement option, the hope is that retirements spurred by the RIO and VERA programs will help ease budget difficulties and will help reduce the need for layoffs, so we will not be filling all vacated positions. At the same time, given the numbers of retirements in Extension, we will need to make strategic investments in positions and programs.  And, as always, we will need to balance priority needs with a fiscal conservancy that is needed in these challenging and uncertain budget times. 

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

There continues to be many conversations about the uncertainty of state and federal budgets. I encourage you to read the University updates from President Bruininks and the government relations staff. In Extension, we continue to work closely at the state and federal level to monitor the discussions and engage when and where appropriate as we wait to see the final impact of state and federal funding decisions.

In the meantime, I have been holding budget meetings with the Extension center associate deans and the administrative units. As we prepare the FY 2012 budget, we will also begin discussions about the impact of the University's voluntary retirement program (RIO) on Extension. I will communicate more about that in a future issue of e-news.

This week, the Extension strategic planning ad hoc committee held the first of six work sessions. This committee has been charged with the task of strategic planning for the Extension organization and will be meeting regularly over the next two months to draft a strategic vision and direction for Extension.

As with all significant times of change, there are challenges and opportunities now and in the future. I am confident that our on-going budget management strategies and the strategic planning process will help us to efficiently manage the challenges while keeping focused on the opportunities. 

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

How we welcome and orient new employees is a vital first step toward helping them build a successful career in Extension. This year, we will begin offering a new employee orientation program to introduce new employees to Extension and provide them with information and tools they need to become a part of the Extension community. This orientation is intended to complement the existing program and position-specific orientation new employees receive from their centers and regional or county offices.  The Extension orientation will be coordinated with the existing University orientation, allowing our faculty and staff to come to campus for one combined orientation experience.

To support new employees, we are creating a section on the Extension intranet to provide specific information focused on the needs of new employees during their first day, week and month. We will also host a moderated online community forum for new employees.

I want to thank the new employees who have taken time to participate in our phone interviews to learn more about new employee experiences and needs. That information will be vital in further developing our coordinated support for new employees.

Please watch for more information on new employee orientation in the coming months. If you have been hired since January 2010, please watch for an invitation to attend the new employee orientation.

Bev Durgan

Extension recently completed its compact process with Senior Vice President Robert Jones and University budget officers.  We have now posted Extension's 2011-2012 Compact on the Extension intranet.

The compact process provides an opportunity for all colleges to annually review goals and objectives with central administration. This process has allowed the University to invest central dollars in college priorities that support the strategic direction of the University. Extension has received over $1 million in recurring money from the University compact process in the last few years. As you can imagine, this year, the University did not ask for funding requests from the colleges. They have asked all colleges to plan for a 5% reduction in their budgets.

In addition to completing the compact, we are also working on developing Extension's Strategic Plan for 2011-2015. Last week we held a very productive work session with the Extension Leadership Council to discuss Extension's strategic future. Now, Extension's leadership will be focusing on the development of a strategic plan that will articulate a vision to our stakeholders and clear direction to our faculty and staff. I will continue to keep you informed of this important work.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

In times of uncertainty and great change, it can be difficult to focus on our programs. And yet, we have all personally and organizationally weathered great change in the past and I am confident that we can and will be successful during these times as well.

Together, we make a difference in Minnesota through the 700,000 participants we work with each year to increase their understanding and skills so they can make good decisions and take action on Minnesota's most pressing issues. We will remain focused on ensuring that our educational programs are relevant, engaged and valued.

As you continue to focus on your work with participants, Extension's leadership continues to focus on ensuring that Extension has the base funding and infrastructure in place to deliver our educational programs. Last week we met with Senior Vice President Robert Jones and the University's chief financial officer to review Extension's FY 2012 compact. Those discussions were helpful in providing additional information that will inform our budget planning. Once Extension's compact is approved, it will be posted on the intranet for all employees to review. Before preparing Extension's FY 2012 budget, I will be meeting with each of the center associate deans and the assistant deans in charge of Extension operational units to review budget proposals for FY 2012. There are many unknowns with state, federal and county funding, so as we plan for various budget reduction scenarios, we will continue to make strategic investment decisions that balance priority needs with a fiscal conservancy that is needed in these uncertain budget times.

We are actively working with our state and federal legislators and their staff to ensure they are informed of the impact of proposed budget cuts on Extension's educational programs. Please review the government relations section of the intranet for more information.

Thank you again for all you do for Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

In the February 17 issue of e-news, I wrote about the University's request for all colleges to engage internal and external stakeholders in a Blue Ribbon process prior to completing strategic planning. Extension has completed its Blue Ribbon Listening Sessions and the report is posted on the intranet. Senior Vice President Robert Jones will provide a summary of this report to the Board of Regents.

We now need to turn our attention to defining Extension's strategic future. There are many ways to approach strategic planning and I want to use this column to briefly outline our process.

I will be convening the Extension Leadership Council (deans, program leaders and regional directors) in April to discuss the future of Extension at the organizational level. This process is not intended to make programmatic or budget decisions, but rather to identify organizational milestones from 2005-2010, identify areas we need to continue to work on, and define new directives. Following this work session with ELC, the Extension executive committee will outline recommendations and priorities for Extension's Strategic Future in a brief direction-setting document. We will then share that draft with our internal and external stakeholder groups for discussion prior to finalizing in June. As with the Blue Ribbon Report, we will also make this document available for employees to review and comment on before finalizing.

This process is not intended to set a new course for Extension, but rather to build on our current course, ensuring that we engage in collective thinking about where Extension is heading and the things we need to pay attention to in order to get there.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last few weeks, there have been many discussions about the Congressional budget and potential reductions to Smith Lever funding which provides the federal funding for Extension in all states, including Minnesota. We have been actively involved in these national discussions and have mobilized our legislative networks to respond to this serious situation. The following outlines Minnesota's efforts and what you can do to support Extension.

We have taken a focused approach to communicating with our Minnesota legislators in Washington. Several Extension employees and external stakeholders (based on their advocacy experience, location in the state, program connection, etc.) have been asked to contact their legislator about the funding issue and express their support for Extension. In addition, I was in Washington D.C. this week meeting with our representatives, senators and their staff and can report that they are supportive of Extension and the University.

The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) has a well organized approach to advocacy for federal funding. As chair of the APLU Budget Advocacy Committee, I continue to be in daily contact with our lobbyists and staff in Washington D.C. about the situation. I invite you to visit the Land-Grant.org website for more information.

Again, our goal is to have a very well coordinated approach as we communicate with state and federal legislators about Extension funding. Thank you to those who have been asked to contact their legislator. For all employees, here are a few ways you can support the national effort:

And as always, if you have been formally invited to testify at a legislative hearing you need prior approval. Please contact Sarah Greening with the following information: committee, agenda topic, date and time. More information and resources are available on the Government Relations section of the intranet.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As the University enters the next phase of its strategic planning process, University leadership has asked all colleges to develop their plan for academic priorities and cost efficiencies for the next 3-5 years. Colleges were encouraged to engage stakeholders, faculty, staff and students through Blue Ribbon Committees prior to completing strategic plans. Because Extension has several existing advisory and consultative committees, Extension leadership held listening sessions with each of these committees to accomplish this important task.

In January, Extension leadership hosted Blue Ribbon listening sessions with its five internal and external advisory committees: Citizen's Advisory Committee, Association of Minnesota Counties - Extension Committee, Extension Faculty Consultative Committee, Extension Civil Service Consultative Committee, and the Minnesota Association of Extension Educators.

The Extension listening sessions were designed for participants to provide input and recommendations on pride and potential, opportunities and challenges, and four critical success factors: sustainable funding, audiences and partners, documenting significance and communicating value, and the Extension workforce. Comments from the listening sessions were captured in a Blue Ribbon Listening Session report that is now available on the intranet for employees to review. In addition, I invite you to share your ideas. An online form is available for you to reply to each of the Blue Ribbon discussion questions. Please respond by February 28. Responses will be included in the final report and Extension's executive committee will use the information to inform the next phase of Extension's strategic planning, which will be completed by July 1, 2011.

Yesterday, I met with the Extension Leadership Council (program leaders, regional directors and Extension deans) to discuss the current budget realities as well as our Blue Ribbon and strategic planning process. During the coming months, our state, federal and county funders will be discussing and eventually making decisions that will impact Extension's funding. We will continue to work closely with them to influence those decisions while preparing for multiple funding scenarios. In the meantime, we will prepare our compact for a March review with University leadership and in April we will hold a strategic planning work session with the Extension Leadership Council.

I will continue to keep you informed. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the Blue Ribbon Listening Session Report and share your ideas.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, Deans Trevor Ames, College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and Al Levine, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and I presented to the House and Senate Agriculture committees on how the Agriculture State Special funds are being used to address Minnesota's needs. 

These are significant committees for Extension and the colleges.  Forty-two percent of Extension's annual budget is funded through the state of Minnesota, and the vast majority of that $28 million comes through Minnesota's Agriculture State Special appropriation. Both CVM and CFANS receive funding through the Agriculture State Special as well. Last year, the state special was cut over 12%. While the University helped to cover some of the financial impact on Extension's budget, doing so may not be possible in the future. Throughout the session, we will continue to work with members of these committees as well as other legislators to communicate the impact of their investment in Extension and research at the University of Minnesota.

Our collective effort to ensure that Extension programs address critical issues, are research-based and have documented outcomes and impacts is vital to sustaining, support and funding for Extension.

