EVCP Expresso – April 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Spring has arrived – sunshine, flowers, ducklings. The world is starting to feel like a different place with COVID-19 vaccine supply and distribution improving. We can be hopeful that, at the very least, the end of the worst part of the pandemic is in sight. At the same time, I am very concerned about the trends in the wrong direction in too many places around the world (including the U.S.), so please, please, please be vigilant and careful in your interactions with everyone outside of your safe harbor and continue to follow public health orders even if you’re fully vaccinated. And, once again, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated and urge patience if you have not been able to secure a vaccine yet. For current information about vaccine efforts on campus, go to the UCSF COVID-19 Vaccine Information Hub.

We can also see change here at UCSF, as plans for Parnassus Heights move forward – and our dazzlingly rebuilt Clinical Sciences Building reopens. You’ll learn more about that and other important matters in this edition:

Meanwhile, some longstanding critical challenges remain, including racism, gun violence, climate change…

UCSF’s commitment to anti-racism demands that we stand up for all members of our BIPOC community. There has been an alarming increase in assaults against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and we strongly condemn these racially motivated attacks. And as the nation relives the horrific killing of George Floyd, I encourage you to watch Walking Alone…The BLAC Experience brought to us by the UCSF Memory and Aging Center’s Coalition on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC).

On March 24, Chancellor Sam Hawgood wrote about Seven Mass Shootings in Seven Days, and tragically there was another yesterday in Orange, CA. This January, NPR reported, “According to the Gun Violence Archive, a total of at least 19,223 people lost their lives due to gun violence in 2020. That’s an almost 25% jump from the year before.” Every day, guns are involved in homicides, suicides, and fatal accidents. We cannot afford to become desensitized to the lives lost in the wake of gun violence, and we must be the voice for change.

According to NASA, globally, 2020 was the hottest year on record, effectively tying 2016, the previous record. So, be sure to tune into UCSF Population Health & Health Equity Spring 2021 Speaker Series, Session 2: Converging Threats, Cascading Health Risks: Climate Change, Food Security, and Migration on April 15.

And don’t miss the 2021 Last Lecture on April 6 with Peter Chin-Hong, professor and associate dean in the School of Medicine, who will speak on the prompt, “If you had but one lecture to give, what would you say?”

Are you looking forward to returning to campus? What might ease that transition for you? Please send me your ideas at [email protected] – you might see them in a future Expresso!

Here’s to the season of renewal and hope,


Accelerated Advancement: How extra effort can fast-track promotions

The potential of promotion drives a lot of professions. For faculty, it’s a critical and complicated aspect of our careers, often at the forefront of our work lives: moving up the proverbial ladder, from assistant to associate, and finally, to full professor. Within each, there are steps to advance ... with salary increases tied in along the way.

UCSF has a schedule under which faculty are reviewed and promoted. But did you know that some faculty are eligible for accelerated advancement – to advance a rung one or more years early? This acceleration can happen if a person serves on certain impactful and high-workload committees or if they’ve had extraordinary achievements (such as exceptional and unusual productivity reflected in grants or publications, or prestigious national or international awards).

However, inequities arise when some individuals know to request the faster-than-normal advancement (or it happens that their chair or mentor alerts them) and others are unaware that they can request it. That is why Brian Alldredge, vice provost of Faculty and Academic Affairs, and Sandy Feng, a transplant surgeon and the chair of the Committee on Academic Personnel (CAP), are promoting the message that accelerated advancement is possible and worth exploring.

To preserve equity in the process, Brian wants to ensure that everyone knows to inquire about their eligibility. Although UCSF has reviewed the data on who gets accelerations and has found no disparities in race or gender, he notes that often women and underrepresented groups perceive the system impedes their ability to ask for and get accelerations. Many women work in education, where they might not receive as many high-profile grants as others, and women and individuals from underrepresented populations are often called upon to mentor others, which takes time and effort. Both contributions should be included in applications, and all faculty are encouraged to treat their department’s promotions committee as a “mini-CAP” to guide them through the process.

You should know, however, that you must ask for the acceleration in a timely fashion. “One cannot request accelerations retroactively if they ‘forgot’ to request an acceleration at the time they were eligible,” Brian notes. And, there is the possibility of receiving more than one acceleration, for instance, if you serve two- or three-year terms on a high-workload committee.

