EVCP Expresso – October 2019

Dear Colleagues,

More change – and much anticipated external pressure – has come to UCSF Mission Bay, as the first NBA game at the Chase Center takes place this month, right in the midst of the excitement and demands of the new academic year when the stresses of learners and educators alike need care and attention.

Updates on those topics form the basis of this month’s Expresso, along with significant news about changes to campus leadership – three hires that showcase both our never-ending quest for excellence and our commitment to diversity.

This month’s topics:

And, as the academic year gets into full swing, there are always a number of interesting things going on at UCSF.

I encourage you to register for Memory Lives On: Documenting the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, put on by UCSF Archives and Special Collections. This interdisciplinary symposium on October 4-5 explores and reflects on topics related to archives and the practice of documenting the stories of HIV/AIDS. In addition, Chancellor Sam Hawgood will present his State of the University Address on October 15 – looking back on what we’ve accomplished over his past five years as chancellor and where we’re headed. And…last month brought the exciting news that David Julius received a 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his research into deciphering what is behind our ability to sense pain. Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2020 Breakthrough Prize Symposium which will be held this year at UCSF on November 4. David will be one of the panelists, and the entire UCSF community is invited to attend – it will also be live-streamed. (I attended the Symposium last year down at Stanford, and the talks covering a range of disciplines were off-the-charts great.)

Send me your thoughts on these matters, or whatever might be on your mind. Just drop me a line at [email protected].



Making Strides: New leaders bring fresh ideas and perspectives

Have you read about the three new leadership appointments at UCSF: Corey Jackson, chief human resources officer; Francesca Vega, vice chancellor for Community and Government Relations; and Won Ha, vice chancellor for Communications?

“It’s always good for the organization to continue to evolve and get new voices at the table,” says Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach Renee Navarro. “To also add the level of diversity that these three recruits bring is really promising. It’s a positive move for our institution. To stay innovative and on the cutting edge, we need to have diverse voices and perspectives within our leadership.”

It’s no accident that UCSF wound up with an outstanding and diverse talent pool from which to select its next leaders in these areas – ones that have wide-ranging impact across the University. Renee and her team in the Office of Diversity and Outreach invested a lot of time and work toward building a search process that reflects best practices and UCSF’s commitment to diversity. And the members of the Chancellor’s Executive Team were extremely supportive and involved in the process.

“Over the course of many years, we’ve been working to ensure that our procedures and practices align with our commitment to equity and inclusion,” Renee says. That means communicating that commitment to the search firms that we work with, so that they bring us an inclusive roster of qualified candidates. (That’s sometimes an uphill battle. “The search firms need more training on unconscious bias,” Renee says.)

Another key component involves having applicants complete a statement on their contributions to diversity, which we now require of candidates for all faculty positions. This statement asks: “How will you contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion? And what have you done in the past?”

Not only does that part of the application process elicit some fascinating and insightful answers, but it also signals to applicants that UCSF is serious in its commitment to these values.

“We wanted to steer away from the question that comes up in hiring committees: ‘What do you think about diversity?’” says Alejandra Rincón, assistant vice chancellor and chief of staff in the Office of Diversity and Outreach, “where applicants often answer with platitudes. When we ask them to write about their commitment to diversity in their work life, it gives the expectation that they have done something, and will do something, which is really more concrete.”

Data from the Chancellor’s Leadership Forum on Diversity and Inclusion held last April showed no under-represented minorities at the top managerial level, M4. There were only 79 Latinx people at levels M1 to M3, and numbers were even lower for African Americans. Alejandra says these new hires send a long-awaited message to our entire organization that diversity matters.

I couldn’t agree more, and I know, from chairing one of the three search committees and interacting closely with the other two, that these were in no way only “diversity hires.” On a vast number of levels, one part of which is their extraordinary life experience, they all clearly rose to the top as ideal and exemplary leaders for UCSF – great people who will help the University navigate and confront a progressively complex landscape from the perspective of communications, employee engagement, and our relationships with neighbors as well as local, state, and national government.

Welcome to UCSF, Corey, Francesca, and Won!

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Chase the Traffic Blues Away: A strong plan minimizes arena’s impact

With much fanfare and excitement, a highly anticipated multi-functional venue has opened in San Francisco. The Chase Center is the new home of the Golden State Warriors, who have played in five straight NBA Finals (and won three of them), and it will also bring big-name performances to San Francisco.

I totally get it and understand the enthusiasm…but ohhh what about the potential for traffic congestion?! The arena sits across the street from the Mission Bay campus and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. With the Warriors games alone, the expectation is a constant influx of people and cars that could tie up our streets and nearby parking garages.

We knew this was coming for a long time. To minimize inconvenience to our patients, employees, and learners, teams across UCSF have been working diligently with their counterparts at the Warriors and in City Government to prepare for the opening and to manage adverse impacts.