Bev Durgan

Minnesota's Legislature is back in session and facing a $6 billion state deficit. Decisions made during this legislative session will have a significant impact on the University and Extension. Legislative relations will be a significant priority for me and the leadership team in the coming months and I want to keep you informed of these important activities.

Last night, the University held its annual Legislative Briefing.  Extension had over 60 staff and citizens from across the state at the University event. To learn more about the information shared last night, please take a few moments to read President Bruinink's budget update and legislative outlook message that was emailed to the University community earlier today.

Following last night's briefing, we hosted Extension Day at the Capitol today for citizen advocates and regional directors. Following an Extension Legislative Briefing this morning, participants went to the capitol to meet with legislators from their districts to ask for support for the University and Extension.  

Next week, Deans Trevor Ames, College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and Al Levine College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and I will present to the House and Senate Agriculture committees on how the Agriculture State Special funds are being used to address Minnesota's needs. This is important to Extension because 42% of Extension's annual budget is funded through the state of Minnesota, and the vast majority of that $28 million comes through Minnesota's Agriculture State Special appropriation. Both CVM and CFANS receive funding through the Agriculture State Special as well.

We have several resources available to support legislative efforts:

  • The About Extension section of the website has been updated and includes links to fact sheets created for use with the legislators. If you talk with your legislator, please refer to the key messages from these fact sheets.  We will add fact sheets as needed throughout the legislative session.
  • The Government Relations section on the Extension intranet has tools on general advocacy; guidelines for meeting with elected representatives; information on how to reinforce Extension's important value to the state; and resources for effective advocacy at the national, state and local level.
  • If you have not done so already, I encourage you to join the University Legislative Network. You will receive updates as well as instructions on how you can support the University during this legislative session.

It is important that all Extension staff continue to support and advocate for Extension and the University.  To help us maintain a collective advocacy effort within Extension, remember to follow our government relations guidelines:

  • If you have been formally invited to testify at a legislative hearing you need prior approval.
    Send the following information to Sarah Greening: committee, agenda topic, date and time
  • If you meet with legislators or staffers, complete this form. The form is automatically routed to Gwen Gmeinder for inclusion in the Extension legislative database. 

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As the University enters phase III of its strategic planning, the provost has asked all colleges to develop and submit their plan for the next 3-5 years. To do this, the provost has encouraged colleges to work with stakeholders, faculty, staff and students to "assist in analyzing and recommending to the dean priorities for continued and new investments as well as cost-saving strategies." Some colleges have appointed Blue Ribbon Committees, and you may have seen some of the Blue Ribbon Committee reports developed by these colleges. In Extension, rather than appointing a separate committee, we will be working with several of our existing advisory and consultative groups to accomplish this important task.

In January, I will be hosting work sessions with Extension's executive committee and several advisory and consultative groups to discuss Extension's future and the critical success factors we will need to focus on in the coming years. We will be meeting with the Citizen's Advisory Committee, Association of Minnesota Counties - Extension Committee, Extension Faculty Consultative Committee, Extension Civil Service Consultative Committee, and Minnesota Association of Extension Educators.

Following these discussions, Extension's executive committee will develop a report that captures highlights from these work sessions and outlines the critical success factors for Extension's future. The report will be made available for employees and stakeholders to review and respond to and we will encourage further organizational discussions about Extension's desired future after employees have had an opportunity to review the report.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (December 17, 2010)

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Dear Colleagues,

As 2010 draws to a close, I want to thank each of you for your work in the past year. Together we have made a difference in Minnesota while increasing visibility and building public support for the University. With more than 500 state advisory committee members, 34,500 volunteers, 700,000 annual program participants and 13 million website visits a year, Extension continues to take University research and education into people's lives, engaging Minnesotans to address many of today's complex problems-water quality, food safety and security, childhood obesity, rural economic development, farm profitability, family finances, youth development, renewable energy and natural disasters just to name a few.

While we will face difficult budget challenges in the coming year, our efforts to focus on core scholarship-based programs will continue to position us to face the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities ahead.

As you know by now, University of Minnesota campuses and offices will be closed during winter break as a cost saving measure. Extension campus offices will be closed according to the University campus closure schedule; regional offices will be closed along with the Twin Cities campus December 24-January 2; and county office hours will be determined by the counties. Comprehensive information about the winter closure and the implications for the various job classifications is available on a Winter Closure website. I encourage you to visit this site for more information. As always, you can contact Extension human resources for assistance as well.

I wish you happy and safe holidays and I look forward to working with you in 2011.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues

Extension's Google migration is nearly complete, with almost all Extension faculty and staff now using the Google calendar and email systems. This week marks the end of UMCal and Outlook as Extension email and calendar systems and welcomes UM Google as our new shared platform. There are a couple of things to note as a wrap-up to this project:

After November 19, Extension technology support will be provided for Google Apps only and will no longer be available for UMCal, Outlook or any other email or calendar systems. After this date, there is no need to continue updating UMCal and you should schedule all meetings directly through Google Calendar.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the Google Migration Survey. We want to know what you think about UM Google Apps and the migration process to help inform and improve future IT initiatives, and to equip you with the tools and resources you need to best utilize Google Apps in your work.

We will continue to include tips and training advice in future issues of Extension enews. You can also contact the Extension IT helpline at 612-624-6700 for continued support for UM Google Apps.

Transitioning your email and calendar systems-tools that you use daily in your work-to a new system is a huge undertaking. Thank you for your help and patience in working together to make this a successful transition.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As you know by now, University of Minnesota campuses and offices will be closed during winter break as a cost-saving measure.  Extension campus offices will be closed according to the University campus closure schedule; regional offices will be closed along with the Twin Cities campus, December 24-January 2; and county office hours will be determined by the counties.

During the winter closure dates, University services and business offices will be closed and only essential services will be open.  The University expects to realize utility savings by turning the heat down in most buildings and achieve labor savings during a time when University activities are already naturally reduced.

Extension, like many University colleges, has faculty and staff in a variety of job classifications.  The impact of the winter closure and other cost-saving measures has slightly different impacts on the various job classifications, so it is important that you understand the impacts for your position.

Extension civil service and bargaining unit staff:  The winter closure dates include unpaid furlough days.  You will not be paid for those dates (reflected in your January 12 paycheck) and you are expected to be out of the office on those dates.  Any exceptions due to the need to perform essential services during this time must be reviewed and approved by your supervisor and appropriate Extension dean.

P&A faculty and staff: Your salary reduction is made through a temporary reduction in pay for FY 2011 so you are not being asked to take unpaid furlough during the closure.  However, you are encouraged to use your personal holiday (see "Personal Holiday" article), vacation and voluntary furlough during the closure. If you do not do this, you are expected to work offsite and work plans for these dates must be reviewed and approved by your supervisor.  All Extension deans will be expected to submit a summary of any work agreements made with staff who intend to work during the closure dates.

Comprehensive information about the winter closure and the implications for the various job classifications is available on a new Winter Closure website.  The site includes a comprehensive Q&A and information and links to sites regarding human resources issues, research implications, grades and more.  I encourage you to visit this site for more information.  As always, you can contact Extension Human Resources for assistance as well.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This week, Extension faculty and educators from across the state met in St. Paul for the annual program conference focused on professional development, program building and organizational networking.

During the conference, I gave the annual State of Extension Update and the presentation slides are available on the employee website. This is my fifth anniversary as dean of Extension and the presentation gave me an opportunity to reflect on the past five years as well as to look ahead to the next five years. You will see that the themes remain consistent: the need for increased accountability; budget strategies that focus on the long-term; making Extension accessible; clear outcomes and impacts of our work; and recruiting and retaining the best Extension professionals by being your employer of choice. I will write more about each of these themes in future enews columns. 

Also, at the conference, I had the pleasure of giving out the annual dean's awards to the following:

Campus Faculty - Dr. Bill Wilcke
Field Faculty - Mike Liepold
Outstanding Leadership - Mary Marczak
Team - Forest Pest First Detector Team: Angela Gupta, Jeffrey Hahn, Dean Herzfeld, Mike Reichenbach, Gary Wyatt, Gary Johnson, Mary Kay Ferguson
Diversity - Urban 4-H Youth Development Team: Becky Carlson, Erica Gates, Jessica Jerney, Maki Kawase, Amie Mondl, Jessica Russo, Kathryn Sharpe, Jennifer Skuza, Joanna Tzenis

The Friend of Extension award was given to the Minnesota Wheat Growers Association and Minnesota Wheat Growers Research and Promotion Council, with special recognition to Dave Torgerson, for their support of research and outreach. Individual members of the association and the council contribute countless volunteer hours to Extension activities at the local and state level and Minnesota Wheat has invested check-off funding to support Extension programming and faculty positions at the University of Minnesota.

Please join me in congratulating the award winners.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Extension and the University recently began a system-wide migration of all faculty, staff and students to Google Apps email and calendaring services. All Extension faculty and staff will be expected to make the move to U of M Google Apps between October 25 and November 12, with all of Extension's migration to Google Apps completed by November 19. After that date, Extension's technology support will be provided for Google Apps only and will no longer be available for UMCal, Outlook or any other email or calendar systems.

While the migration may be a temporary challenge for many of us as we prepare our files for the migration and learn a new email and calendar system, I am pleased to report that I have heard great things from my colleagues in other University colleges who have already made the transition. A few benefits: Google Apps offers Google Chat instant messaging; video and audio conferencing; easy to share calendar access; increased mail storage (from 2GB to 7GB); better mobile device support for email and calendar; and the ability to more easily collaborate on documents with other people at the University.

