January 4, 2016
Happy New Year! I imagine many of you are diligently working away at your new year's resolutions - best of luck! I have my own list, but I'm also sticking with last year's plan to keep offering a monthly glimpse into the workings of UCSF.
To that end, here's what I have been looking into as 2016 gets under way:
- Big Fix: Big Deal? Yes, and the easy way to improve computer security
- The Regents are Coming! The Regents are Coming! Or, how I learned to stop worrying and understand the UC Regents meetings
- Getting Careers on Track: How faculty can support their staff in the new Career Tracks system
What's on your mind? Please let me know at [email protected].
Big Fix: Big Deal? Yes, and the easy way to improve computer security
Here's a Big Problem: Health systems and universities alike have fallen victim to security breaches, as hackers made off with millions of records from UCLA Health, Anthem/Blue Cross and Columbia University (not even counting more highly publicized hacks at Home Depot, Target, and Sony Pictures). And it could absolutely happen at UCSF. More than 60,000 devices are on our network each month, and the IT department tells me it can be difficult to determine which device belongs to whom. Meanwhile, the folks in IT can see that our network is constantly being scanned, searching for a security hole. Some of these searches originate outside the U.S. In fact, one of the more unusual visitors I’ve had in recent months was an FBI agent, who wanted to make sure we realize the threat is real and continuous.
It's a wonder the IT department is able to sleep at night!
But fortunately, they have a fix – a BigFix, and it's a super easy way for each of us to do our part to patch up the holes in the system. BigFix is a tool that allows IT to determine if a computer meets UC minimum security requirements. Any computer that you use to conduct UCSF business – whether it's a laptop or a desktop, whether it's your own or owned by UCSF – must have the BigFix program installed on it. The IT department makes BigFix available for free and easy to download online, for Macs and PCs.
Since IT made BigFix available last summer, 13,000 people have downloaded it, but we need to do more. It only takes seconds, and you won't even notice it's running. Patrick Phelan, UCSF's Information Security Officer, says it ties each computer to its owner and lets IT know if it's secure. If your computer is somehow being used to siphon off terabytes of data to an unknown server in China, for example, BigFix will help IT get in touch with you to contain the problem. Finding the owner of a computer on the network can otherwise take IT hours of scouring the network. Even better, starting early 2016, BigFix will begin implementing new programs that will help make sure your operating system and antivirus software are up to date.
Be assured that there is one reason for this: safety and confidentiality of our intellectual property, records, and data. You may think, "I don't need BigFix, because I don't handle patient data." BigFix applies to all of UCSF, because hackers are looking for intellectual property, not just health records.
The data on our servers is about you, me, our patients, students, affiliates, the work we do, and the research that leads to life-changing discoveries. So stay safe, and please – get the BigFix – it is a big deal!
The Regents are Coming! The Regents are Coming! Or, how I learned to stop worrying and understand the UC Regents meetings
San Francisco is "everybody's favorite city," thanks to our mild climate, stunning views, fabulous restaurants and cultural amenities – and, I like to think, a certain world-class teaching, research, and health institution.
Many of those same factors undoubtedly appeal to the University of California Board of Regents, who hold four or five of their six annual meetings at the William J. Rutter Center located at Mission Bay. San Francisco's central and accessible location is also one of the reasons for these meetings to be held here. I've become aware that sometimes these meetings can cause disruption, whether it's parking and traffic problems or the occasional protests that can sometimes limit access to our buildings. But I want you to know, UCSF sees these meetings as an important part of life in a public university system, and we are doing everything we can to minimize disturbance to our community while ensuring the meetings take place in a peaceful, open, and transparent manner.
The Regents' role is to facilitate our mission as a public university system. Teresa Costantinidis, Interim Senior Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration, points out that these meetings are grounded in our fundamental values of open access, public discourse, and communication, as well as ensuring that the community has a voice in how the University runs. Principles such as these have enabled us to be leaders in creativity and innovation. And often we're on the agenda, as the Regents discuss UCSF's finances, or the construction of a new UCSF building.
On a practical level, the 26-member board will meet this year in January, March, May, July, September, and November. The first three will be at UCSF, with other sites announced later. Typically, one takes place in Sacramento and another at one of the other nine campuses. We will provide plenty of notice before the meetings, offering tips on how to avoid disruption.
