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2002-08-06 Federation and Administration Conference Minutes

Federation and Administrative Conference Minutes

August 6, 2002
Issues/Solutions/Responses

The Federation and Administrative Conference of the North Carolina Federation of Cooperative Extension Associations was held on August 6, 2002 on Centennial Campus. Denise Brown, President welcomed everyone and thanked Dr. Ort for sponsoring lunch.
Denise then called on David Goff, President Elect to lead the discussion on Issues and Responses. David thanked Dr. Ort for recommending a mid-year follow-up. This reassures Federation that their work is meaningful. David reported that he met with Denise last week and will use the document from the 2001 Forum listing Issues/Solutions/Responses posted on the web site. Dr. Ort and Zublena gave a handout with updated responses to the six issues. Further discussion was held on each as follows:

Computer Technology:

Issue #1 Newer and Faster Options: Dr. Ort said counties have unique needs, therefore a decision was made to create Information Technology Services (ITS). ITS is county focused, but works in concert with the campus unit. Last week, Rhonda Conlon’s recommendation of $300,000 was approved. This will allow all remaining counties to receive the Linux system. Counties are encouraged to share county network support whenever possible. Linux servers look like Windows and have a better capability of opening different types of software. Since the software and updates are available at no cost, Linux is more economical also, however, Dr. Ort noted that Linux was not problem-free.

Budget:

Dr. Ort requested permission to deviate from the current discussion to talk a little about the budget. He added that he appreciates all that Federation and Associations do to promote a positive work environment. He misses Annual Conference and commented that it is very valuable for sharing information. Due to budget constraints, and the cost of approximately $150,000 per conference, consideration has been given to a three to four year rotation. Other states hold their annual conference every three or four years also. For communication purposes it is better holding the conference at least every other year, but for now the three to four year recommendation may have to suffice. This discussion will be on going and Federation will be asked to provide input.

Dr. Ort then discussed the travel budget situation. They’ve been trying to determine travel allocations by FTE during an adequate budget period. No one has a complete picture of what it takes to operate CALS and NCCE. The last year and a half has been spent trying to get a handle on money problems and recover from the $2 3/4 million budget reversion. CALS and NCCE are currently operating in the “black” thanks in part to the diligent effort of employees and the department head meeting held several years ago to decide budget cuts. Dr. Ort reminded us that the North Carolina budget situation could be worse, and is in our bordering states of Virginia and South Carolina. Virginia has lost approximately 100 positions. Administration realizes that personnel require travel funds to be able to adequately perform their jobs and are planning to allot an extra $15,000 per district. Dr. Zublena noted that Dr. Ort, District Extension Directors, Program Leaders and he will meet with each district the week of November 18 to gather and share information. Meetings are scheduled as follows:

November 18 – Southeast November 19 – Northeast
November 20 – South Central and North Central
November 21 – West
November 22 – Northwest and Southwest

Dr. Zublena reported there has been an 18 percent turnover with state employees compared to a normal year of an 8 – 10 percent. NCCE normally averages a 3 – 4 percent annual turnover, which is a little higher now.

Dr. Ort reported a 2.9 percent cut is on the table now with the general assembly. The house is looking at a 3 percent cut. Tony Rand is sponsoring a house bill regarding salary equity. Dr. Ort went on to say that we are in pretty good shape right now, but we will have to wait it out and see if there are more reversions/cuts.

Dr. Zublena noted retirement at 25 years of service and age 55. Also, the proposal is to give state employees 10 days bonus leave in lieu of COLA/merit.

Computer Technology

Issue #1 Newer and Faster Options:
The discussion then returned to Computer Technology. Dr. Zublena said hardware should improve. County cost per line is currently $450-$1000. Some counties have decided to adopt county Internet servers when cheaper and faster than NCSU. They are trying to look at things differently and come up with new ideas.

Issue #2 New Software: Dr. Ort said that e-mail attachments remain an issue, but Star Office contains better options for compatibility.

Issue #3 Disparity with County Web Sites: John Dorner, George Stancil and a group of volunteers have developed templates allowing counties to maintain their web site without technical expertise.

Issue #4 Competency-Based Training: Being addressed by the POD group. They are looking at this from a technical standpoint.

Computer Technology Questions and Answer Session

Q. Has there been any effort to expand support personnel to lessen down time?
A. Rhonda Conlon has made budget request to improve response time to county centers.

Q. Should campus departments look elsewhere for system support?
A. Yes, ITS will provide support for county centers.

Q. Are there security problems with the system?
A. Faculty members lost eleven programs to virus, however cases were mostly due to faculty not staying within the standard computing environment. Linux will be less prone to virus problems.

