September 1, 2015
Welcome to the inaugural installment of EVCP Expresso! We have lots going on here – a lot that is exciting and innovative that I would like to share with you – but we also have areas that we need to address in terms of difficulties and challenges. The purpose of Expresso is to provide insight into areas with significant impact on a cross-section of our academic community.
This title “Expresso” reflects several things I hope to accomplish with this monthly newsletter, including the notion of an express communication that provides me an opportunity to express a unique perspective from the EVCP office. The basic design is this – each edition will include two or three topics that I am fairly certain are on the minds of at least some of you. You can review the topic list (see below) in less than five seconds, and if any pique your interest, learn more by clicking on the topic. If none capture your fancy, take another second to delete this email!
This month, I’d like to share:
- What are we doing about the housing crisis at UCSF?
- How are we cutting the red tape that hinders research?
- What’s going on with Mission Hall?
My aim is to make Expresso informative but also allow a chance for all of you to give us observations and advice regarding what is going on at UCSF. Please share your feedback with me at ExecutiveViceChancellor@ucsf.edu.
What are we doing about the housing crisis at UCSF?
The cost of housing in the SF Bay Area stands among the highest in the country. Median rents in San Francisco went up 55% between 2000 and 2014 and show no signs of dropping.* We know this is a hot topic, and there is simply no question that the availability of affordable housing is having an impact on our ability to recruit and retain the very best trainees, faculty, and staff. The EVCP Office has been working with several entities on campus as well as external partners to try and solve this problem. The campus agencies include Campus Life Services, Campus Planning, Academic Affairs, and specific departments in the schools. While this issue affects virtually everyone, we will initially focus on our trainees and junior faculty, who are often hit the hardest in terms of figuring out whether they can afford to join our community.
The current Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) calls for more than doubling the campus housing from 222 units to 551 units at Parnassus Heights and from 431 units to 954 units at Mission Bay by 2035. There are also well-established plans to convert UC Hall and the Millberry Union towers into housing. Even if these projects opened today, however, they wouldn’t have enough units to offer housing to everyone who needs it. And, in any event, we can’t wait 20 years to resolve this dilemma.
Here are some of the efforts currently under way:
- EVCP, Campus Life Services, and Real Estate Services, with the assistance of specialized consultants, have come up with some entirely new approaches to help us fill our housing gaps. A couple of very real opportunities have already surfaced.
- Academic Affairs is collecting system-wide data to help us assess the size of the problem. For instance, what percentage of faculty choose not to come to UCSF due to the high cost of living? How many leave UCSF for that reason? We encourage individual departments to collect this information and share it with us so that we have as much hard data as possible to make a case for the magnitude of the problem.
- I have met with the Real Estate Subcommittee of the Board of Overseers to share my concern about this issue, and they definitely get it, and they want to help. One step in the right direction that has already been a result of their help: UCSF has engaged in a master lease with the Bayside Village Apartment Complex, located off the Embarcadero less than 1.5 miles from our Mission Bay campus. Although there are relatively few units available at Bayside Village right now, we are exploring opportunities to increase the number of units available to the UCSF community within the next year.
- We have reached out to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, among others, to get their ideas on how to attack the problem. We aren’t alone - many employers in San Francisco face similar issues, and we hope to learn from their experiences and potentially develop even more creative solutions.
More information about the new Bayside Village option is available on the Housing Services website.
* Housing was obviously a hot topic with everyone who opened the inaugural EVCP Expresso email. Thanks to Peter Sargent for questioning the accuracy of the originally stated 22% increase between 2000 and 2012. While accurate for that time period, the real story is the 55% jump 2000–2014 (1 bed/1 bath).
How are we cutting the red tape that hinders research?
Red tape is a bane of a researcher’s existence—processes, procedures, policies, and training to name a few. Jumping through needless hoops wastes precious time and delays progress, not to mention saps creative energy and productivity! Sound familiar? Our teams in the offices of Clinical and Translational Research (led by Jenny Grandis, Associate Vice Chancellor – Clinical and Translational Research) and Ethics and Compliance (led by Terri O’Lonergan, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer) are working hard to help our investigators spend their time as wisely and efficiently as possible.