The Regents customarily meet for three days and hear public comment on two of them. When a hot issue is on the Regents' agenda, Mike Denson, Interim Chief of UCSF Police, tells me officers from other campuses join the UCSF force. (The Regents foot the bill for this.) Contrary to what some people may think, the UC police aim to protect the public right to be heard. Sometimes, protesters try to shut down a Regents' meeting or a UCSF building. The police try to prevent both of these from happening. In instances where it does, the police may limit access to buildings around the Rutter Center, but they reopen them as soon as they can.
Most everything is relative, and in this regard I think we are quite lucky at UCSF. We tend to have fewer disruptions than other campuses, yet we still fulfill the classic role of a university as a place where important issues are debated. We should honor the Regents' requests to meet at UCSF, and and we need to preserve the public's access to these vital meetings. The department is working with the community to minimize interruptions as well as to assess the necessary level of police presence. If that means putting up with some intrusions a few times a year, it seems worth it given the larger principles at play.
Getting Careers on Track: How faculty can support their staff in the new Career Tracks system
I assume most of you are aware that many staff at UCSF perceive, for better or worse, that they are "second class citizens" without a clear path for career progression, despite the fact that we are the second largest employer in the city and over 80% staff (i.e., we have about 18,050 staff in our community of over 23,000).
I want to give you a heads up about steps the UC system is taking to try and improve the situation for staff – an initiative it's calling Career Tracks. With Career Tracks, all employees who are not represented by unions (which is about 6,635 staff) will be realigned into job classifications that more closely reflect the jobs that they're doing, as well as to similar positions in the market – within private industry and at other universities and health care systems. The intent is to set the stage toward clarifying roles, career progression, and in so doing, illustrate how critical our staff positions and roles are in relation to not only the operations of the institution but particularly to our work as researchers, educators, and clinicians.
It's especially important that faculty get on board with this initiative, making sure the people working for them are properly classified. Did you know that our current classification system was adopted in 1976?! Do you suppose any aspects of the workforce have changed in the past 40 years?
For faculty members, whose work is enabled by the support of these employees, the new system will help bring clarity to an often murky area. With the new classifications, faculty will be able to give staff members who work with them a clear path to advancement, as well as a sharper picture of what skills are needed in their jobs. Faculty should have an easier time recruiting new employees, because the job description will match definitions and job titles already common in the marketplace.
I expressed my concerns about the managerial burden this initiative would place on faculty, who I know would rather be in the classroom or the lab than poring over job descriptions, to Aron Lewis, Career Tracks Project Lead in UCSF's Campus HR Shared Services, and Katy Rau, director for Staff Shared Services for the UCSF campus. Aron and Katy assure me they have made this as painless as possible. Templates of job descriptions will be provided starting this month so you can give them a quick review and customize them as necessary, rather than trying to write a new job description from scratch. The Career Tracks website is loaded with information and resources, and they have held well-attended town hall meetings, which will be re-broadcast online so you can get the information at your leisure.
Preliminary mapping of jobs to titles has already taken place; now we'll have two rounds of mapping, one from January to May, and the other from May to September. New job titles will be announced for the campus in October, implemented in November, and the following two months, until January 2017, are reserved for reconsideration.
The Career Tracks initiative is not a salary program, so it is not designed to have an impact on employees’ base pay. During the year, supervisors will work closely with their employees to ensure that classifications make sense and fit their actual roles. This collaborative process provides an opportunity for employees and supervisors to have a conversation about roles and responsibilities which may produce changes in some job descriptions, as appropriate.
It is also important to note that, while the health system will be following a different phased implementation plan with effective dates ranging from June 2016 – December 2017, Campus Shared Services is partnering closely with UCSF Health's HR unit to ensure parity.
Thanks in advance for supporting your staff as we help better align their job descriptions to the vital functions they perform for us.
Dan's Tip of the Month
My friend and colleague Mike McCune completed his trek of the entire Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) - all 2,650 miles (4,265 km) - from Mexico to Canada, and I had the opportunity to share a tiny portion of it with him. Simply put - what Mike accomplished was extraordinary! Don't miss the opportunity to share his experience via a virtual trek - There is a road, no simple highway: hiking the Pacific Crest Trail - in Cole Hall on January 22, from 2-3pm.