EVCP Expresso – August 2017

August 1, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

I hope you are enjoying what is, at least for many of us, the relative quietude of summer! This is a particularly good time for thinking about plans for the academic year ahead, so I’d like to tell you about some opportunities available to people who’d like to move into leadership roles, whether on a local level or looking University-wide. I’ll also let you know about some creative ideas on how we can improve our workplace culture in the coming year, and I’ll bring you up to date on construction at Mission Bay since I wrote last month about construction at Parnassus.

But before I get into this month’s topics, I want to remind you about the UC Advocacy Network (UCAN) call-to-action campaign in support of the federal investment in education and research funding. As Congress gets ready for its August recess – without approved funding for the next fiscal year – our legislators need to hear from us. Please join the cause and ask Congress to invest in education and research programs. Each voice is crucial. Take action here!

Now, for August’s topics:

Speaking of leadership, please welcome Chris Shaffer, our new university librarian and assistant vice chancellor—academic information management who just started today! (See: article on UCSF.edu.) His vision for the future of libraries, coupled with his well-rounded experience and perspectives in library science, are certain to introduce an exciting new era in knowledge creation and access for UCSF. Stay tuned for more about Chris in a later issue.

Have comments or feedback? Do you have a topic you’d like me to cover in an upcoming Expresso? Please contact me at [email protected]. I appreciate your emails and all the ways you engage with this newsletter.




Step into Leadership: UCSF Coro prepares faculty for new opportunities

A 2001 campus climate study gave hard evidence to something UCSF’s leadership suspected—women at UCSF felt the climate needed much improvement (see note). One step the University took at the time was to bring in Coro, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in San Francisco in 1942 focused on redefining leadership. (The founders made up the name “Coro” for their program; the letters don’t stand for anything. The program’s been a big hit, and counts many members of Congress and business leaders among its alumni, including Senator Dianne Feinstein.)

The UCSF Faculty Leadership Collaborative, based on the Coro approach and currently still led by Coro, was launched in 2006 and has run continuously since. Its goal is to create a network of leaders, and according to Irené Merry, coordinator of the Campus Council on Faculty Life, 180 faculty members have completed the full ten-day program since its inception. Many others have taken shorter versions of the program, with the most popular being a half-day introductory course to get a taste of some of the tools Coro offers. The full program cycles every 18 months at UCSF, and applicants must be specifically approved by their department chair since participation requires each faculty member to take a full day off every other week for the duration of the course. But, believe me, the time is worth it.

Participants report that the program has led to personal growth, increased self-awareness, confidence and new aspirations, as well as practical skills such as conflict resolution, agenda-setting and time management. It also has paid back some nice dividends to UCSF, with seven percent of graduates having moved into leadership positions at the dean or department chair level. Other graduates have taken on leadership roles and opportunities at various operational posts on the organizational chart, but we don’t track those numbers. For example, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Brian Alldredge says when he needs someone to chair a task force, he’ll go to the list of Coro graduates. That kind of experience is great on your CV and can lead to future promotions and career opportunities.

One of the best features is that Academic Affairs graciously assumes the cost, rather than department budgets. In addition, departments like the program because it frees people from traveling away from UCSF for leadership development and is a shared experience with colleagues across the campus.

I’m especially happy to see that women and under-represented minorities are availing themselves of the program, which is open to everyone. While women make up 48 percent of UCSF’s faculty, they account for 70 percent of our Coro graduates; under-represented minorities make up less than seven percent of our faculty but 12 percent of our Coro graduates; and, all graduates who became deans or department chairs were women or minorities. These are good statistics. But, as Brian says, “There’s still room for improvement in terms of diversifying the leadership at UCSF.”

Bottom line – this is a great opportunity if you aspire to taking on a leadership role. And it is helping to ensure that our community is guided by talented, committed, and effective leaders – ideally, people who put our collective needs as their highest priority. 

Note: In finalizing this story I just learned from Brian that the latest faculty survey indicates we have a lot more work to do in this area – I’ll provide an update on this in an upcoming edition of Expresso.

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Great People, Great Place: Improving UCSF’s workplace culture

At UCSF, we talk a lot about personal excellence, our national prominence, and the wonderful work we do in the realms of research, education, and patient care. But are we a great place to work? Feedback tells us there’s more to do.

Last year, we started an initiative called Great People, Great Place (GPGP), aimed at achieving that goal. A robust committee representing a healthy cross-section of UCSF is in the middle of a three-year process to guide the effort to make UCSF a “best place to work, learn, teach, and discover.” Leeane Jensen, executive director of Wellbeing Services and Operations in Campus Life Services, already had been envisioning the concept of “best place to work” and what it would mean for UCSF. Her premise being, if we improve people’s experience of their work life, wellbeing will increase, thereby enhancing recruitment, retention, and engagement.

One of the main things learned within its first year was the realization that, as a university, we had never explicitly stated our values. Fortunately, UCSF Medical Center adopted the PRIDE Values—Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity and Excellence—in 2000.  It made perfect sense to extend the PRIDE Values university-wide, and thanks to GPGP, that was accomplished last year. This initiative also fits into our goal of “One UCSF,” putting us all on the same page in our shared mission.

Another theme uncovered through the GPGP initiative is that we share the need for “more of a culture of positivity and recognition,” Leeane says. Achieving that goal is multi-faceted, and communication is a critical component of engagement and culture, so we worked with an outside firm with expertise in organizational internal communications and conducted a series of focus groups, leader interviews, and a campus-wide survey towards that objective (you will hear more about the findings and recommendations of that project in the coming months).