Several steps are underway to make Extension's transition as smooth as possible. Extension IT and regional office support staff are in the process of migrating to Google Apps by the end of September so they will be able to better support all other Extension staff in their migration. More information about what you need to do to prepare for the migration is covered in a related article in this issue of enews. Information will continue to be updated and available on the Information Technology Google Apps section of the employee website, and a detailed migration schedule based on office location will be posted later this month.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

The University's administrative policy and procedures regarding Individual Conflicts of Interest are in the final stages of review. I encourage all Extension faculty and staff to review and comment on the proposed revisions before the close of the open comment period on September 10.

The first draft was posted in November and following consultation within the University community, this second draft was posted and has been open for comments this summer. Like all Board of Regents policies, including the current Individual Conflict of Interest policy, the new policy will apply to all Extension faculty and staff once it is approved.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

The Minnesota State Fair kicks off next week and once again the University and Extension are participating in Minnesota's Great Get-Together. I am pleased to see that our presence at the State Fair this year represents the many ways we connect with our audiences, from the traditional face-to-face demonstrations to the use of technology to reach people from a distance.

If you happen to be in the Twin Cities during the Fair, I hope you have an opportunity to stop by the fairgrounds and visit the University's building, the 4-H building and the Master Gardener exhibits in the Horticulture building. If not, you can still stay connected through technology.

A few Extension State Fair highlights:

Farm to School will be in the Eco Experience building at State Fair. Stay connected through the Community of a Plate Twitter feed.

Master Gardeners will be giving demonstrations during the 12 days of the fair in the horticulture building. See the schedule for more information.   

Check out 4-H News to see highlights of 4-H media coverage and daily highlights from the Minnesota State Fair as well as happenings across the state. This year we are offering a new feature - the ability to check 4-H competition results during the fair using handheld devices! State Fair Results pages will be updated frequently during the fair.

Follow many other University happenings at the fair at the Discover the U at the Minnesota State Fair website.

I hope you enjoy these last days of summer.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

It is important that Extension take time each year to honor our outstanding employees. Extension's awards are an important way to acknowledge the high quality staff and impactful programs happening throughout the year.

Once again, Extension will be honoring employees with the Distinguished Dean's Awards this fall during the October program conference. These awards include: Field-based Faculty Award, Campus-based Faculty Award, Diversity and Inclusion Award, Team Award, and Outstanding Leadership Award.  In addition to the recognition and plaques, individual award winners will receive a $1,500 stipend; teams will receive a $1,500 stipend for the program budget.   

I am asking program leaders, associate deans and department heads to submit the nominations for these awards, and I would like to encourage all employees to take a moment to review the award information and guidelines and share your nomination ideas with the relevant program leader, department head or associate dean. The nomination deadline is September 15.   

I look forward to seeing this year's nominations and honoring and announcing the winners at the fall program conference.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues

This week, University of Minnesota Extension is hosting the annual mini land grant meeting for Extension and Experiment Station leaders from across the country. This year's conference theme is food and health. Increasing numbers of communities and institutions are actively discussing how the American food system influences human health. The land grant university – the very institution established to meet the needs of the American food system – is well positioned to offer research and practical support. The shared vision for this rapidly growing movement reflects a commitment to vital rural communities, healthy landscapes and people, a robust food culture, and agriculture that is more regionally based and sustainable.

This conference brings together national experts, university research faculty and community partners to discuss novel models and methodologies for meeting public needs associated with improving our food system and, in turn, human health. This is just one of many examples of Minnesota's increasing role in national partnerships that address the complex issues facing our world. Many of you are also increasing your participation in multi-state programming and research as well as serving in leadership positions on national boards and work teams.

Another example of our national leadership was shared this week. Extension's Center for Community Vitality is now directing the NELD program for the 13 north central states. The mission of NELD (National Extension Leadership Development) is to provide current and future Extension leaders with the vision, courage and tools to lead in a changing world. Through this new contract, Community Vitality's success with leadership development programs will benefit other state Extension's as well.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

A world without hunger, and with safe food, is the goal of a new partnership between the University of Minnesota and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Extension is an important part of that partnership.

The U of M and FAO recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the new collaboration to address a range of issues associated with global food security. The FAO's mission--to create a world without hunger--includes a mandate to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations, and contribute to the growth of the world economy.

The agreement provides a framework for the University and FAO to work together to alleviate hunger through the application of e-learning, Extension and capacity-building programs.  Specifically, the MOU outlines collaboration in the areas of animal and veterinary science, human health, plant health, fish health, food safety, food science, nutrition, communications, and distance education, including e-learning.

In addition to Extension, the partnership will involve the research and expertise of the University's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; School of Public Health; College of Veterinary Medicine; College of Biological Sciences; Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; and Office of International Programs.

This is another exciting partnership for Extension and demonstrates the important value of Extension in addressing local, national and global issues.

I want to thank the Extension staff who worked with me and Senior Associate Dean Mike Schmitt during the discussions and presentations with the University and FAO.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Lately, most of my columns have been about the budget - and I am sure many future columns will cover budget news as well. But today I want to write about our programs. While Extension never really has a lull in its work, summer tends to be an especially busy time of year for us. From field days to county fairs to professional seminars, a lot of hands-on programming happens during the summer months.

While it is sometimes easy to get caught up in the fears and concerns about future funding, we need to remember that the most important thing we can do today is continue to create and deliver the trusted education and information our customers count on to make their lives better. Thanks to Extension, this summer, producers will learn new ways to manage their crops, adults will learn how to develop positive youth programs for kids, families will learn how to eat healthier, woodland owners will work with us to address the ecological and economic impact of emerald ash borer, communities will use our research reports to make better decisions ... and the list goes on.

If we stay focused on the impacts Extension can have in Minnesota through our research and education, we will make a difference. When we make a difference and address the critical issues that Extension's state, county and federal stakeholders need us to address, we are making ourselves relevant and vital for the future, even during difficult budget years.

I look forward to hearing about your programs and their impacts this summer.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that the University of Minnesota's Children, Youth and Family Consortium will be joining Extension on July 1. The mission of the CYF Consortium is very complementary to Extension's mission and will enhance the work we do with children, youth and families. The CYF mission: to build the capacity of the University and Minnesota communities to use research, inform policy and enhance practice to improve the well-being of Minnesota's children, youth and families.

The CYF staff will work closely with Extension centers for youth development and family development. Their offices will remain in the McNamara Center where they already share part of the second floor with the Extension Center for Youth Development.

Please join me in welcoming the Children, Youth and Family Consortium staff to Extension.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

During the last two weeks I have been meeting with members of the dean's leadership team to review FY 2011 budget requests. In preparation for these meetings, I asked each of them to identify savings from the current fiscal year and to prepare a request for next fiscal year that is a 3% reduction from this year's budget. Thanks to your fiscally responsible spending, we will be able to retain savings from the current fiscal year to cover the extra organization-wide expense of the 27th pay period in FY11. In addition, thanks to the work of each of the centers and administrative units, the FY11 budget has been reduced by 3%.

In the coming year, I expect that all of us will feel some pinch from the 3% budget reduction as we continue to hold on filling many open positions and look for ways to reduce spending. I also expect that the pain of reductions is going to get worse in the coming years before it gets better. While I cannot predict what will happen in FY 2012, I do know that we must prepare for significant reductions from our main funding sources. We know that the state will begin next year's legislative session with at least a $2 billion deficit that will impact the University and Extension. This will require us to be even more strategic in deciding what programs are core to the mission of Extension and the University so we can continue to support that work during challenging financial times.

In the coming year, I will be working closely with the dean's leadership team to review our current programs and better define core Extension programming. In addition, we must continue to look for alternative sources of funding.

The coming years will not be easy, but I am confident that we can weather this storm if we are willing to stay focused on delivering programs with significant impacts, seek new funding, and make strategic decisions about core Extension programs.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, Extension has continued to reduce costs in light of the continuing economic challenges at the local, national and global levels. In the past few years, we have reduced administrative costs by closing two regional offices, consolidating several functions in administrative units and delaying or not filling some positions--including faculty, P&A, bargaining unit and civil service positions--following a departure. Extension will also have savings from the University-wide furlough and temporary salary reduction plans.

Discussions about these mandatory University cost-saving efforts have raised questions about voluntary furloughs as well. I want to use today's column to answer these questions for all Extension employees.

Under the University's plan, all employees can request up to 7 days of voluntary furlough. All requests for voluntary furlough should be discussed with your supervisor. A University request form will be available in the next few weeks. In addition, University employees are eligible to request a reduction in their current appointment based on the options available for their employee group--faculty, P&A, civil service and civil service bargaining unit. Options for voluntary reduction are available for each employee group, however, the programs vary.

Faculty, P&A, and civil service employees are eligible for the University's RECESS program which allows employees to reduce their work effort to as low as 50%, while still receiving the same University contribution toward medical and dental benefits that they had prior to the reduction. Employees represented by the Teamsters, the AFSCME 3800 (clerical) and AFSCME 3937 (technical) unions, should review their specific governing documents for information on the program that is available to them.  Employees with federal benefits should contact Kathy Murphy, federal benefits coordinator, at kam@umn.edu to determine the effect a reduction in time would have on their employer contribution to medical benefits.

In addition, employees can request voluntary leaves without pay, voluntary layoffs (CS/BU employees) and voluntary non-renewals (P&A). Tenured faculty also have an option of requesting a phased retirement.

