EVCP Expresso – November 2017

November 1, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

It’s been a tough twelve months. We’ve been pummeled with a lot of disheartening events and news – and that doesn’t take into account what might be happening in our own lives. But it has reinforced one area of self-awareness for me – I am someone who is eternally grateful. Gratitude is a big reason that I have a sense of peace about my life, despite all of the challenges – enormous and minute – that come my way, as they do for us all in one way or another.

I’m also grateful that you take the time to read my monthly installments of Expresso, and I thank all of you who have written to respond to something you’ve read or to suggest a topic. Keep the emails coming!

Speaking of which, this month I’ll cover:

One thing that I definitely enjoy and appreciate is the ability to travel the world, and in a past issue I wrote about being safe while traveling. If you’re planning a trip, I encourage you to attend the Global Travel Risk Awareness and Response Training, on November 14, 9 a.m.-12 noon, in Byers Hall at Mission Bay. Here’s the agenda.

I also remind all faculty to join me at our last two CAFÉ Expresso events on November 2 and 16. Free espresso beverages are made to order (there’s chai latte and hot chocolate for non-coffee drinkers) and a sweet treat is always at the ready! On November 2, Gretchen Kiser, the executive director of the Research Development Office, will be available in case you have questions about funding strategies. On November 16, welcome new School of Nursing Dean Catherine Gilliss – she’ll be there from 2-3 p.m. A research librarian from the UCSF Library will be present for both events. Come on by – you never know who else you might meet!

Until then, warm regards,



Nice Job!: Fostering a culture of recognition

It’s so important to recognize people’s good work. A little acknowledgment goes a long way toward communicating to others that they are appreciated and valued. When I send a note of recognition, whether I receive an acknowledgment or not, I hope I’ve made someone’s day, at least in part. I also feel a little frisson of goodwill knowing I am privileged to work in a special place where so much good work happens all the time, and I hope others do too.

Susan Pappas, division director of UCSF Health Experience Excellence, explains, “There are numerous studies on the relationship between gratitude and work engagement. We know that when people feel appreciated, and think they’re making meaningful contributions that are valued in the organization, there is a positive effect; they stay longer, they report a sense of belonging, motivation increases, relationships strengthen and they connect more to the mission.”

Susan was asked two years ago to lead an effort to create a scalable model of recognition that leveraged existing platforms, was easily accessed by all UCSF Health employees, was simple to use and had sustainability. That required taking an inventory of all existing recognition efforts at UCSF Health, plus revamping the medical center’s annual honors and awards ceremony.

Leeane Jensen, executive director of Wellbeing Services and Operations in Campus Life Services, took notice of Susan’s efforts, and they’ve teamed up to bring the recognition concept to the campus side of our operation as well.

Leeane has been working on the Great People, Great Place initiative (which I wrote about in the August Expresso), designed to make UCSF a great place to work. Her group noticed that there was no shortage of effort at UCSF to recognize people’s good work—we have Founders Day, the Chancellor Awards, and programs in the individual schools—but there was no central mechanism to help instill and spread recognition as a daily practice.

The result, after much consultation and discussion, is a new recognition tool everyone can use, available at recognize.ucsf.edu. (You need to log in with MyAccess.) It uses software purchased from Business International and administered by SOM Tech, an IT services group within the School of Medicine. A video shows how simply it works.

When you log in, you’ll see the recognition tool, which operates in a way familiar to anyone who’s been on social media sites like Facebook. You can:

  • filter by groups in case you only want to see your team or department
  • follow people and see who’s recognizing whom
  • send a note telling someone how you appreciate their work – which ensures their manager sees it, too
  • keep notes private, because although many people like public recognition, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

After a brief soft launch, recognize.ucsf.edu went live in September. “We’re trying to spread the word and spread a culture of recognition starting with the new platform,” says Leeane.

“It’s a good place to go when you’re feeling low, so you can remind yourself of all the good work you’ve done,” Susan says.

I encourage all managers to take the time and teach their teams to use the tool. It can be a lot of fun. And, managers can use it for multiple purposes, such as pulling a list of who on their team has been recognized or has been giving recognition.

Susan is trying to make recognition a daily practice. One of Leeane’s colleagues says that she uses it on Thursdays and Fridays, because those are the days with an “R” – for Recognition – in them. What a great idea! In fact, I’ll log on and send a note to Leeane and Susan, recognizing them on their excellent work.

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Expanding Library Access: Responding to our students

As a UCSF alum, faculty member, physician, and now its EVCP, my experience with the Library comes from many perspectives. I have seen time and time again that the Library is a vital place for community, collaboration, and change at UCSF. One aspect of change that the Library has boldly stepped forward to explore is space – specifically, space in the Parnassus Library.

In 2015, we received over 1,600 responses from students, faculty, and staff to a survey about the Library’s services and resources, followed by over 800 responses to a 2017 survey on the Library’s physical space. Click on the links (and use the available tabs) to read the comments and ratings for areas of improvement.

The feedback was very clear that action and improvements were needed, especially to our physical spaces at the Library, and in particular, there was a need for more UCSF-dedicated space. As a result, we are launching what we are calling the Parnassus Library Redesign Project to expand physical access at the Parnassus Library for students and others within the UCSF community. The Library has been devoted to serving the ever-changing needs of those within UCSF and beyond, and this redesign is the next substantial step to ensure that it continues to meet the learning and working demands of students, faculty, and staff.

