October 2, 2017
Many of us woke to the tragic news about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The loss of even one innocent life is too many, and when I think about the number of people whose lives will never be the same as a consequence of the deaths and injuries.….it’s overwhelming. Our thoughts and hearts are with the family and friends who are grieving the loss of loved ones, as well as with the health care providers who are confronted with the physical and emotional effects of last night’s violence.
And, although one would have thought the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was the ultimate lesson, I hope this latest horror in the ever-expanding list of mass shootings leads us to take action on the insanity of gun proliferation in our country.
Knowing that our lives often seem encumbered by such weighty issues these days, whether at home or around the globe, what follows is this month’s Expresso, planned before this most recent news. In it, I address topics that share a common theme – ensuring the well-being of people in our lives. Whether in the workplace, in our family, or in another part of our nation or world, I’ll touch on the efforts and services available that support all of us while we commit so much to our work.
Please read on:
- Faculty Climate: More work to be done
- Your Family: Services to help care for the people in your life
- GDAC: Monitoring world disasters and UCSF’s potential role
Also, thank you to those who came to CAFÉ Expresso last month. This month’s dates are October 5 and 19. Remember, faculty – it’s just for you and it’s free!
And, please mark your calendars to attend Chancellor Sam Hawgood’s State of the University address on October 27.
I’m sure many of you will have opinions about the above as well as other topics. I’d love to hear them. Please get in touch at [email protected].
Faculty Climate: More work to be done
For the third time since 2001, we’ve surveyed our faculty to check in about how people perceive the climate on campus. These surveys are useful tools to identify ways to improve that climate, so that people of all backgrounds can feel satisfied in their jobs, their opportunities to advance their careers, and the integration of all the important facets of life beyond their work.
Former Chancellor J. Michael Bishop initiated the first such survey out of concern about the climate for women faculty, and it led directly to several initiatives, including the establishment of the Campus Council on Family Life (CCFL), which increased opportunities for mentorship, and the UCSF-Coro Faculty Leadership Collaborative, a program built to help prepare people for leadership roles. (I wrote about Coro in the August 2017 Expresso.)
The next survey, conducted in 2011, showed some improvement and was also expanded to gauge the perspective of underrepresented minorities. Despite the progress, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Brian Alldredge still perceived that some faculty were growing increasingly frustrated with aspects of the campus climate. “People were saying that ‘UCSF is continuing to grow, in philanthropy, in buildings, but things are challenging for me as a faculty member. Is anybody paying attention to me?’” Brian says. “I was hearing from women faculty about their perceptions of unequal treatment. It surprised me, not to hear it once or twice, but to hear it repeatedly.”
So, Brian commissioned another survey. As in 2011, the results this year showed some signs of further progress, but also indicated many areas where significant effort is needed in order to improve. You can read about the survey and results on the Academic Affairs website.
Overall, the survey showed that three-fourths of faculty express satisfaction with their work at UCSF, 60 percent have taken part in a CCFL program, the mentoring program has been a great success, and the climate for LGBTQ faculty appears to be generally positive.
However, it also revealed several areas of dissatisfaction:
- Financial concerns weigh more heavily on faculty than in the past, including the difficulty of obtaining grants, salaries that aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, and the strain of longer commutes. This is no surprise to anyone tracking the rising cost of housing in the Bay Area.
- Half the faculty surveyed feels their work at UCSF is too stressful.
- Women perceive unequal treatment in greater numbers than in 2011.
- Underrepresented minority faculty hold less positive views about the climate than non-minorities.
- Satisfaction has declined regarding support for parental leave.
Not only are these results disappointing, but the perceptions of unequal treatment are particularly distressing to me and contrary to the values that we all share. I’ve thus asked Brian to assemble a diverse committee with broad representation across the campus to look at the issues raised in the survey and propose solutions as quickly as possible. An important part of this committee’s work will be to ensure that faculty have an opportunity to relay their experiences and provide input on an action plan to address the key areas of concern. This action plan will be submitted to Chancellor Sam Hawgood and me for review.
The plan could include renewed support for some initiatives already under way. We know, thanks to salary studies, that we have an imbalance based on gender, and we’ve been working to fix that since 2012. Unfortunately, the solution is not easy and it’s taking time to correct it, but we feel we are moving in the right direction. Another committee that Brian has spearheaded launched a Faculty Family Friendly Initiative last year to improve family-life issues, such as making childbearing and childrearing leave policies and practices equitable across UCSF. Stay tuned for some very positive news on this front as well.