All requests should be made directly to supervisors for review. Please keep in mind that there is no guarantee a request will be granted. In addition to considering the preferences of the employee, we will also need to take into account the impact on Extension programs and the employee's unit. For more information about any of these programs, please contact Leslee Mason at lam@umn.edu or JoAnn Hardy at jeh@umn.edu in Extension Human Resources.

And, in response to another common question related to voluntary furloughs and reductions: All savings from voluntary reductions will be retained in the central Extension budget and not in the Center or program budgets.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

I know there are many questions about the University's new compensation plan and how it will impact employees. I encourage you to read the information that the University is continuing to update on the University's human resources website. Specific Q&As are available for:

- Temporary Reduction in Pay (TRP) Q&A (applies to faculty and P&A employees)

- University Closure Q&A (applies to all faculty and staff)

- Mandatory Furlough Q&A (applies to Civil Service and Bargaining Unit (CSBU) staff only)

- Voluntary Furlough Q&A (applies to faculty, P&A or CSBU employee wishing to take voluntary furlough days)

- 27th Pay Period Q&A (applies to all faculty and staff)

There are also questions specific to Extension that are not addressed in the University website. Answers to those Frequently Asked Questions  (FAQs) can be found on the dean's section of the employee website. Please continue to submit your questions and ideas through the website, so we can add additional FAQs as needed.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

With 3 months left in our fiscal year, Extension and the University are preparing budgets for FY 2011 (July 1, 2010--June 30, 2011). As you may imagine, this is one of the most complex budget processes I have been involved in since I started managing collegiate budgets over 15 years ago. Yet, I want to ensure you that our budget principles will continue to guide our decision-making. People continue to be my priority in budget decisions because Extension's programs are the result of people, not buildings.

While we do not yet have all the answers about the FY 2011 budget, we are moving ahead with what we do know. Extension will need to address the following in the FY 2011 budget:

- 2.75% decrease from the University to all units
- 2% salary increase for all employees
- Fringe rate increase for all employees
- Cost pool increase (a formula-based fee that all units pay for central University services)
- Employee furloughs/decrease in salary--depending on the job classification
- 27th pay period
- County memorandum of agreement (MOA) rate

Each of these items has a cost associated with it that we must absorb in our FY 2011 budget. We will be doing this through a combined strategy that includes a 3% reduction to all Extension units, using some of Extension's reserves, expected increases in ICR (indirect cost recovery from grants) and savings from furloughs and salary reductions. This is outlined in more detail in the March 2010 Budget Presentation I shared with Extension's leadership team yesterday.

In addition, there are several questions about the University's decisions on salaries and furloughs for FY 2011. This is what we do know:

Employee Salary Increases

- Civil service and bargaining units will receive increases beginning with the first pay period of the new fiscal year.
- Faculty and academic professional and administrative (P&A) employees will receive a 2% increase based on merit. This will begin on January 1, 2011.

Employee Furloughs and Salary Reductions

- All civil service staff will have a 3 day furlough over the holiday period between Christmas and New Years.
- Faculty and academic professional and administrative (P&A) employees will receive a 1.15% salary reduction beginning on the first pay period of FY 2011.

Extension-County MOA

- In 2010, Extension did not increase the MOA rate.
- In 2011, Extension will not increase the MOA rate and will use the furlough savings to cover the costs.

All Extension Centers and units are now in the process of preparing their FY 2011 budgets, which I will review in May. In the meantime, I ask all Extension staff to:

- Align your budgets to organizational priorities
- Define the scope of your work, focusing on your "core programs"
- Continue to look for new sources of revenue
- Increase cost efficiencies
- Ensure that your programs have measurable impacts

Please continue to watch Extension and the Economy for information about Extension's budget and links to University information and resources. This week, in addition to posting the budget powerpoint, we have posted my budget memo to associate deans as well as a recent memo with more information on the MOA discussions and decisions. We will be updating the question and answer section in the next few weeks, so please use the website to submit your questions and ideas.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As flood conditions continue to escalate across the state, I want to make sure that all faculty and staff are aware of Extension's role in disaster response and the educational resources available from Extension.

Extension's role during disasters is to respond rapidly with research-based information people can use in making decisions. Extension has a coordinated system of online and phone answer resources available for those with flood-related questions, both during a flood emergency and while recovery efforts are underway. Citizens and staff can access the most up-to-date information on flood response, safety and cleanup issues by visiting Extension's flood impacts website, www.extension.umn.edu/Flood, or calling Extension's toll free phone services, the Flood (a.k.a. Farm) Information Line (1-800-232-9077) and the AnswerLine (1-800-854-1678).

All of Extension's efforts are coordinated by our disaster response team, led by Bob Byrnes. If you have ideas for flood-related programs, educational resources, community response or communications, please contact Bob or a member of the disaster response team before initiating your flood response effort. We must ensure that our efforts are not only coordinated within Extension, but also with our many partners across the state. During times of crisis in our communities, we must remember that Extension's role is focused on education. Extension is not the community disaster coordinator, first-responder or social service agency. We must support our many partnering agencies as they serve these roles.

I appreciate the work of the disaster response team and the many faculty and staff who have worked with them to provide timely and accurate information through our website, publications and phone lines.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

All University units, including Extension, will be submitting their 2010 budget and compact to University administration. The compact and budget process provides an opportunity for all units to review goals and objectives with central administration. This process has allowed the University to invest central dollars in college priorities that support the strategic direction of the University. Extension has received over $1 million in recurring money from the University compact process in the last few years.

This year, central administration has asked each college to include the following information in their compact. I will be asking the Extension associate deans to answer the same questions for each of the Extension centers.

A summary of actions and steps taken to address your unit's strengths and challenges identified in last year's process.

A list of priority activities in which there should be additional investment as a means of promoting the University's overall strategic goals.

A list of low priority activities eliminated or scaled-back, cost savings initiatives completed, and productivity gains accomplished that were identified in last year's process, including dollar estimates.

A brief description of the consultation process used to provide recommendations for decision making, whether by establishment of a Blue Ribbon Committee or other mechanism, and a list of major stakeholder groups consulted.

An overview of plans to:

Expand sources and amount of revenue produced.

Increase administrative and academic effectiveness, reduce costs and boost efficiencies.

Sharpen the unit's mission to advance a distinctive constellation of excellent programs, research, scholarship and engagement.

Develop and execute multi-year financial plans that advance the vision and discipline of the unit.

I submitted Extension's 2010-2011 compact earlier this week and tomorrow will meet with Senior Vice President Robert Jones and budget officers to review. Once central administration's compact process is completed, I will make the 2010 Extension compact and budget planning materials available for all staff to review.

In addition, last week, the President's office began to consult with the University community on a proposed plan for compensation options, including the question of pay increases and furloughs. You will continue to hear more about these options as the president intends to bring the proposal to the University Senate in March and to the Board of Regents in May. Once decisions are final, we will work with all of our staff to implement the decisions and address any questions.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (February 18, 2010)

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Dear Colleagues

Last week, I held a webinar for Extension's leadership team (associate deans, program leaders, regional directors) on the budget. This column summarizes that webinar and the budget PowerPoint is available on the Employee website.

Extension's current 2009-10 fiscal year budget is $65M, which is $1.3 M less than last year. Extension's funding comes from federal (16%), state (44%) and county (21%) governments, as well as from program fees, grants and gifts (19%).

This year, as the state faces a nearly $2 billion deficit, the amount of decrease to the University has been limited to $36M by the federal stimulus funds. However, in the coming years, as the deficit is expected to balloon to $5 billion, there is no limit to the amount of budget reductions the University could receive. This year, our county partners made minor reductions, and a few increases, in their 2010 Extension budgets, resulting in a net decrease of 4.55 FTE positions. In the next few years, we expect counties will have even greater budget deficits as the state deals with its deficit. There is some good news for Extension in the federal budget as the formula funds are remaining flat rather than decreasing and the competitive grants that Extension can apply for are expected to increase.

Extension, like all University units, is preparing budgets scenarios for a variety of situations outlined by the University, including a 2.75% decrease to all units, possible salary increases, possible furloughs, cost pool increases and fringe rate increases. There have been a lot of questions regarding the possibility of salary increases and furloughs. I continue to work closely with the deans and University administration as these decisions are being made. Once the decisions are final, I assure you that Extension human resources and others will be prepared to work with all Extension employee groups to implement the decisions and address your questions and concerns.

In the meantime, in Extension we will continue to align our budget with organizational priorities, work together to further define the scope of our work, enhance revenues that are aligned with our core programs and increase cost efficiencies. We also must continue to work to ensure that the stakeholders who fund Extension see Extension as vital and necessary for the future.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This week Extension launched a new and improved home page and web design that offers better navigation and clear alignment with the University brand. The new home page has a new design that all web pages will soon be using.

This launch is an important step toward our goal of developing one Extension website for the public to have a single source for finding and accessing Extension content, information and resources on the web.

Extension's web team is working with Extension center staff and program teams to review and update all of the content on our website, including the many independent websites created by Extension staff and program teams over the years.  I appreciate all your efforts to work with them to ensure that Extension has the most timely, relevant and research-based information available to our customers on our website.

I also invite you to spend some time on the youth development section of the website to see the results of an extensive center-wide redesign, which served as a pilot project for the web this year. Youth development and Extension IT and communications staff identified the key audiences, and performed an exhaustive review of all content on all youth development websites. They redesigned all of the information based on the needs of the audience as learned through focus groups, surveying and user testing.