Q. Is the use of PCs in county’s encouraged or discouraged?
A. PC’s should not be used in counties unless county IT support is secured. ITS at NCSU does not support PCs.

CEMPS:

Issue #1 CEMPS from Twenty to Five: Dr. Ort believes that twenty is too broad to market easily. There is willingness on all levels to move to five “focus areas.” Dr. Zublena noted the same number of objectives with five CEMPS. It is still a big system, however it should improve marketing and decrease duplication of programs. Dr. McKinnie said the concern was not the number of CEMPS, but less does help with maintaining key objectives. To decrease CEMPS to five is less cumbersome to define and better describes what we do.

Issue #2 Value of CEMPS: Dr. Ort discussed the importance of the value placed on programs. This is helpful to use with the general assembly and other deciding bodies since they readily understand measurements with a dollar value. Many of the CEMPS have no dollar measurements, like natural disasters, but they are a valuable testimonial. Dr. Ort told a group of department heads yesterday, the highest value to NCCE was agent training, therefore agent training will have the highest priority for budgeted money. Dr. Ort stated that starting salaries for agents is another of the highest priorities. Dr. Zublena added that the fiscal problems in counties can not be downplayed. County Managers and Commissioners are being forced to question program dollars. Marketing of the value of Extension is more critical now than ever. David Goff asked if the appropriate personnel in Raleigh could provide counties with an updated dollar value for reporting. Dr. Zublena said that more research-based information on values is needed. The current $10 per hour for volunteers is perhaps undervalued.

Issue #3 CEMPS: Dr. Ort brought up the research-intensive university. Faculty is not immune from bringing in support dollars. NCCE is looking at the rational of charging for certain programs as cost recovery. Other states have ways of recovering income (despite Smith-Lever), such as the service of setting up conferences. We need to re-examine the Smith-Lever Act. NCCE on-campus has generated $6 million over the past three years. Grant monies in the counties have been more than $12 million over the past year. CALS has $52 million with 60 percent tied to Extension. Faculty must generate money despite appointment type. Family and Consumer is leading the way with the most fund development, Biochemistry is second and 4-H is third. Dr. Ort projects $58-60 million next year.

CEMP Question and Answer Session

Q. Old system is hard to report under ERS. Will the new reporting system make it easier to provide answers?
A. Yes, for most reporting. Some things may still be difficult to define.

Scholarly Activity:

Issue #1: Non-Engaged Perception: Dr. Stephen Jones’ philosophy of policy to define scholarship for Extension faculty is the one recommended by the Kellogg Commission. A new committee will soon begin discussion on the definition of scholarly activity. Dr. Jones is trying to facilitate. Eight pilot counties have been identified as “gateways,” however decreased budgets have slowed down the process. District Extension Directors are working with County Extension Directors and field faculty to increase title promotion packages. Departments have done an excellent job. Dr. Ort noted that some NCCE packages need to be stronger.

EMAPS:

Issue #1 Excessive Length of Document: Dr. Ort turned the discussion over to Dr. Zublena who said they are developing a contract with the College of Management. There has been considerable discussion of volume, however he reminded the group that the system was designed by staff members. Dr. Ron Jarrett is the EMAPS team leader on the County Operations Team.

Issue #2 Equity Between Counties: Looking for outliers for greater than/less than leniency.

Salary Equity:

Issue #1: Occurrence: Dr. Ort said that they have been chasing equitable treatment for field faculty for eleven years. There are separate budgets (line items) for ARS and NCCE. The teaching line item (16030) has been spared cuts and given more money. The research line item has merit adjustments within their code. Extension and research has received much less rewards than teaching because of designation, therefore it is imperative for Extension to be considered teaching to receive equitable treatment. Some Extension faculty’ have tenure tracking, however Dr. Ort does not feel that tenure tracking would be the best option for NCCE. The Optional Retirement Program (ORP) is the first step in recognition of county personnel as faculty. Fifty percent of NCCE is teaching and fifty percent is research. Extension and research had to use “old” money while teaching received “new.” $17 million has been lost over the last ten years due to non-teaching designation.

Salary Equity Question and Answer Session

Q. Will their be money rewards for title promotions this year?
A. There will be money attached to the eighteen title promotions this year. Term appointments will be re-instated just as quickly as the budget allows. For now, Extension is forced to keep them “at will.” Dr. Zublena said that once there is a field faculty designation, employees can not be “at will.” Dr. Ort said “at will” appointments are designated only for administrative positions.