Elizabeth Ozer, chair of the University of California Systemwide Committee on the Status of Women and a member of the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women at UCSF, explains that this survey and others show that while women make up nearly half of all faculty, they are a far smaller percentage of department chairs, deans, and directors of research units, indicating a blockage in the pipeline. “I believe we’ve made a lot of progress at UCSF, but what we’re seeing now is not just a 2017 finding,” Elizabeth says. “We’ve been seeing this for several years. There’s still work to be done.” She urges everyone to check out the recommendations for how individuals can help ensure a fair workplace for women.
Renee Navarro, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach, is concerned that the survey revealed a disturbing disconnect between how women and underrepresented minorities perceive their treatment, and how others perceive it. While the majority of faculty believe things are improving, women and underrepresented minorities still experience significant inequities.
“This is consistent with what a Pew Research poll showed us about race in America. People think underrepresented minorities (and women) are better off and progressing so much better, and that’s not the lived experience,” Renee says. “What we have are inequities across all industries, including UCSF. Unless we are intentional and continuously vigilant, then the biases will creep back in, and we’ll go back to the same old structures we have seen for far too long.”
She welcomes the committee looking at the survey and reiterates that it is important to make sure all voices are heard. “Inclusion means that all faculty have opportunities to be part of the conversation and the decision-making. We need to avoid allowing women and underrepresented minorities (any faculty member) to experience isolation, micro-aggressions, and feeling like they’re not part of the whole, in meaningful ways. That’s an active process.” Fortunately, all of the above offers an opportunity to reinforce UCSF’s PRIDE values – Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity and Excellence – and, as Renee says, to “recommit to accountability to deal with the issues identified, specifically as they relate to eliminating barriers to opportunities for inclusion and advancement for all groups.”
According to Renee, “at the end of the day, we all desire the same thing. We want to be seen. We want to be included. We don’t want to be subjected to undermining, based on gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ status, disability, or other characteristics. Let individuals be able to contribute their best and be a full participant in all the amazing opportunities that UCSF affords.”
Recently I spoke about these issues at Faculty Development Day, so some of this may sound familiar. We all have an obligation to participate in the active process of ensuring that everyone is part of the conversation – especially those of us in the UCSF community, like me, who are in positions of privilege. And by privilege, I don’t mean the leadership function we fulfill at UCSF, but the privilege that comes by virtue of how we were born into this world. I ask that you acknowledge it, be an ally to someone who does not have the same privilege, and actively join me in bettering the climate for all UCSF faculty. It’s imperative…
Your Family: Services to help care for the people in your life
In keeping with our commitment to improve the climate at UCSF, I’m providing an update about new initiatives and resources as well as reminding you of established programs that are designed to help with work-life-family balance.
UCSF’s Family Services offers a number of fantastic programs that can help in this regard, including both child and elder care. Suzie Kirrane, Family Services manager, tells of three new benefits:
New Mission Bay Child Care Center: Scheduled to open in spring 2018, this new modular facility will expand our Mission Bay capacity from 85 children to 272. The old center at 1555 Sixth Street will become surface parking, and we’ll have the new center for about ten years while planning continues for a permanent child care location at or near Mission Bay.
The site will include 18 classrooms, 14,000 square feet of playground space, art rooms, and a dedicated lactation room. It will sit on a tree-lined path on Nelson Rising Lane, a block from the Rutter Center and convenient to all the Mission Bay buildings. It will be built using modular construction and will be run by Bright Horizons, our longtime child care partners.
“We have a healthy-sized wait pool at all of our campus locations,” Suzie says. This expansion won’t eliminate that entirely, but it will help.
MyFamily Web Portal: Committees looking at how to make UCSF more family-friendly and elevate the status of women proposed an online directory that could help connect faculty and staff with support and resources for families. We know a good idea when we hear one, and we’ve launched the site, myfamily.ucsf.edu.
According to Suzie, “Every time a new family arrives at UCSF, or someone begins a family, they’re starting from scratch. Many are looking to build a support network.”
This new site gives them a great starting point, with a list of resources at UCSF, in San Francisco, and beyond. It gives ideas for new and expecting parents; advice on how to plan parental leave, child care, and your return to work; and what policies may apply to your situation. If you have any suggestions for other resources to add, please let Suzie know!
Elder Care Resources: UCSF offers three different services for eligible faculty, all under-utilized. Under the Bright Horizons Care Advantage program, we offer Years Ahead and Sittercity. To take advantage of either one, you’ll need to register on the Care Advantage site, but it’s a UCSF benefit. The Back-up Care program, also provided by Bright Horizons, is a separate program for faculty which provides up to ten days of adult or child care per year.
- Years Ahead puts you in touch with a certified senior care advisor (typically with a master’s in social work) who can provide support, guidance, and elder care planning. They’ll assess your needs and provide referrals and options, regardless of whether the elderly person in your life lives nearby or across the country.