Thanks to everyone who helped us accomplish this important step in the evolution of our website. We have a great deal of work ahead to update, organize and maintain a strong and relevant website and I appreciate your commitment to making that happen.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Every year, Extension provides an accountability report to our federal partners. We are responsible to our federal funders for demonstrating that their investment in Minnesota results in clear and measurable impacts. As the federal funding continues to shift from formula funds to competitive grants, the information gathered in our federal accountability report will be even more important for our future.

Federal dollars are vital for funding the Extension positions and infrastructure that allow us to deliver quality research-based education programs throughout Minnesota. In fact, 16 percent ($10.3M) of Extension's annual budget is from federal legislation. An additional 13 percent ($8.6M) is from a federal grant that supports the food stamp/nutrition education programs.

The federal reviewers of last year's report commented, "We were particularly pleased to see some precise outcomes were included that show how University of Minnesota is poised to make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans." However, the reviewers' comments also highlighted the need for Extension to continue to improve our ability to clearly identify the issues our programs address while tracking our impacts. I ask that all of you continue to work with your evaluation specialists to plan for and evaluate program impacts so we continue to have impact-based accomplishments to report.

In the next month, Joyce Hoelting and Jenny Obst will compile the combined Extension and Experiment Station report for 2009. Thank you in advance for your program outcomes and for working with Joyce to ensure that we are able to capture that information in our accountability reports.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you had a chance to enjoy the holiday break and are ready for a happy and healthy new year.

As we move into the new decade, we face new challenges and opportunities. In the coming year, the Extension Dean's Leadership team will be working with all of you to find opportunities to access new sources of revenue and new partnerships to achieve even greater impacts for Minnesota.

As the competition for public and private funding grows, we must also be diligent in reviewing our programs and initiatives to ensure that they address critical issues and result in a measurable difference in Minnesota. No public entity can afford to offer programs that are nice and interesting but without significant impact and value.

This year, as we closely monitor the state, federal and University budget situations, I am committed to keeping you informed about the budget issues and identifying opportunities to get your feedback and ideas. I will be holding regular UMConnect discussions with the Extension Leadership Council (Extension deans, program leaders and regional directors) in order to keep these Extension leaders well informed and engaged in any planning that we will need to do in the coming year. I want to hear from you as well. 

Bev Durgan

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

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

Dear Colleagues

 

We are less than three months from the start of the next Minnesota legislative session and a lot of work is underway to prepare. Since this is the second year of the biennium, it is a bonding year and the University has a slate of bonding projects. 

 

Even though this is a bonding year and Extension does not have a project in the University's capital request, I anticipate this will be a busy session for Extension due to the current budget realities. The University and Extension are not out of the woods regarding the 2010 budget--we could still see cuts to the University budget in 2010, driven by an anticipated drop in state revenue beyond what was predicted when the FY 2010-11 budget was put together. We will be keeping a watchful eye on the November budget forecast, which will come out on December 2. 

 

This is why it is vital that all Extension staff continue to do their part in supporting the University during this legislative session:

 

·         Meet with your elected officials, find out what they are interested in, and reinforce Extension's important value to the state by providing Extension information and resources that relate to their needs and interests. 

 

·         We will continue to track all legislative meetings. So if you have meetings with legislators or staffers, please send an e-mail, with a brief description of the meeting, to Gwen Gmeinder so that we can keep our database up-to-date.

 

·         Join the University's Legislative Network.  It's an easy way to get involved and follow what is happening at the legislature with regard to the University.

 

·         If you are asked to formally testify at the capitol on behalf of the University, please contact Sarah Greening prior to the hearing so that she can keep others at the University informed of these opportunities. 

 

Thank you in advance for your support of Extension and the University during this legislative session.

 

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As the state, the University and Extension continue to carefully manage our budgets through these challenging economic times, it is important to make strategic investments when possible and necessary.

Extension, like the rest of the University has been honoring the hiring pause President Bruininks announced last fall and we have not filled several positions identified in Extension center and administrative unit budgets. After closing the 2008-09 fiscal year, I determined that we could fill a few positions and I asked the all Extension deans to submit proposals for strategic positions. The dean's leadership council met in October to review all of the requests and discuss budget and priority positions. 

Following those discussions, we will be posting and filling the following positions this fall/winter:

·         Sponsored project account specialist

·         Community leadership development specialist

·         Extension Educator, Leadership and Civic Engagement

In addition, we are in the process of filling three tenure track faculty positions requested and funded specifically by the state to address agriculture issues:

·         Extension specialist, cropping systems - organic systems, Lamberton

·         Extension specialist, organic dairy production, Morris

·         Extension specialist, beef production systems, Grand Rapids

I will continue to meet with the dean's leadership team to review priority needs and we will work together to determine the priority investments that we need to make while continuing to be fiscally conservative in our spending and financial commitments.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, more than 300 Extension faculty and educators met in St. Paul for the annual program conference focused on professional development, program building and organizational networking.

During the conference, I gave the annual State of Extension Update. The presentation slides are available on the employee website. As you review the slides, you will see that we have made progress toward the three organizational goals announced at last year's conference: recruiting and retaining the best faculty and staff; making the U more accessible with technology; and ensuring that programs have clear outcomes and impacts. While we have a lot of work ahead of us before we can claim that we have accomplished these goals, I am pleased with the progress we have made in the last year.

I also reported on the state of Extension's budget, much of which has been reviewed in previous dean's columns. While we will continue to be conservative in managing for potential budget unallotments, we will also be making some strategic investments in programs and positions.

Also, at the conference, I had the pleasure of giving out the annual Dean's Distinguished awards to the following:

·         Friend of Extension - Representative Al Juhnke

·         Campus Faculty - Jim Linn

·         Field Faculty - Barbara Piehl

·         Outstanding Leadership - Jeff Gunsolus

·         Team - Extension Beef Team

·         Diversity - Horizons Program Team

Please join me in congratulating the award winners.

Bev Durgan  

Dear Colleagues,

As you have seen from recent communications, the University and Extension have been actively preparing for H1N1. While we are fortunate that the impact of H1N1 has been relatively mild to date, it is a situation that can change rapidly and unexpectedly. 

It is important that all employees continue to read the University's H1N1 messages and information provided on the official University H1N1 website.

As we have communicated in the past, employees who have flu-like symptoms are encouraged to stay home while sick. All of us need to practice good hygiene by washing hands often with soap and warm water and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, arm or sleeve. Managers and supervisors should consult with Extension HR before making any decisions relating to H1N1, including office closings or changes to tracking employee leaves of absence.  

I want to thank you in advance for your help with this effort.  Careful preparations and effective communication are key to minimizing disruptions to our program participants and staff.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

While it was not surprising that the Great Minnesota Get-Together provided an environment for the H1N1 virus to make an appearance, we certainly were not planning on it impacting our 4-Hers the way that it did.  As you may have heard, due to an outbreak of H1N1 virus, 4-H ambassadors and Arts-In performers were sent home early from the State Fair to limit the spread of influenza.
 
Working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health, 4-H State Fair staff learned of the H1N1 diagnosis around 11:30 p.m. and worked overnight to have a plan in place by 6 a.m. the next morning as 4-H youth were arising for the day. A timely joint news conference that morning with the Department of Health, the State Fair and Extension 4-H resulted in many positive news stories about the partners working together quickly to keep 4-H youth safe.
 
I want to thank all of the staff, volunteers and youth who responded so quickly to the situation. Under the leadership of Brad Rugg and Dorothy McCargo Freeman the situation was handled calmly and with a clear focus on our commitment to keeping the 4-H youth safe and healthy.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (Centennial)

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Dear Colleagues,

Today, more than 300 Extension retirees, partners, donors and friends joined Extension leaders and Extension's Citizens Advisory Committee members at the State Fair in celebration of our 100 years of making Minnesota a better place to live, work and play. Our history is certainly something we can all be proud of as we continue to build new partnerships and discoveries for the next 100 years.

In honor of the Centennial, several counties submitted Centennial exhibits that are on display in the 4-H building during the Fair. Included in our history: 

  • The county election sheet and documents from the 1914 election to fund an Extension agent in Chippewa County. The vote was overwhelmingly "nay," but Extension began work in that county five years later. 
  • In the 1970s, Murray County staff found old negatives and had no idea what they were. Turns out these are fantastic shots of Extension in action in the 1930s-40s: mattress making for rural families, an early 4-H club tour and Extension education for farmers.
  • From Watonwan County, a dress made as a 4-H project in 1933 (for 97 cents!) and worn by the State Fair Queen. According to the plaque and article included with the submission, this was a Grand Champion project.
  • From Winona County, a poster about 4-H participant Vida Haake, including a handwritten letter asking to be a 4-H member, her cake club project documents, a letter about her winning project, and details about her experiences with 4-H.

Photos of all the exhibits will be available on the Centennial website after the fair.

And if you are looking for still more Extension history, you can stop by McGrath Library through the end of September to see the Extension history exhibit created by University librarian Kristen Mastel. The display includes a sampling of publications Extension has produced over the years, including topics like victory gardens, bed bugs, leadership in the community, food choices, rural youth engagement, beekeeping and more. The display also includes a flashback of Extension's website over the past decade and a half. 