Q. What other benefits or changes can be expected from faculty designation? Will more work be required of field faculty?
A. Field faculty will not have voting rights in the faculty senate because that would mean too many votes for NCCE. No other reporting will be required since NCCE parallels campus faculty. Reporting is new to most colleges on campus. Dr. Ort and Dr. Zublena said that would be no greater expectations and that publishing is not a requirement. We currently have 140 full time employees on campus and 503 in the field. This is second only to Texas.

Q. Texas agriculture agents have been given a line item in the state budget. Is this a better way for salary recognition? If so, should North Carolina look at options?
A. Dr. Ort noted that Texas received $1.2 million to reward county agents and +4 percent increase for faculty. The relationship with legislators is better in Texas than in North Carolina. Louisiana also received new money, but Texas and Louisiana are “energy states.” The makeup of the universities is different from North Carolina and there is also the political situation to consider. Dr. Zublena said that salary is the most difficult and frustrating issue to deal with overall.

Multi-County Work:

Issue #1: Ineffective Distribution: Dr. Zublena said multi-county work can provide better expertise and more of these positions are needed “where they fit.” Personality and communication are the two most important issues for success. The majority of these positions work very well. Dr. Ort reported that three years ago at the Southern Region meeting only two of fifteen states had multi-county positions, compared to all but one now. Forty-six percent have cross county positions in agriculture, family and consumer education and 4-H. “The right person can make it work.” Physical presence in the county is important. The Southern Region goal is to have one agent in every county at least partly for political reasons.

David Goff presented the following three issues that were not presented at the 2001 Forum.

Issue #1 Morale: Professional associations are not the best to address the morale issue. Administration should look at alternative venues. The “at will” appointments are not conducive to positive morale. The lack of travel money and negative rumors hurt morale. On a positive note, Dr. Ort said that Inside Extension is highlighting Dot Johnson, Lincoln County Extension Secretary for her 60-year career. She has seen four county directors and eight district directors. “Extension is a commitment to a career not everyone is cut out for it.” Morale should increase with the reinstatement of term letters. Personnel should be kept informed. Dr. Zublena asked associations and/or personnel to share rumors with Administration as they surface. This will allow for clarification.

Issue #2 Developing a Strategic Plan for the Budget Situation: Dr. Ort said there is an evolving strategic plan and not one set one. The picture is much better than eighteen months ago. Strategic plans will be presented at the November district meetings. Dr. Zublena said funds should be put back into operating expenses, such as travel and training. Also the fee for service issue will be addressed.

Issue #3 Termination of Federal Appointments: Everyone was sent an e-mail from Harvey Lineberry regarding the termination of Schedule A Federal appointments as of January 3, 2003. The benefits will continue for “grandfathered” federal appointments, however due to “wiggle wording” by USDA attorneys, no one is clear on who will pay. If NCCE becomes responsible, $3-4 million will be required immediately. A letter has been sent from Colleen Hefren, USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CRSEES) for signature from all federal appointments. There will be a MCNC teleconference for all federally appointed employees.

Question and Answer Session
Q. Will USDA write regulations for what is in the Farm Bill?
A. Not sure.

Q. Will those with federal appointments be impacted?
A. Previous federal appointments will be rescinded. No impact on franking privileges. Federal discounts might be stopped on things like airline tickets. Retirement benefits should not change. Re-employment of federal employees is in question. This will have a huge impact on 1890’s institutions since they rely more on federal funding than state support.

Q. Is the rumor that fifty people plan to retire this year true?
A. Fifty-three employees had their amounts calculated, but twenty-five are serious.

David Goff thanked Dr. Ort, Zublena and McKinnie for input and support.

Since time is limited today, Denise Brown asked Association Presidents to send issues for the December Forum to David Goff by September 15, 2002.

Business Session

August 6, 2002

The business session was called to order by President Brown.

A motion was made by Marjorie Rayburn, seconded by Frances Turner and passed to approve the agenda.

Minutes from the February 22, 2002 and March 14, 2002 meetings were posted to the web site. Corrections were presented for February 22. A motion was made by Walter Earle to accept the February 22 minutes as corrected. Motion carried. A motion was made by Robbie Furr and seconded by Walter Earle to accept the March 14 minutes. Motion passed.

Lisa Hall, Treasurer presented the treasurer’s report. The report was accepted as read.

A motion was made by the Constitution Committee to change the bylaws as posted on the web site. The floor was open for discussion. President Brown asked for an objection to voting all changes as one. None was voiced. Vote taken and motion carried. Steve Lilley, and his committee were thanked for their hard work. The web site will be updated.

