New Senate Ag Committee Grows Shared Governance
The Academic Council’s new Special Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources (ACSCANR) has met only three times, but has already successfully increased the Senate’s shared governance role in matters concerning the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES).
In February, ACSCANR requested, and was granted, representation on ANR’s Program Council, which coordinates Division-wide planning and delivery of programs and develops recommendations for the allocation of Division resources.
ACSCANR Chair and UC Riverside Division Chair Mary Gauvain says ANR Vice President Barbara Allen-Diaz’ decision provides the Senate with the opportunity to contribute its perspectives to programmatic and budget discussions regarding ANR that the Senate has not previously enjoyed. She says the Senate’s two Program Council representatives will have input into the selection of priorities for the research funds allocated by ANR and into which faculty proposals are funded. “Involvement in determining research priorities is an important and appropriate role for the Senate,” she said. “In addition, ANR has responded positively to ACSCANR requests for formal Senate representation on future search committees for ANR senior administrators, and the right to review and comment on a range of proposals or policies that impact Senate members or graduate students funded through ANR.”
“We greatly appreciate Vice President Allen-Diaz’ willingness to engage with the Special Committee and the Senate in shared governance,” said Academic Senate Chair Bob Anderson. “And we look forward to a closer and more productive relationship with ANR as a result.”
ANR is a systemwide division which includes approximately 650 faculty across four campus units at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside. The Hatch Act of 1887 authorized the establishment of agricultural experiment stations affiliated with land grant colleges of agriculture in each state and continues to fund agricultural research and outreach at those colleges. At UC, the AES locations are Berkeley, Davis, and Riverside. Senate faculty affiliated with those colleges have split appointments, with a portion for Instruction and Research and a portion that is specifically for research and outreach, funded by the AES. In addition, ANR includes UC Cooperative Extension (CE). Cooperative Extension specialists are housed in units on the three ANR campuses, and a network of Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists work in all but one of California’s 58 counties. The CE offices translate agricultural research through such programs as 4-H, the Master Gardener program, and a variety of other nutrition, health, and agricultural programs.
The Academic Council decided that a formal vehicle for Senate consultation with ANR was necessary because ANR’s activities are integrated into academic programs at three campuses, and its research support engages faculty and students throughout the University. Council charged ACSCANR to consider issues related to the ANR budget, the Division’s academic and capital planning, and the intersection of its academic and outreach missions. The Special Committee includes the Senate chairs or vice chairs of the Berkeley, Davis and Riverside divisions, representatives from CCGA, UCORP, and UCPB, and three at-large members appointed by UCOC, at least one of whom must come from a campus that does not have an Agricultural Experiment Station.
ACSCANR is encouraging ANR to consider the implications of the Funding Streams and rebenching reforms for its budget and mission. Under the current proposal, ANR is funded by campus assessments under Funding Streams, but the AES will be funded as an “off-the-top” item under the allocation of state funding in the rebenching framework. Rebenching will bring greater transparency by separating funding to a campus that is specifically for AES and has nothing to do with enrollments, and funding for enrollments. Anderson says that in an era of severe fiscal constraints and rising tuition, the balance between ANR’s roles in the University’s research and teaching missions, and in providing public service to California’s agricultural community, should be regularly examined.
Vice President Allen-Diaz says that ANR has taken significant budget cuts over the last 18 months, which have forced ANR to close or consolidate administrative units in many of its statewide programs, move its Water Resources Library to UC Riverside, and end participation in the Sea Grant program. “ANR is working hard to inform legislators and other constituencies about the importance of UC’s public land grant mission and agricultural research,” she says.
“The Senate is in a position to help ANR make a strong case for its importance,” says Chair Anderson. “But it can only do that if the Senate is well informed about the mission and accomplishments of ANR.”