Thanks to all of you for helping to honor Extension's rich history.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Next week marks the start of another Minnesota State Fair and once again the University and Extension will be very visible at Minnesota's Great Get-Together. If you happen to be in the Twin Cities during the fair, I hope you have an opportunity to stop by the University's building, the 4-H building and the Master Gardener exhibits in the Horticulture building. All provide fun and engaging examples of Extension in action.

During the fair, we are also honoring our Centennial with an Extension history exhibit as well as photos and memorabilia submitted by Minnesotans in the special Extension Centennial 4-H project. All will be on display in the 4-H building.

I will also be hosting a Centennial reception for Extension's retirees, donors and stakeholders during the State Fair. If you happen to be at the fair on September 3, from 1-3, feel free to stop in the 4-H building to add your thanks to the many people who have been a part of Extension's history.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

The past year has been a challenging one for the state's livestock sector, with dairy and hog producers being especially hard hit. In response, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is establishing a new network of services to help farmers who are having financial difficulties. Extension will be working closely with MDA and other partners to coordinate the new Minnesota Farmer Assistance Network (MFAN) to provide mentoring, technical assistance and financial guidance to farm families facing economic hardship. 

Extension offers a variety of programming to assist during these difficult economic times. In addition to the work of our agriculture faculty in assisting producers and the agriculture industry, community vitality faculty are assisting rural communities and their leaders in making wise decisions during tough economic times. Family development faculty have created resources for families who are experiencing, avoiding or recovering from tough times. A variety of family financial management tools are available on the Extension website.

I want to thank all of our staff for your work in helping Minnesota families, communities, producers and organizations respond to the current economic challenges.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues

Once again, Extension will be honoring employees with the Distinguished Dean's Awards that will be presented at the October program conference. These awards include: Field-based Faculty Award, Campus-based Faculty Award, Diversity and Inclusion Award, Team Award, and Outstanding Leadership Award.  In addition to the recognition and plaques, individual award winners will receive a $1,500 stipend; teams will receive a $1,500 stipend for the program budget.   

In an effort to increase the pool of nominations, the nomination process will change slightly this year.  Nominations will be submitted to the Dean's Office by program leaders, department heads and associate deans. Please feel free to provide input and recommendations on nominations to program leaders and associate deans. The nomination deadline is September 14.   

It is important that Extension take time each year to honor our outstanding employees. I look forward to seeing this year's nominations. In addition, please note that the Minnesota Association of Extension Educators is also seeking nominations for the annual MAEE awards. See the article below for more information about those awards.  

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

In August we will be changing the publication schedule for this employee newsletter, Extension Weekly. Rather than a weekly publication, the employee newsletter will be published twice a month on the first and third Thursdays. The newsletter will maintain its role as the official news source for Extension employees and will continue to provide employees with relevant and timely information from Extension administration. Critical or urgent news that needs to be communicated sooner than the next issue allows will be delivered to affected employees between the scheduled publication dates.

As a result of the change in the publication schedule, the newsletter will no longer be called Extension Weekly.  Instead, it will be called Extension e-news. Critical or urgent news broadcasts that cannot wait until the next production date will be sent under the name Extension Update

This change in production schedule allows us to respond to the decrease in administrative and communications staff while still maintaining a consistent communication schedule between Extension administration and employees. If you have questions or concerns about this change, please feel free to share those with me and Aimee Viniard-Weideman, assistant dean for communications.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

It's county fair season in Minnesota. After spending the morning at the Scott County fair earlier this week with President Bob Bruininks, Regent Dallas Bohnsack, and Gopher football coach Tim Brewster, I've been thinking about the unique opportunity county fairs provide for Extension to connect with some of our many stakeholders and audiences.

Our invitation to the Scott County fair included a breakfast for community leaders from across the county. Sitting in the heart of the fairgrounds with Scott County Extension staff and community leaders, provided a great opportunity to hear about and see the impact the University and Extension have had on Minnesota.  After the breakfast and a visit to the county office, we took a few minutes to watch the 4-H rabbit judging. Seeing those nervous and excited young people reminded me of the skills and confidence my nieces and nephews have gained in their years of learning and growing with 4-H in Montana.

Today, unlike in years past, not as many of our staff are involved in the Extension and 4-H programs at county fairs. For those who are, thank you! For those who are not, consider visiting a fair in your area to see an example of Extension in action. From the 4-H youth who are demonstrating the knowledge and skills they have gained over the last year, to the Master Gardeners giving tours of teaching gardens, there is a lot we can all be proud of at the county fairs.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Please join me in congratulating the 73 families from around the state, one from each participating county, that have been named a "2009 Farm Family of the Year" by the University of Minnesota.

While there is no standard definition of a farm family, the one factor they all have in common is that the families work together to make their farm successful. Families receiving honors were selected by their local county Extension committees and have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture and agriculture production. The University and Extension are proud to recognize these farm families for their contribution to agriculture and their communities.

The families will be officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, August 6 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Profiles of the 2009 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University's farm family website.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As we have discussed, one of Extension's budget principles is to keep the cost of operations as low as possible in order to maintain as many employee positions as possible. In keeping with this principle, we have discussed the merging/closing of some regional offices. Now that we have received our budget reductions and unallotments, it is time to make the decision on the number and locations of our regional offices. 

After receiving input from Extension leadership, and in consultation with Senior Vice President Robert Jones, I have decided to close the regional offices in Albert Lea and Mora. The Albert Lea office will be closing on September 30, and the Mora office will be closing on December 30. Lee Raeth, director of field operations, has been working with program leaders to reassign staff in the Albert Lea and Mora offices to other regional offices. Closing these smaller Extension offices will allow us to reduce operation costs while maintaining the educator positions. If you have questions about these office closings, please feel free to contact me.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This year marks Extension's Centennial, and we are proud of our 100-year history.    Throughout the year, many of you have taken advantage of the Centennial stories, photos, quiz and other communications pieces available on the Centennial website.

Last week we announced an opportunity for Minnesotans of all ages to join us in celebrating our shared history by submitting photos and memorabilia to a special Extension Centennial 4-H project. I invite all Extension employees and program teams to consider submitting photos or memorabilia that reflect our shared history and contributions to Minnesota over the past 100 years. Exhibits will be displayed at the State Fair in the 4-H building, so be sure to stop by and see them during the fair.

I will also be hosting a Centennial reception for Extension's retirees, donors and stakeholders during the State Fair.  If you happen to be at the fair on September 3, from 1-3 p.m., feel free to stop by the 4-H building to thank the many people who have been a part of Extension's history.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

As you may recall, last year before the national and state budget issues surfaced, I said I would like to hold an all-Extension conference in honor of our Centennial year. Given the current budget realities and the significant expense required to bring our 800+ employees together, the Extension leadership team and I have decided we will not hold an all-Extension conference this year. In the meantime, we have and will continue to support program related conferences such as the Youth and U conference, Extension center meetings for educators and faculty, and the Extension Staff Consultative Committee annual conference.

The next few years are expected to be even more financially challenging. However, Extension has the opportunity to survive and thrive during these times if we focus and align our priorities as an organization. At last year's program conference, I reported that if Extension is to grow and succeed in the future, we must focus on the following priorities:

  • becoming an employer of choice to recruit and retain the best faculty and staff
  • becoming a leader in the use of educational technology to expand the reach of the University
  • becoming a leader in program evaluation to ensure that all programs have clear outcomes and impacts

While we have made progress in these areas in the last year, these priorities require ongoing attention from throughout the organization to be successful. For that reason, we have decided to hold a two-day program conference this fall. Program leaders, educators and administration will be meeting in the Twin Cities, October 5-7, 2009, to address the issues that cut across the program teams and impact all of us. I ask educators, faculty and administrators to hold these dates on your calendar and watch for more information from Senior Associate Dean Mike Schmitt.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Please join me in congratulating the following Extension educators who successfully earned academic promotion in 2009:  Phillip Glogoza, Eleanor Burkett and Ryon Walker. All three were promoted from assistant Extension professor to associate Extension professor. 

As a member of the University's academic community, Extension must employ a level of quality and professional standards similar to what other University colleges and academic units are using. Extension's academic promotion process for regional educators was established in 2006 to support and recognize educators for their achievement in six categories: scholarship, education and teaching, program leadership, engagement, program management and service.

My thanks to everyone who participated this year - the applicants, the mentors, and the promotion review committees. Applications for the 2010 promotion process will begin later this summer. If you are considering applying for academic promotion, please discuss it with your supervisor.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

During these times of budget cuts, it is more important than ever that we work with other states to provide Extension research and outreach that address the needs of our clients. One example of this is the US Pork Center for Excellence (USPCE). Minnesota Extension faculty--Mark Whitney, Lee Johnston and Jerry Shurson--play key roles in the USPCE.

The USPCE, which is located in Ames, Iowa, was established in 2005 to increase cooperation and collaboration among universities, the pork production industry and government. Minnesota's involvement reflects our commitment to regionalization, industry collaborations, working in partnerships, and using a variety of technology to deliver programs and distance education.

Minnesota is a national leader in multi-state collaborations, and we will continue to look for opportunities to partner with other states in developing and delivering the research and education that makes a difference in Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Extension recently received a federal grant to support our emergency education response to the spring flooding in Northwest Minnesota. We received our full request for funding several educational efforts associated with immediate and short-term responses to the flooding disaster. Specifically, the grant supports staffing flood recovery centers with Extension personnel to assist citizens in finding answers, developing key educational videos on home recovery, and creating media awareness for Extension's resources that assist citizens in making informed decisions. 