New Business:

Interest of the group was to further discuss the Contracted Lobbyist, however time did not permit discussion at this time. President Brown entertained a motion to recess the business session until after the Extension and Engagement portion since Dr. Jones was unavoidably detained and time had been allotted for his input. A motion was made by Walter Earle, seconded by Robbie Furr and carried. The business session was then recessed.

Extension and Engagement Session
Denise Brown welcomed everyone and thanked for attendance. Everyone introduced themselves and told who they represented. Dr. Jones has been unavoidably detained with legislators, but has sent his request that the meeting continue as planned.
Denise then turned the meeting over to Dr. Ort who briefly explained the purpose of the North Carolina Federation of Cooperative Extension Associations. Federation is a collaborative effort of Cooperative Extension’s six professional associations: Agriculture’ Family and Consumer Sciences; Secretaries; Program Assistants, Associates and Technicians; Specialist and 4-H. Federation collectively serves to express the ideas of the 1,300 people it represents to Administration and is one way of engaging all of NCSU and NC A&T. Federation requested a meeting with Dr. Jones to discuss ways to enhance engagement. From that meeting, Dr. Jones suggested today’s “get to know” session. Dr. McKinnie commented that NC A&T is a full participation partner in NCCE, representing thirty-two county employees committed to serve small, limited resource audiences.

Denise Brown passed out an assessment tool designed to show what participants know about other NCSU department programming and resources and hopefully reflect ways to enhance partnerships. Each participant was asked to fill out the red section before lunch and to dialogue during lunch on Extension and Engagement.

After lunch, one person from each department was asked to take five minutes to share their department’s major strengths/resources. Others were asked to list ideas for partnerships in the blue section on their forms.

Humanities Extension – Pam Ellis
Pam had to leave, but promised to provide e-mail to everyone explaining Humanities Extension programming.

Cooperative Extension Service (CES) – Dr. Jon Ort – NCSU
Two major strengths of CES are the physical presence of 101 centers and the interconnectivity to communities. Issue based programs are offered through direction of the Advisory Leadership System. The uniqueness of CES is that employees live in the communities they represent. NCSU needs to capitalize on this strength. CES needs other departments to secure the resources needed to provide research-based information.

Cooperative Extension Service – Dr. Ray McKinnie – NC A&T
NC A&T provides educational information to small, part-time, limited resource clientele based upon a federal mandate. It is a united effort with NCSU to serve the citizens of North Carolina.

Industrial Extension Service (IES) – Lynn Reese
IES transfers engineering science and technology to industries in North Carolina to promote economic development. They work with the Department of Commerce and Community Economical Development. Federal dollars are received to maintain the state’s industrial base. North Carolina is one of only eight nationwide where IES is linked to a university. IES major programming includes, but is not limited: NC Manufacturing Extension; NC Solar Center; Industrial Continuing Education; Industrial Energy Programs; Polymers Program and Construction Programs. Services are fee-based. There are nine regional offices: Vernon G. James Center – Plymouth, NCSU, NC A&T, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, East Carolina University, Haywood Community College, Watauga County CES Center and Catawba Valley Community College. IES is structured to provide support for small (500 employee or less) to medium size industrial operations. Currently, IES serves only ten percent of their potential client base in North Carolina.

Textile Extension Service (TES) – Dr. David Buchanan
TES was formed from a legislative mandate in 1968 to serve the textile industry, however wording of mandate does not limit programming to North Carolina. Traditionally, TES provides education for the textile industry, however the nature of programming changes as industry needs change. Businesses have less interest in traditional offerings. They are looking for new programs that allow them to run their business better. More distance learning technology is evolving. A 25-hour CD-ROM has been developed for in-house education. TES currently supplies less than 10 percent of the textile industry’s educational needs. TES doesn’t have field agents and could use CES and IES to increase programming efforts.

Science House – Dr. Mary Louise Bellamy
Science House works with K-12 teachers and students throughout North Carolina. They provide in-service training workshops for teachers. Science House has a Rural Schools Support Program and their outreach is to more than half of the counties in North Carolina. The main office is located on Centennial Campus with additional satellite offices in Lenoir and Edenton. Word-of-mouth marketing has worked well. A lot of free materials, and program information are available on their web site. Partnerships depend on, and can be designed to, fit each situation. Grants can be limited to one region or follow other criteria as needed. Emphasis is placed on helping under-funded counties. A suggestion was made for Science House and 4-H to work more closely together in program development and grant seeking on a local level.