Here is an early win: As of June 15, UCSF no longer requires its principal investigators (PIs) to obtain scientific or scholarly review or feasibility analysis before submitting a research project to the Committee on Human Research (CHR). (Exceptions are when there is a specific requirement of the PI’s division, department, or organized research unit.)
The CHR may still request a scientific review if it is unclear whether a study has adequate scientific merit in terms of research design, or whether risks to research participants are minimized. In such cases, the CHR will refer the PI to the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) CRS Protocol Services for scientific review. Assistance will be provided at no cost. We expect that removal of this barrier should save our PIs considerable time and effort.
Jenny and Terri also have identified the opportunity to reduce wait time for protocol initiation by seeing whether two important steps can be completed in parallel rather than sequentially – the CHR application submission and the request for Coverage Analysis. (Currently, UCSF’s process requires that Coverage Analysis be completed before CHR approval is given, which can delay study initiation considerably). Implementing this new approach could significantly reduce wait time, which of course means that the critical work, such as active participant recruitment, can happen sooner. Investigators can expect to see this process improvement implemented by the end of the year.
If you have questions about how this may affect your CHR submission, contact the Committee on Human Research at (415) 476-1814 or CHR@ucsf.edu, and please do not hesitate to contact Jenny or Terri directly if you have any questions regarding the change to the scientific and feasibility review requirements.
There is plenty of additional red tape across the research enterprise that we are sifting through and questioning. We look forward to getting your feedback on how this is all working, as well as your own ideas on further improvements.
What’s going on with Mission Hall?
It’s hard to believe that people started moving into the new Mission Hall building at Mission Bay almost a year ago. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on October 1, 2014!
For any of you who have anything to do with Mission Hall, you know that the layout of the building involves neighborhoods of workstations with a variety of enclosed rooms where activities requiring privacy, such as private phone conversations, meetings and team activities, can take place. It represents a fairly radical departure from the historical approach to academic workplaces. The rationale for the design, which was implemented with the best of intentions, included the expectations that it would: 1) encourage interdisciplinary collaboration (a hallmark of UCSF that has helped spur new discoveries and treatments); 2) provide workspace for clinicians working in the adjacent new hospitals and desktop researchers, in neighborhoods that can flexibly expand and contract over time; 3) reach the University’s sustainability targets; and 4) be cost-efficient.
Although some occupants are quite pleased with the design, we also have heard from others who have concerns about the building design and its impacts on occupants. A formal comprehensive workplace research study (led by Professor and Vice Chair Nancy Adler) has been underway for the past six months – the team wrapped up a series of focus groups and site observations in June and will conduct a survey of building occupants in October. The survey results are expected in November with a final report with recommendations completed in January 2016. Based on the feedback to date from about a quarter of the assigned building occupants, concerns about the building include: functionality and technology, lack of privacy and ergonomics, lack of understanding of how to use the building, and transportation/commute distance.
The input received from building occupants to date suggests that there are many ways to improve the user’s experience with the building, such as improving protocols and policies for using the space as well as communication to building occupants, creating new seat assignment zones based on activity types, dealing with acoustic issues, reconsidering the use of at least a portion of the huddle and focus rooms, better technology support, more comfortable furniture, and customizing neighborhoods, to name a few.
So, the bottom line is - we hear your feedback and are working to address it. We’re just beginning to formulate a specific plan, but you can expect to see some action within a few months.
More information about the space is available at Space@UCSF: Mission Hall.
Dan’s Tip of the Month
Looking for a great read? Check out The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, who provides insight into the remarkable qualities of the Wright family, the cultural and political impacts of the human yearning to fly, and the fundamental importance of the scientific method. What type of brothers were they? What was so special about Kitty Hawk? Believe me, it’s not just about flying kites, pedaling bikes and jumping off sand dunes!