Unfortunately, full access to the Library for the general public has led to a consistent and increasing number of disturbing activities that have caused significant concern for our students and other regular users. To better manage this, and still make sure our Library is available to the public, these modifications will help maintain a positive environment that is welcoming and safe for students and others at UCSF.

Here are a few of the key changes that will take place as part of the project:

  • All five floors of the Parnassus Library will be dedicated to the UCSF community, which includes patients and their families and affiliates of other UC campuses.
  • The main floor of the Library will become a 24/7 space accessible to UCSF students, faculty, and staff.
  • Public access to the physical space will shift to the Hearst Room, with its own entrance to the left of the main entrance of the Library. The Hearst Room will be renovated to provide a dynamic and welcoming space where we can continue to deliver quality service and resources to the public.

The Library is committed to continuing to meet the standards best described by two of its organizational values: Remain responsive to our community and inspire learning (not to mention the UCSF PRIDE value of excellence). We are working hard to ensure that the Library’s primary stakeholders – UCSF students – have full access to an environment designed to maximize their ability to learn with minimal distraction. New University Librarian and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Information Management Chris Shaffer also emphasizes, “We want to maintain high quality services for the public while improving the benefits we offer to our core clientele. We are focused on continuing to provide access for the public in an environment that provides safety for everyone.”

In recent years, the Library has accomplished a great deal and been at the forefront of change:

  • Establishing the Data Science Initiative, a hub to “help researchers better manage data in support of reproducibility,” as Chris puts it.
  • Installing a gathering space on the main floor, followed by opening the cafe.
  • Establishing the Makers Lab, a space for UCSF students, faculty, and staff to explore their creativity for both work and fun.
  • Securing a major grant to collaborate with the San Francisco Public Library and the AIDS Heritage Foundation to digitize the history of the AIDS epidemic, making materials available online for anyone to use.
  • Integrating the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center Library into the UCSF Library system. While the two were already closely connected, this creates new opportunities to collaborate on clinical research and focus on health disparities.
  • Increasing support for Open Access and the OA2020 Agreement.
  • Implementing some immediate upgrades to seating and signage throughout the Library.

I am confident that this next chapter of Library evolution will help UCSF maintain its status as a leading university for learners of today and leaders of tomorrow. While the timeline has yet to be confirmed, Library staff are taking initial steps to guide the project with a series of feedback and brainstorming sessions for students, faculty, staff, and local community members. Join the Parnassus Library Entrance Redesign Project email list to get updates, including the dates of the sessions. Your feedback and ideas are welcome, and you can send them to [email protected].

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“For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything thy goodness sends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even in a year that is fraught with despair and disharmony—hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, shootings, and an often toxic and dispiriting brand of politics—we can always find a reason to be thankful. I’m immensely grateful for what life has given me. I’m fortunate to have been born into an intact family and to have wonderful, loving, and supportive relationships with many people. For me, the more disheartening the circumstances, the more I seek to appreciate the positive aspects of life.

I know San Francisco Giants fans are disappointed about this season, but I am struck by one of the club’s longtime stars who ended the season on a note of grace. Matt Cain accomplished a feat that’s now all too uncommon, retiring after spending his entire career with one team. Cain wrote a beautiful essay. “To the city of San Francisco,” he wrote, “what I gave you guys is 15 years of baseball. And what you gave me back is an entire life.”

Any of us who gets engaged with a community or an institution will relate.

Cain’s essay inspired me to look for other ways people express gratitude. After all, it is November, the season of Thanksgiving. I came across plenty of schmaltz but found a lot of great work too. The Songfacts website has assembled a list of songs about gratitude and hope, from Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving classic, “Alice’s Restaurant,” to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World. There are a number I’d add to the list, including one that, every time I hear it, fills me with hope that the best parts of humanity will prevail: John McCutcheon’s “Christmas in the Trenches.”

If you’re into poetry, the Poetry Foundation offers poems of gratitude for all occasions, from Robert Hayden’s poignant reminiscence of the thankless tasks his father performed on “Those Winter Sundays” to Dorothea Grossman’s simple thanks “For Allen Ginsberg.”

You may appreciate a more scientific approach. Dr. Robert A. Emmons, a professor of psychology at UC Davis, is perhaps “the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude,” and has studied the many ways a practice of gratitude can benefit our health. In an essay, “Why Gratitude is Good,” Dr. Emmons explains that by giving thanks, “We affirm that there are good thing[s] in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.” This list of books, assembled by the Positive Psychology Program, includes three titles written, or co-written, by Dr. Emmons. The list concludes with the final book from the great neurologist Oliver Sacks, titled simply Gratitude.

Perhaps you turn to a particular poem, song, or book that resonates with gratitude or hope during trying times. If you’d like to share it, please send it to me at [email protected], and I’ll post a few on our website.

And if I haven’t said it lately, thank you.

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Dan’s Tip of the Month

No doubt, many of you have heard that exposure to blue (short wavelength) light at night is deleterious to falling asleep. This is due in part to the effects that different wavelengths have on melatonin production and our circadian clock. We now live in a world where we gaze into light sources at night like never before – i.e., computer screens, handheld devices, etc. Most of you probably know that iPhones (and similar devices) have a “Night Shift” setting that reduces the blue light at night. But there’s a really cool (no pun intended) app that offers more customization, f.lux, that I just learned about from Melina Uncapher, one of our many neurology faculty stars. You can download it for free for a variety of devices/platforms. F.lux tracks the ambient light and slowly softens the hues of your computer screen as night falls, which should theoretically help lull you to sleep. I’ve been using it for the past week and, as I write this near midnight, it seems to be doing its magic! Check…it……out……………

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