NCSU Libraries – Carolyn Argentati
The main library is located on-campus. Four other sub sites are available. Offers resources targeted to NCSU students and faculty/staff. The web site provides request forms for first class mail delivery of books and articles to off-campus locations. An online search for databases can be performed by anyone with a unity account. The electronic mail address libref@ncsu.edu can be used for assistance with references. An Internet chat with the librarian is also available. Distance learning information can be found at www.lib.ncsu.edu. Carolyn can be contacted via e-mail at carolyn@unity.ncsu.edu.

McKimmon Center for Extension and Continuing Education – Dr. Denis Jackson
McKimmon is the second oldest Extension unit at NCSU, with 75 years service. Though not aligned with any academic college, McKimmon offers credit and non-credit classes, offering the largest summer session at NCSU.

McKimmon Center – Alice Warren
McKimmon is involved in the TRACS program and distance education. The office of professional development is available to organize meetings. The Center for Urban Affairs and Community Services office is located in-house. The ENCORE Center has tapes targeted to groups of older adults. McKimmon also helps organize end-of-grade testing and will help with references.

Denise Brown then opened the floor for twenty minutes of open dialogue. She began the dialogue by reinforcing comments today that NCSU departments need to do a better job of communicating and working together in developing programming that downplays territorialism and offers the best education to citizens throughout our state. CES offers connectivity in every county, which could be utilized better. The first line of contact is usually a secretary, therefore it is imperative to provide adequate information and training to this group for marketing.

Karen DeBord, CES: FCS has programming that offers support to families. There is an advantage of linking FCS with IES and TES to provide support resources to families within industries that are experiencing job loss and/or restructure.

David Buchanan, TES: Works with human resources at the local level. They rely heavily on community colleges, which are not represented at the table today, but play a large role in supplying educational resources locally.

Lynn Reese, IES: Could do a better job partnering with CES for family and consumer and human resource information.

Joe Zublena, CES: Leverage is that NCSU and NC A&T are in communities and could market programming in the county.

Jon Ort, CES: Encouraged participants to think of ways CES could market programs and communicate to associations and offices represented today. Collaborative meetings, like today, are a small step in the right direction and should be explored without prompting from administration. Dr. Jones has challenged us to work together. The concept of today’s meeting was discussed five or more years ago and he is glad to see it finally took place. He is excited about what lies ahead.

Dennis Jackson, McKimmon: Would like feedback on the Extension and Engagement web site. Encouraged departments to look at web site for resources/partnerships.

Karen DeBord, CES: Asked Dr. Ort to explain Dr. Jones “engaged university” in his absence and asked if this is the re-invention of Cooperative Extension?

Jon Ort, CES: No, 100 percent clear cut answer on re-invention of CES. The engaged university has been defined within the Kellogg Commission report. Independently, NCSU measures up very well, but we need to decide as a community what we can do for the people (public). Part of our professional focus needs to be beyond the campus. Ort shared an example of true engagement as a Veterinary student who took the science of a new discovery to the people throughout North Carolina.

Ray McKinnie, CES, NC A&T: We are engaged now, but engagement needs to move from activities to a culture that is accepted as the norm of day-to-day activity.

Dr. Steve Jones, E&E: Arrived and apologized for his tardiness and inability to be with us earlier. He thanked everyone for their attendance and hoped the meeting was productive.

Walter Earle, CES: Questioned Dr. Jones about his perception of how the county center would look like fifteen years from now, staff, etc?

Steve Jones: A physical presence is important. NCSU and NC A&T should be seen so people know it is a component of the university. He foresees the office of the future to be more technologically advanced digitally.

Jon Ort: There is a strong possibility that counties might have a different Extension Agent structure like IES or TES.

Denise Brown closed the discussion by promising Dr. Jones that she would compile the information from today for his perusal.

The planned walking tour was cancelled due to the need to reconvene the business session. Handouts on the Centennial Campus were provided to the group.

Business Session

The business session reconvened.

New Business:
Rodney Sawyer sent a message to request Federation’s thoughts/feelings of pursuing a Contracted Lobbyist. David Goff read the e-mail before discussion began.

Consensus of group as follows:
Denise Brown will send e-mail to Rodney saying that associations are interested in pursuing this idea and ask the committee to move forward, keeping these questions/concerns in mind:

  1. The legality of using association dollars since a portion of the treasury comes from member dues that are often paid by state and/or county funds.
  2. The legality of using resources, such as e-mail, meetings (like today’s) to discuss since they are paid by federal, state and/or county funds and time is provided by Administration.
  3. The amount of money needed from each association.
  4. The desired result of hiring a lobbyist (benefit to all associations?).

Associations were willing to provide someone to serve on this committee if the legality issues are resolved.

A motion was made, seconded and passed to adjourn.

Respectfully submitted:
Joanna Radford, Secretary