Thanks to our Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) team and Senior Associate Dean Mike Schmitt for responding quickly to this federal grant opportunity. And thanks to all of the faculty and staff who are managing Extension's educational response to floods.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, the governor signed the higher education bill, which reduced the University's budget by 7 percent or $104 million. This week, the legislature adjourned without balancing the state budget. The Governor has said he will begin balancing the budget via unallotments after July 1.

The reduced University budget for the next biennium, the potential for additional unallotments during the next two-year budget cycle, and the impact of the state budget shortfall on our county partners all have a great impact on Extension's budget.

In preparation for the reduced University budget, I asked the Extension center associate deans, director of field operations and administrative units to prepare FY2010 budgets at 5 percent less than FY2009 budgets.   In addition, we must look for additional cost savings in our operations. This may mean merging and closing some Extension regional offices. I am working with Lee Raeth, director of field operations, and regional directors in reviewing the current situation and determining the best process for making these decisions.

Because our county partners are also expecting significant reductions in the state aid to local governments, we know counties may be challenged to be able to continue to fund local Extension positions. We will be working closely with our county partners in the next months to determine the best way to continue funding for local Extension positions.

The next two years will be a challenging biennium for the state, the University, Extension and our partners. We have weathered many storms in the past, and I am confident we can manage this one if we work together and make the challenging choices necessary to sustain our programs in Minnesota.

I encourage you to use the Extension and the Economy website to submit your questions, comments or ideas. There you can find links to University budget messages and other resources and information.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Last fall I asked every Extension employee to complete a survey that will help us determine Extension's statewide networks. We had a 96 percent response rate! Thanks to all of you who took the time to complete the survey.

The information you provided will allow us to map Extension's networks and identify strengths, gaps and opportunities. The analysis of this data will tell an important story to the University, legislators, county commissioners and other stakeholders who need to understand the value of Extension to the state. Extension's associate deans and program leaders will also be able to use the analysis to better understand the primary relationships within and across Extension centers and program teams.

More information will be available in the coming months. Thank you again for your participation in this Extension-wide survey.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Today, I have the pleasure of presenting distinguished Extension awards at the Extension Staff Consultative Committee (ESCC) annual professional development day for Extension support staff.

Karla Engels, executive office and administrative assistant in the Extension Regional Office in Marshall, received the Distinguished Extension Support Campus Staff award for her work on the Enterprise Financial System.

Angela Marohl, nutrition education assistant in Swift County, received the Distinguished Extension Nutrition Education Assistant award.

Terrence Straub, Master Gardener program coordinator in Hennepin County, received the Distinguished Extension Program Staff award.

Janel Zimmerman, executive and office assistant at the Extension regional office in Hutchinson, received the Distinguished Extension Support Field Staff award.

While the responsibilities and accomplishments of the four award winners vary according to their roles in Extension, their nomination letters contained very similar messages. Karla, Angela, Terry and Janel were all recognized by the people who nominated them for their ability to manage complex projects, work effectively with diverse audiences, take on new and challenging assignments, and address problems in sometimes difficult situations.

Please join me in congratulating your colleagues and thanking them for making such a positive difference for Extension and Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Three years ago, we formed the American Indian Task Force to look at the needs of the American Indian tribes in Minnesota, to identify what role Extension could play in addressing those needs, and to begin appropriate programs and research. Last week, the Extension deans had the pleasure of hearing the three-year progress report from the task force. The cross-disciplinary task force has worked closely with tribal communities to build relationships and understand needs. In the last three years, Extension has hired four new staff to work specifically with American Indian audiences who have established several examples of successful, culturally sensitive programs in 4-H, natural resources and family development. 

This is an example of what we can accomplish when we work across our disciplines to focus on specific audiences and their needs. I look forward to seeing more information about the impact of these efforts in the coming years.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues

Today, the University broke ground for the $3.3 million renovation at the regional Extension office and research and outreach center in Morris. The renovation will allow the center to serve as a demonstration and research platform for renewable energy and green building technologies, in addition to the current research and extension programs in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition and youth development.

 This building project is exciting for Extension for several reasons. In addition to supporting our effort to build our research and extension programs in renewable energy, this is an opportunity to create a regional Extension office that reflects our changing office needs. The Morris office will have public meeting rooms for programs as well as work spaces for our many traveling educators. This project has also benefited from the work of Extension's new development officer, Matt Musel. AgCountry, a Fargo-based financial services company, made a generous gift to the building project. In honor of that gift, the 220 capacity auditorium at the center will be named after them.   

I look forward to sharing the progress of the Morris project with you in the coming months.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to tour some of the flooded areas in the Moorhead-Fargo area with Extension staff from Minnesota and North Dakota. We discussed the current and future needs and how we can work together to address those needs.

Both North Dakota and Minnesota will be applying for special federal funding for emergency response education. We are coordinating our requests to ensure that we are taking full advantage of the resources from both universities. The additional materials developed with this funding, will also be available when a disaster strikes in the future. Senior Associate Dean Mike Schmitt is working with our disaster response coordinator, Bob Byrnes, the disaster response team, and center associate deans to complete Minnesota's request.

In the meantime, Extension continues to add timely resources and information to the flood website, we have increased hours for the Flood & Farm Information Line and we are working with the Iowa State AnswerLine to expand services as well.

I want to thank all of you who continue to respond to the additional needs created by the flooding situation.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

I was recently asked if Extension would stop offering programs in a county if the county no longer funded local Extension positions. I was surprised by this question, which is why it is the subject of this week's column.

This is the same question that prompted Extension's major restructuring in 2004. At that time, Extension educators were located in county offices, and Extension's funding from state, federal and county partners were combined to pay for those positions. During the 2003 state budget crisis, some counties told us they were not going to be able to continue providing their funding. Extension needed to find a new model that ensured that our statewide programming continued regardless of county investment, while allowing counties to receive additional services if they did invest in Extension.

Our current model ensures that regional and statewide Extension programs are available for all Minnesotans. These regional and state positions are funded through state and federal dollars. Counties can choose to supplement the regional and statewide programs with local county-funded program positions, including 4-H program coordinators, Extension educators and Master Gardener coordinators. 

While Washington County's decision to eliminate funding for local 4-H Extension positions has drawn a significant amount of attention, it is important to remember that our 2009 contracts with counties included an increase in funding from eight counties and slight reductions from seven counties. While counties have difficult budget decisions ahead, commissioners from across the state continue to tell me how committed they are to Extension in their counties.   However, we do know and acknowledge that it will not be possible to maintain the some level of 4-H programming without a local program coordinator.

We will continue to work closely with counties to support their investment in Extension. And, if a county reduces or eliminates funding, we will continue to provide our regional and state programs and information to people in those counties.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

We are beginning to see how the state budget will impact Minnesota. Each day we hear about the difficult budget decisions legislators and county leaders are facing across the state.

Last night, during Extension at the Capitol training, Extension stakeholders and staff heard from Minnesota Senator David Senjem, senate minority leader, and Senator Sandy Pappas, chair of the Higher Education Budget and Policy Committee, about the difficult decisions Minnesota legislators have to make in a state that is essentially broke. While Extension's recent hearing and discussions with legislators about the Agriculture State Special funding have been positive, we know that we must continue to actively communicate the impact of that state investment in Extension and the Experiment Station in this competitive funding environment. 

We also continue to see our county partners making difficult budget decisions that impact Extension.  While several counties will be making mid-year budget adjustments, during the last month, Washington County has received a tremendous amount of attention. Earlier this week, the Washington County Board voted to eliminate county funding for 4-H in Washington County as of September 15, 2009. While we are disappointed with this decision, we will continue to work closely with our 4-H youth and families in Washington County to balance budget realities with our mission to serve Minnesota.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

It is finally spring in Minnesota and with the warmer temperatures come the annual weather-related challenges. Extension staff are actively preparing for the flood conditions that are expected to impact portions of northwestern Minnesota.

Bob Byrnes, Extension's disaster response coordinator, is leading Extension's response efforts, including working closely with our staff in northern Minnesota and our Extension colleagues in North Dakota. Minnesota's Emergency Disaster Education Network (EDEN) team has been working to revise flood related materials and make them available it multiple ways. The flood website will once again be featured on the Extension website while flooding remains an issue. Because internet connections are not always accessible during weather emergencies, the EDEN team is also working to make information available through printed materials, flash drives, news media and other methods.

As always, weather related emergencies can add additional work and stress to our local and regional Extension staff who live and work in the affected areas. Bob will work closely with our staff to identify additional information and workload needs. I appreciate your assistance if you are asked to review or develop flood related resources or assist your colleagues in other ways.  

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

It continues to be a busy time in both Washington D.C. and at the Minnesota State Legislature.  Many of you have questions about what is happening and how it will affect Extension.  To receive updates on the federal stimulus funding you can go to the University's Stimulus Funding Web site to find the latest information and links.   You can also go directly to the federal website to learn how federal agencies and states are using the federal stimulus funding.

If you are interested in what is happening at the state level, you can go to the Minnesota House or Senate websites and sign up for email updates, check the status of a bill, or find out when hearings will be held.

Many faculty members have been or will be asked to provide information to state legislators and/or testify at a hearing.  If you have been invited to testify, send an email to Sarah Greening with information about the hearing request, including committee, agenda topic, date and time. Sarah will work with the University's government relations team to get approval.