Several important pillars are considered when CAP reviews acceleration requests: teaching and mentoring; “creative activity,” which is often research-oriented and goes beyond one’s typical job description; service; and professional competence. At CAP’s retreat in February, members discussed including narratives about the impact of COVID-19 on applications, which I wrote about in January’s Expresso.  

When applying, make sure that your CV emphasizes your achievements, explaining those accomplishments that might not be as well known to those outside your field.

The rules for acceleration are laid out in our UCSF Criteria for Advancement of Faculty (the information on accelerations starts on page 5), and both Brian and Sandy work hard to keep the process as transparent as possible – if someone is denied acceleration, they’ll know why.  

So, check with your department and ask if you’re eligible for acceleration. The departments and deans handle the bulk of advancement issues, which are then forwarded to Brian’s office for review and approval. While most accelerations do not require CAP review, if someone seeks a two-year acceleration, or a one-year acceleration two years in a row, the request is sent to CAP. (CAP itself is a great example of an impactful, high-workload committee. It meets almost every week of the year for two and a half hours, so you can see the kind of time commitment that entitles someone to an advanced acceleration.)

Also, remember as you move up, to help someone else along the way.

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The Future of Telework: FAS employees pilot protocols

Last year, as the pandemic raged, UCSF established several task forces, including one examining the future of telework and another looking at our use of administrative space (I wrote about both in last July’s Expresso). Meanwhile, many in our community emptied their workspace and began a prolonged experiment in remote work.

The Future of Telework and Managing Remote Teams Task Force and the Administrative Space Task Force, appointed by former Senior Vice Chancellor Paul Jenny (now CFO at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital), presented their recommendations to the Chancellor’s Executive Team (CET), but the CET felt that because we were still in the middle of the pandemic with a lot of uncertainty, we would not implement any top-down guidance. Last September, we announced that telework would remain in place until June 30, 2021. Now, with people getting vaccinated and that date less than three months away, many people are wondering if they’ll be expected back on campus.

As of this moment, it seems likely we’ll have a phased return to campus, as opposed to everyone returning at once. It also seems likely that telework will be part of life going forward and that our use of administrative space will change, but we’re still working out many of the details. The leadership team is planning on sending a campus-wide message about our plans sometime in early May.

One way to explore the options is through pilot programs, and Financial and Administrative Services (FAS) is taking that bold step. For UCSF, FAS presents the perfect test environment. It has about 2,000 employees in a range of capacities providing operational strength to support the UCSF mission. Service areas include Finance, IT, Human Resources, Real Estate, Campus Life Services, Police Department, Audit and Advisory Services, and the Program Management Office. About half of their staff need to be on site full-time, while others are able to work remotely. With its inherent variety of jobs, FAS can serve as a model for the rest of us, demonstrating how to establish policies equitably, and showing what works and what doesn’t for a wide-ranging staff.

Some of the same folks who led the task forces are members of the FAS Leadership Group overseeing the FAS experiment, including Katharine Tull, chief of staff to Chief Human Resources Officer Corey Jackson. Katharine co-chaired the Future of Telework and Managing Remote Teams Task Force with Shelley Patton, director of Labor and Employee Relations; while Alicia Murasaki, assistant vice chancellor of Campus Planning and campus architect, chaired the Administrative Space Task Force.

Becky Daro, executive director of strategy and administration for FAS, chairs the FAS Telework and Workspace Program. The program has a website providing many details. If you want to take a really deep dive, you can see a slide deck that breaks it all down. The key is that the experiment is running from the bottom up – the pilot is surveying employees, conducting focus groups, and gauging what their interests and needs are.

“Telework is not a policy. It’s actually a strategy that supports both our mission and our people,” Becky says. “It helps people do their best and helps us retain and attract talent. That’s the first and most important thing. We’ve proved to ourselves that we can deliver on our mission while doing telework, and we can help people with better life balance. Secondarily, it ensures that we seize this opportunity to use our resources wisely.” And as Katharine notes, “The telework task force felt strongly about having consistent and equitable criteria driving which jobs are eligible for telework. We’re trying to develop guidance to help managers think about job functions. Deciding who works remotely should be about whether or not a certain job can be done just as well off-site.”

We could also see many changes in our use of space. Expectations have shifted. “People used to assume that if there was a meeting in person, and if you could not be there, you had a second-class experience,” Alicia says. With over twelve months of online meetings, the difference in being together physically versus virtually is not as great as before, and many people see the trade-off being worth it in terms of the amount of time (and cost) traveling between our different campuses.