- Sittercity is an online tool to search for people who can provide one-on-one adult or elder care in your home. You can see providers’ experience and qualifications, as well as Yelp-style reviews. This can help with either ongoing care or just the occasional need.
- Back-up Care Advantage provides eligible faculty up to ten days of care per year. Faculty have even used it for themselves, if they need light assistance when they’re home recovering from an injury or ailment, or for an adult partner or spouse. Suzie describes it as very flexible. Copays apply, but they are subsidized by UCSF, so it’s much less than it would be if you had to hire someone independently. The program used to require an annual enrollment fee, but this year the Academic Senate is sponsoring the program, and the fee is waived.
“I’ve been invited to speak at various department and campus meetings, and what I hear is that people want and value flexibility,” Suzie says. “Everyone’s situation is different. All three of these programs are designed to offer supportive flexibility for all needs, locally and nationally.”
Families starting from scratch are not a new phenomenon. Caring for those you love is less challenging with the help of your community – real or virtual. Please avail yourself of these resources!
GDAC: Monitoring world disasters and UCSF’s potential role
It’s not uncommon, when a medical need arises somewhere in the world, that UCSF’s compassionate faculty, staff, and students want to help. Many of us got into the health professions for exactly that reason. Until a few years ago, however, our response to these circumstances was handled on an ad hoc basis.
When the Ebola crisis hit West Africa in 2014 and President Barack Obama called on American health professionals to respond and assist, several UCSF health providers felt compelled to travel and help provide relief. “It was a clear call to action,” says Theresa (Terri) O’Brien, associate chancellor, “but, because of the deadly and highly contagious nature of Ebola, we needed to put certain procedures in place to make sure people traveling to the region would be safe, and that they would not pose any risk to others when they returned.” We convened a singular Ebola Task Force, quickly establishing guidance, which directed people going into the affected region to get training from the Centers for Disease Control and travel with a reputable organization, such as Doctors Without Borders.
Following Ebola in 2016, the Zika outbreak caused widespread concern abroad and at home. This time, we held a symposium about the virus to create dialogue among researchers, health providers, and academic institutions, and, once again, UCSF scientists were at the forefront of understanding a global crisis. Read more.
To get us out of reactive mode with each global crisis, Chancellor Hawgood convened a task force to make recommendations about whether a standing committee should be established. The result is the Global Disaster Assistance Committee (GDAC), which now has its own webpage where you can learn about the university’s official response to certain situations, such as the recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the earthquakes in Mexico. Terri co-leads GDAC with George Rutherford, vice chair, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and a former health officer for the state of California.
“Our goal is to assist in any way we can, and we want to make sure that the assistance is actually assistance,” George says. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, he says, “lots of people showed up to help, but it was disorganized, and dealing with volunteers took effort away from relief efforts. We want to avoid that.”
“We want to make sure people know that UCSF has brought together individuals with the breadth of expertise needed to monitor these situations,” says Terri. “There’s a structure, and the right people are talking to each other to facilitate what’s been a long history at UCSF of providing assistance in times of national or international disasters.”
One altruistic action that came out of the Ebola crisis was prompted by the desire of faculty and staff to help those who couldn’t go themselves but wanted to donate their vacation or other leave time to those who could. UCSF, working with the UC Office of the President, was able to make that happen, and would consider doing the same in future crises.
Most recently, September 2017 took an extremely heavy toll in the southeastern United States, Caribbean, U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and in Mexico. UCSF has not received any official requests for aid, but GDAC is closely monitoring these situations and stands ready in the event that assistance is requested. Please visit the GDAC webpage for updates about how you can help.
As the world experiences severe and fatal conditions, such as the devastation in Sierra Leone and South Asia, UCSF stands ready to assist with the recovery efforts resulting from these and other recent national and international disasters. To borrow a phrase from Rogue One, “What chance do we have? The question is what choice.”
Dan’s Tip of the Month
Many years ago, as a twenty-something trekking in Nepal, I couldn’t help but notice my inability to keep up with elderly Nepali walkers who seemed at least 3–4 times my age. It was there that I learned the “Nepali Climb Step,” an age-old hiking technique that I am sure must be used by people living in mountainous regions all over the world, and something I’ve adopted ever since. While hiking in Yosemite this weekend with my wife, Mylo, I was reminded that a lot of people don’t seem to be aware of this concept. So, at the risk of suggesting I know something about walking that you may not, please take one minute to check out this demo!
Bonus tip: I strongly recommend trekking poles for hiking on uneven terrain – preserves joints and prevents falls!