Another facet is that Leeane and her team, including representatives from Human Resources, will be working on developing great managers and leaders. The goal is to help managers incorporate communication and recognition into their leadership role and the culture within their unit in order to positively affect employee purpose. We’ll be applying “lean thinking” and “A3 problem-solving”—famous managerial theories developed at Toyota and adopted worldwide—to gather feedback and involve people at all levels of the organization. “It’s a process that breaks down barriers and silos so you’re working up, down, and across, instead of in a bubble,” Leeane says. “We’ll be asking the people doing the actual work how things can be improved, and leaders will go to the front lines to get experience and hear feedback.”

In addition, I’m looking forward to the launch of a new project this fall that puts recognition at our fingertips and enables each of us to give “a daily high-five,” which will work like a Facebook feed, where you can thank or give a shout-out to a colleague in real time for a job well done.

One thing that excites me about these efforts is that they dovetail with something I’ve been kicking around with my colleague John Fahy, professor in the Department of Medicine. John has been involved in our efforts to reimagine the Parnassus campus and is encouraging us to think even bigger. As we reimagine our physical space, he asks, shouldn’t we also reimagine our culture?

It’s a great point, as the two go hand-in-hand. “As we build a new Parnassus campus, we have to imagine it as the best place to work,” John says. He calls it “neighborhood creation,” saying, “There has to be some attention to employee need, making more social spaces, interaction spaces, a Main Street type of infrastructure, with proper places for people to interact and gather.” And we should take the opportunity that the new space will provide to improve the organizational culture. He’s taking some of his cues from Silicon Valley, which has not only disrupted various industries, but has also innovated in creating better work environments (He suggests reading this article about how Google creates a culture where employees love to work there, and this one on how the built environment can affect employee happiness and productivity).  Research into the elements that underpin the best workplace cultures consistently emphasize the need to create jobs that employees find purposeful and over which they have some flexibility and control.

And John goes so far as to suggest that our ambitious goal of having the “best university in the world” can actually be damaging by creating a form of emotional pressure that can be counter-productive. Rather, John adds, “How about we strive for UCSF to be the best university in the world in which to work.”  If we achieve that, then we can be confident that excellence and everything else will follow.

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Building Mission Bay: More construction ahead

Everyone knows the story of how Mission Bay campus has grown from empty rail yards and warehouses eighteen years ago to a vibrant hub of research, learning, and patient care today. Yet it’s not finished growing, and that can bring its own challenges to those of us who are based or need to regularly travel there.

Work on six different projects in Mission Bay started this summer, and that’s just at UCSF. Uber is building its new headquarters in the neighborhood, the Warriors have broken ground on their new arena complex, and the Giants are building the Mission Rock development. I’m not going to sugarcoat it—you can expect some number of headaches for the foreseeable future!

The UCSF projects include:

  • A new child care facility that will offer significantly expanded capacity, improving the lives of parents who work or attend school at UCSF.
  • Nearly 600 units of student housing to open in the Dogpatch neighborhood in 2019, “to insulate students and trainees from the high cost of housing in San Francisco,” says Clare Shinnerl, associate vice chancellor for Campus Life Services.
  • The Joan and Sanford Weill Neurosciences Institute, which started construction in June at the site of the surface parking lot on Fourth Street near Mission Hall.
  • A new vision center and office building, still unnamed and known by the unglamorous moniker of Building 33.
  • A building for a Child, Teen and Family Center and the Department of Psychiatry, set to start construction in Dogpatch this winter.
  • The Precision Cancer Medicine Building, which will be a new hospital wing at the corner of 16th and Third streets.

Also, Mission Bay Development Group will have a utility project going on Third Street while we will have one up and running on Fourth Street as well as another one paving the dirt lots near the roundabout on Owens Street.

“All of this construction has an impact on your life,” acknowledges Clare. “There will be dust and noise.” “And the traffic gets worse and worse,” adds CLS project manager Dani Cambier.

To help mitigate the ongoing impact, we’re giving folks plenty of ways to stay informed about the construction and give feedback on how we’re doing. You can check the construction impacts website. It features a commute planner, excellent maps, timelines, and information on each project. A feedback button lets you tell us what’s working and what isn’t, or you can send an email.

You can also follow Campus Life Services on Twitter and Facebook for major alerts, and you can subscribe to a construction impacts email newsletter. Because many of those alerts get lost in the flood that inundates our inboxes, we’re also putting up a lot of physical signs at the locations where changes are coming. For instance, signs alerted people that a key parking lot on Fourth Street in Mission Bay was closing, and we also put flyers on cars and had people directing traffic on the first day to ease the confusion caused by the disruption.

Both UCSF and non-campus construction planners are keeping Clare’s office informed, so they can pass along updates to the UCSF community in real time. But we are pretty sure not everything will run perfectly smoothly, so Clare has a request: “Please be nice to us, and forgiving. Our motto in Campus Life Services is to make life better. We’re trying to be proactive.”

Honestly, stay informed about what’s going on with all these projects and how they may have an impact on your work life and consider the construction impacts website your go-to resource – it’s really good…

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Dan’s Tip of the Month

Nate Butkus with headphones and microphoneThere’s no need for me to remind everyone how important it is for us to speak up and speak out about the importance of science (and the search for truth) to society. This includes getting the attention of the next generation. If you have any young children around you, then you’ve GOT to check out the science podcasts of 6-year-old Nate Butkus. The cuteness factor is off the charts, but more importantly, I’d love to know if the podcasts really do grab the attention of your young’uns…

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