Also, people used to equate space assignment with ownership. “The old mentality was, ‘It’s mine,’” Alicia says. “Even if you’re not using it now, don’t give it up, or you’ll never get it back.” If some jobs become remote, that could open up space for other uses. Imagine – perhaps some people no longer need a dedicated desk, but instead need the ability to have a workstation at one of our sites one day and another site the next. If that site had rooms for hoteling or conferences or a virtual meeting, and a locker for safe storage, that could be handy. Wouldn’t it be great if your laptop had access to a printer whether you’re at Parnassus Heights or Mission Bay? What if we had a reservation system for open work spaces? It’s all doable. Managers may need new training. Furniture may need redesigns. These are the things our colleagues in FAS are thinking through now.

Experiment and discover – it’s what we do at UCSF, and we have a lot to learn from our FAS colleagues in the coming months!

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The New Clinical Sciences Building: Open and ready for the end of the pandemic

We all love good news, and here’s something great: The Clinical Sciences Building (CSB) is open after a nearly four-year, $151 million renovation, and it’s spectacular!

The CSB was built in 1933 and originally housed dental clinics, labs, offices, and some education spaces. Like many old buildings, it needed a seismic retrofit, and the result was a massive project that gutted the interior while keeping the historic exterior. “From good bones, we’ve created a modern office building within the lovely 1930s Art Deco elements on the exterior,” says Brian Newman, senior associate vice chancellor for Real Estate. “It’s gotten a full retrofit, with all new mechanical, electrical, plumbing and IT infrastructure as well as all new finishes. And of course, it is far safer. We’ve put in sheer walls, a stiffening of the core to give the building the strength it needs, and a seismic buckling restrained braced frames system throughout.”

UCSF worked with San Francisco firms Plant Construction Company, a builder that specializes in historic renovation like the Ferry Building, and EHDD, the architects that designed the Embarcadero Exploratorium, among other projects in the city.

The CSB features 109,000 square feet of mostly office space for our four schools – Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy – as well as some EVCP units. (Special thanks to School of Pharmacy Dean Joe Guglielmo who chaired the committee that worked with the proposed occupants on the furniture selection and some operational processes, and many other overall building issues.)

The lower floor, which is technically a basement with street-level access to Parnassus Avenue, hosts a multipurpose space we’re calling the Pavilion, which can hold 266 people. It can be used for meetings, classes, or even sit-down dining (holding fewer people). Floors two through seven have private offices on the interior surrounded by open floor workstations to take advantage of the windows. Because the building is long and narrow, natural light floods every floor. Each of the upper floors has a “town center” common area, including kitchen space, where people can congregate (once it’s safe). Something that has not changed one bit is the amazing view from the upper floors of the Pacific Ocean, Marin Headlands, Golden Gate Park, and Golden Gate Bridge.

The new CSB solves another longstanding problem on Parnassus – the wall of buildings that cut off access to other areas. “There was no easy way to get to Saunders Court,” Brian says. A new public pathway – the Holly Smith Gateway, appropriately named for our legendary longtime chair of the Department of Medicine – settles that issue by granting folks entering the CSB from Parnassus Avenue direct access up to Saunders Court.

Although this project started before the Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan was conceived, it marks a key first step in making that vision a reality. To date, teams have moved into the building, with only a few occupants working in person. Most of the people who are moving into the new CSB are coming from UC Hall, where they worked temporarily during the renovation.

I’m looking forward to a walk-through and taking in the new ambience. While the amazing view hasn’t changed, I know that I’ll have a whole new outlook.

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Dan’s Tip of the Month

close up photo of a farm worker's hand holding a bunch of parsleyEvery year at the end of March, we honor César Chávez for his leadership, advocacy, and civil rights activism. His life’s work, La Causa, is dedicated to the struggle of farm workers in the U.S., so when I came across “What everyone gets WRONG about farm work” with Yara Elmjouie on YouTube, I knew it needed to be shared. What resonated with me is the cavalier use of labels to identify groups of people about whom many of us actually know very little, or worse nothing, and how this labeling and ignorant (and privileged) use of language demeans and negates a diverse cosmos of experience, skill, and worth. Please watch. And the next time you shop for produce and reach for that package of romaine lettuce or a fresh bunch of bright green parsley, reflect on the people who made it possible.

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