I’m happy to say, so far, so good.

For big arena events during the week, like Warriors’ games, UCSF has worked with city planners to designate certain streets for use by people who are trying to get to UCSF and the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. To help prepare the campus, Campus Life Services has established Event and Traffic Alerts (ETA), a website where you can sign up for alerts that tell you when a major event is scheduled so you can plan accordingly. The website also has additional helpful resources, including information about vanpooling and biking to campus. Clare Shinnerl, senior associate vice chancellor of Campus Life Services, reports that “74 percent of all UCSF employees come to campus in some way other than alone in their car, which is remarkable.” Count Caltrain-riding Clare among them.

While Chase Center will increase activity at Mission Bay, it is not the only one. UCSF and others in the neighborhood have also grown, including the addition of Kaiser. Dropbox and Uber are also moving into major new offices in the area. “Chase is easy to blame, but it’s more than just them,” Clare says.

Undoubtedly, the arena (and the continued expansion of the Mission Bay and Dogpatch neighborhoods) will bring very intense traffic days. Imagine a spring day with the Warriors and Giants both having fantastic seasons and playing right at the onset of rush hour. “So we are asking people and departments to experiment and allow for new ways of commuting and working,” Clare explains. “It’s a great time to think about the best way to get to and out of Mission Bay, and it’s probably not in a car on most days.” Maybe there are ways to mix and match: carpool one day, transit the next, the shuttle another day, and if telecommuting is an option…Zoom from home the next. That leaves Friday – rinse, wash, and repeat!

Now that we have a few events under our belt – even a few concerts overlapping with games at Oracle Park – Clare adds that we have not experienced any patient or ambulance issues, and access to the Mission Bay Hospitals has been going well, which is fabulous news.

It’s definitely a work in progress. The Warriors have their season opener at Chase Center on October 5 at 5 p.m. Like its extremely talented players who run, dribble, and pass…we’re also going to need to be clever and creative in our moving around the grand court of San Francisco.

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Supporting Wellness: Transition from summer days, avoid school daze

The school season is well underway, and I hope those of you with young children have made it through the gauntlet of getting the kids off to school and hopefully back again () with smiles on their (and your) faces. The hecticness of the start of school also happens here, of course, with our professional and graduate students diving into new courses, new learning environments, challenging exams and other types of evaluations, and, for most people, a heightened sense of anxiety as to whether they will succeed given the high standards and expectations. Everyone has heard of the “imposter syndrome” – the feeling that you don’t actually deserve to be where you are and it’s just a matter of time before the school figures out they made a huge error of judgment in accepting you. I suffered from this in spades when I started medical school, and the feeling recurred for a number of cycles as I progressed from one year to the next. Failing a biochemistry test in my first year certainly didn’t help! But with time, the cyclical pattern of insecurity followed by reasonable success eventually enabled me to let go of those fears.

As faculty, we also need to deal with the increased level of activity that comes from immersion into our season of teaching. I get such joy helping to run the second-year med school neuroscience course with my colleagues Andy Josephson, Descartes Li, and Aaron Clark (and numerous other key faculty), but this gets added on to days that are already rather filled to the brim. I hope all of you have gotten over imposter syndrome if you experienced it in the past, but it’s important to be aware of the added stress and anxiety of navigating the seeming craziness of life at work and home.

This is why I repeatedly urge you, dear Expresso reader, to make wellness part of your routine. If you feel the needle tip towards being overwhelmed or off-center more often than not, please read again the August 2016 installment of Expresso that included Help is here: Time-out for faculty and staff.

I also beg you and your support teams to look out for our learners and their wellness. They are working incredibly hard and doing everything they can to succeed, most of them have some degree of imposter syndrome, and we know from many reliable studies that a significant percentage suffer from mental illness, either newly developed or more often the re-emergence of a pre-existing condition. And we should all be aware that this “suffering in silence” can be very difficult to detect; a happy face may belie what is going on deep inside. If you have any concerns about someone, act on your intuition and reach out. And, if your instincts prove to be true, encourage them to seek help from Student Health & Counseling Services – or accompany them there yourself. In addition, the UC Office of the President published this helpful handbook, “Promoting Student Mental Health.”

Remember, each learner has had a path of hard work and life experiences that has led them to UCSF. While their journey here will entail more of the same, their success as the next generation of educators, researchers, and clinicians must not come at the expense of their wellness.

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Dan’s Tip of the Month

 As we tumble headlong toward the end of 2019 and into what will undoubtedly be a tumultuous 2020, may I suggest you listen to the 1619 Project Podcast. The 1619 Project is a major initiative from the New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. Including the podcast as well as essays, images, poems, and short fiction, it “aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.” I am hopeful that this fresh accounting will bring about greater insight, change for the better, and unity across our nation.

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