As I mentioned previously, I recognize the stress the ongoing budget discussions and headlines have on all of us; however, it is important that we all continue to focus on our programs and the participants who learn and grow from them.   I continue to see excellent examples of how our Extension programs are making a difference in Minnesota.  As you visit the legislative websites, do not forget to also visit Extension's website to learn about the programs and impact that all of you are making throughout the state.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This week, we had the opportunity to meet with Minnesota's federal senators and representatives in Washington D.C. to share stories of the impact of Extension in Minnesota. University of Minnesota Extension is a member of the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) which coordinates an annual opportunity for land-grant universities to offer testimony in support of land-grant agricultural programs to Congressional committees and Executive Branch agencies. 

As you know, the best people to tell our story are our stakeholders and partners. I want to thank Pat Buschette, Richard Magnussen and Jim Sallstrom, the three citizens who joined me in Washington D.C. to tell about the impact of our programs and the need to continue to fund Extension research, teaching and outreach.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (February 26, 2009)

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Dear Colleagues,

There's so much talk these days about budgets, implications of various reduction scenarios, and trying to plan for the financial uncertainties of 2010 that it's easy to forget to focus on the opportunities in front of us today. On Sunday, I had an inspiring reminder of the importance of keeping our focus on our programs and the participants whose lives are changed by them.

Extension's Speak Out for Military Kids trains military and non-military youth to establish speakers bureaus to advocate for military-connected youth affected by deployment. Sunday morning was the end of a weekend-long retreat for 25 military kids who had a parent currently deployed, had been deployed, or is getting ready to be deployed. After a weekend of meeting other military kids and realizing they aren't alone, interacting with a military panel, and creating a presentation to share their military experience, these youth practiced their presentations with an audience of families and other guests. I had the privilege of being one of those "other guests," sitting among the military parents and family members, listening to these youth tell their incredible stories as they prepared to speak at future community events.

In addition to the personal benefits each of these youth gained from this weekend, they are now prepared to use the public speaking and leadership skills they learned to raise community awareness of issues faced by geographically dispersed military youth and foster community support for the sacrifices military families make. Now that is definitely something to focus on, regardless of the latest headlines about the state and national budgets.

So, while I recognize the stress the ongoing budget discussions and headlines has on all of us, I will continue to say, "The most important thing Extension can do right now is focus on our programs and the participants who learn and grow from them." My thanks to Amber Runke and Kia Harries for giving me the opportunity to see Extension in action last weekend.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (February 19, 2009)

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Dear Colleagues,

Through the University's annual compact process, every college has an opportunity to submit and review goals and objectives with central administration. This process has allowed the University to invest central dollars in college priorities that support the strategic direction of the University. Extension has received over $1 million in recurring money from the University compact process in the last few years.

As you can imagine, this year's process had a special emphasis on the current budget realities. Central administration has asked each college to include the following information in their compact. I have asked the Extension associate deans to provide information to answer the same questions for each of the Extension centers.

  1. A candid assessment of the unit's strengths and challenges given the financial outlook for the next several years and the unit's strategic direction.
  2. A prioritized list of legal/contractual, safety, or compliance commitments.
  3. Other multi-year commitments from prior compacts.
  4. A brief description of one extremely compelling opportunity that could transform the unit and keep it on track vis a vis the unit's and the University's strategic goals.
  5. A list of the unit's lowest priority activities.
  6. A brief description, including dollar estimates, of current and future cost-saving initiatives and productivity gains.
  7. Given items 1 through 6 above, a list of activities recommended for elimination or curtailment.
  8. The unit's vision statement and highest priority initiatives for capital campaign gifts.

I submitted Extension's 2009-10 compact earlier this week. Next week, I will meet with Senior Vice President Robert Jones and budget officers to review our compact. Once central administration's process is completed, I will make the Extension compact available for all staff to review.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (February 12, 2009)

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Dear Colleagues,

Forty-five percent of Extension's annual budget is funded through the state of Minnesota, and the vast majority of that $22 million comes through Minnesota's Agriculture State Special appropriation. The College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) also receive funding through the Agriculture State Special.

Last week, the University was asked to present to the House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Finance Committee a report on how the Agriculture State Special funds are being used to address Minnesota's needs. Deans Trevor Ames (CVM) and Al Levine (CFANS) and I presented a coordinated report on the University's research and Extension work resulting from that funding. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation is available on the Extension Employee Site.

This week, the committee heard from agriculture groups about their research and Extension needs from the University. In the coming weeks, the committee will draft the bill outlining their recommendations for Agriculture State Special funding for the 2010-11 biennium. This is a significant bill for Extension, and we will continue to work closely with the committee and our agriculture partners as this bill is drafted.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

Counties have been and will continue to be a significant partner in Extension's presence across the state. As counties face difficult financial decisions in the months and years ahead, we must work with them to find creative solutions that address the ever-changing realities in Minnesota. Extension has a vital role to play during these challenging times, and we need to work with our county partners to ensure that Extension continues to operate across Minnesota.

As we prepare for the very near future, we must think creatively about our delivery model. How can we reduce administrative costs while ensuring that we continue to deliver on our mission to provide practical and useful research-based education? I have asked Toni Smith, Extension's liaison to the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC), to work closely with Lee Raeth, director of field operations, and the regional directors to identify creative ways for Extension to realign the current administrative functions of county and regional offices, consider opportunities to serve as the "front door to the University," and outline additional examples of ways that counties can work together to get the local Extension services they need.

And finally, I have asked each of the associate deans of the Extension Centers to outline various program and staffing options to address potential changes in county funding. Leadership teams for 4-H; nutrition education programs; and local educators in food, agriculture and natural resources are working to identify the educational services that can be offered under a variety of funding scenarios.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This week the governor unveiled his proposal to balance the state budget. Included in that is a reduction to the University of Minnesota of $151 million. The governor's recommendations are just the first step in a long process that will continue through this legislative session. While we do not know our final reductions for 2010 and 2011, we are actively strategizing and preparing for reductions in state funding to the University and Extension. We also are well aware that reductions to county budgets will impact Extension and we continue to strategize for that as well.

Throughout this process, I am committed to keeping you informed about Extension's response to the budget challenges facing the University, state and nation. Today, I am introducing a website for employees, Extension and the Economy. Here you will find: budget-related Extension messages and information; quick links to University messages; helpful professional and personal resources; and answers to frequently asked questions.

I would also like to hear from you during this process. Do you have a question you'd like addressed in a future post? A suggestion you would like to share? A rumor you want to check out? I invite you to use the online form to submit your questions or ideas. I will review all of the submissions and will also use them to help determine topics of future communications, including frequently asked questions. While I cannot commit to responding to individual submissions, I will review all of them and share them with other members of the leadership team.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

By now, all Extension faculty and staff should be well aware of Extension's primary funding sources: the state provides 45 percent of our funding, counties provide 22 percent and the federal government provides 15 percent. That means that 82 percent of our budget is provided by taxpayers through state, local and federal governments. Over the last years, this meant steady funding that we counted on to develop, deliver and evaluate our programs. However, today, all of our funding partners are now facing unprecedented budget challenges, which have significant implications for Extension.

The first is the budget un-allotment for 2009. Last month the governor announced a $20 million un-allotment of state funding to the University. Last week, we received notice from the University that Extension's portion of that un-allotment will be $627,300, or 2.25 percent of our state funding. Fortunately, we have been planning for this, and we currently have reserves in our central Extension and Extension center budgets to cover this un-allotment. However, next year will be a different story.

While we are months away from knowing the specific budget reductions for Extension for 2010 and 2011, it is safe to assume that there will be reductions and they will not be small. The future implications of the budget crisis for Extension are many. That is why I will continue to challenge all program teams to carefully evaluate their program plans, including your ability to achieve and measure outcomes and impacts, and your ability to generate additional sources of income from fees, grants, gifts, contracts and sponsorships.

Resources are available to help you meet these expectations. Evaluation specialists in each of the Extension centers work with teams to develop the measures needed to capture program outcomes and impacts. I encourage you to work with them. Grants are the first focus area that Extension is encouraging for additional funds. I encourage you to visit the grants development website and take the Extension grants course, which we are asking all Extension educators to complete.

The coming years will may not be easy, but we must take action today to ensure that the programs our state, county and federal partners fund through Extension are clearly making a difference in Minnesota. We can also continue to seek out additional ways to fund the programs we offer, helping to ensure their sustainability through the budget challenges.

Bev Durgan

Dean's Column (January 8, 2009)

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Dear Colleagues,

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.

Bev Durgan

Dear Colleagues,

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of University of Minnesota Extension. The challenges facing Minnesota in 1909 were not unlike the challenges facing Minnesota today―demographic shifts, technology growth, significant economic concerns. Today, the need for the state-s land-grant University to extend its research and resources to address the issues facing the state is as strong as ever.

While we are proud of our 100-year history and intend to use the coming year to honor Extension?s impact on Minnesota, we will do so in a fiscally responsible manner. We have created several communications pieces that all employees can use to tell how Extension brings value to the people of Minnesota.

A special Centennial Edition of Source magazine is online and will be in mailboxes the last week in January.

The Centennial website offers: historical facts and stories; an interactive quiz to test your historical knowledge; an opportunity to submit your photos and stories; and video features that showcase the impact of Extension in Minnesota since 1909.

A 10-minute Centennial video features five stories that showcase the impact of Extension in Minnesota since 1909. "Then" and "now" examples highlight water quality, disaster response, bridging cultures, youth development and accessibility to healthy food.

Guidelines on how to best use the above resources, as well as a summary of Extension?s key messages for communicating the value of Extension during the Centennial year are available on the employee website.

Bev Durgan