As we mark another Labor Day and the start of school, I hope you’re enjoying the waning summer days and are ready for the upcoming, eventful academic year.
Over the past few weeks, the one-year anniversary of the crisis in Afghanistan has passed as well as the six-month mark of the war in Ukraine. The struggles, suffering, and strife are seemingly insurmountable, but we must not lose hope, and below is a way you can help.
I’m glad to say that UCSF has made progress over the summer months on two fronts with not one but two inaugural roles to face challenges in the IT and research space as well as racial harassment and discrimination: an associate chief information officer for research and a CARE advocate for racial justice.
This month you’ll read about these roles and the visionaries taking the helm:
Last month I heard from Jess Ghannam, who wrote about the strides that the UCSF chapter of Scholars At Risk (SAR) has made over the summer to help scholars in Ukraine. SAR recently invited these scholars to apply for unique opportunities that allow for a continuation of their training until a safe return to Ukraine is possible including a one-year fellowship based at UCSF’s Institute for Global Health Sciences and Health and Human Rights Initiative to gain additional skills, contribute to advancing global health and human rights, and assist communities in need. Visit the SAR web page to learn more and donate!
Please, share your summer adventures with me at [email protected].
With best wishes,
Commitment to CARE: Meet UCSF’s new advocate for racial justice
Every campus in the University of California system has a CARE department – Campus Advocacy Resources and Education. CARE, which I wrote about in 2017, started as a recommendation from a UC task force on sexual violence and harassment.
With CARE, the campus can give staff, students, trainees, and faculty someone purely on their side, an advocate and supporter who will listen to their concerns. UCSF brought on board Denise Caramagno as our first CARE advocate in 2015, and she’s been ably managing the program and supporting our community ever since.
The job has grown over the years, to the point at which, Denise says, “the most common complaint to our Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, led by Nyoki Sacramento, is for racial discrimination and harassment.”
A new role, CARE Advocate for Racial Justice, was developed as a result. It also stemmed from the UCSF Anti-racism Initiative, which was established in August 2020, and last month Chancellor Sam Hawgood and Vice Chancellor Renee Navarro announced that Kendra Hypolite would be UCSF’s inaugural CARE Advocate for Racial Justice. UCSF CARE is the first in the UC system to expand the program in this direction. Since its inception, the program has supported individuals who experience harms that fall under the Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy, and now we also are able to support those who experience harms under the Nondiscrimination Policies.
Denise and Kendra now co-lead CARE. “If you look at the statistics, people with marginalized identities are disproportionately harmed by sexual violence and sexual harassment,” Denise says. “It’s all connected. We’ve done the organic thing, bringing Kendra in to lead us to support people based on harms related to identity.”
Indeed, results from the Climate Survey found that 42 percent of Black/African Americans at UCSF say they have been discriminated against based on their race or ethnicity, as reported in this story.
Passion for Equity and Justice
A social worker specializing in health equity and reproductive justice, Kendra advocates for the needs of historically excluded and marginalized groups. This is where her passion lies. She brings a trauma-informed lens and racial justice framework to every role that she’s had. Kendra has worked in clinical practice and as a program manager in the nonprofit, health care, and higher education spaces. She has been the first person to hold each of her jobs for the past six years and is accustomed to being a maverick. Kendra says, “The two words most important to understand this role are support and advocacy.”
So often, people who face discrimination feel alone. “Whenever you are a member of a marginalized community in a large institution, it’s overwhelming,” Kendra says. “It can be incredibly isolating, trying to navigate the system. Part of what I hope to accomplish in this role is to demystify the existing resources and demystify the reporting process.”
Denise reports that “many people who contact the CARE advocate don’t wind up filing complaints, and that’s fine.” Kendra adds, “It’s not our job to tell people what they need to do or what the next steps are. It’s our job to listen and support the person, offering guidance about the process. Sometimes people just want somebody to listen to them, to validate their experiences.”
Kendra says people may feel particularly alone if they’re the only person with a marginalized identity in a room. As a Black woman, Kendra has been in that situation countless times, and she can be particularly empathetic, allowing people to feel more comfortable sharing their experiences with her.
“Marginalized folks have been experiencing harm in institutions like UCSF since the beginning of time,” Kendra says. “Up until very recently, however, people were suffering in silence, because they never felt like people wanted to hear the truth, and they never felt like they had anybody to talk to about it.”
For too long people have been sensing the sting of racist comments and feeling like they had to take it, and that’s completely wrong and wholly unacceptable. Kendra hopes that folks across UCSF feel like that’s less true than before and that they do not have to suffer in silence or ignore the impact that experiencing racism has on their well-being.
Should anyone come to you because they have been harmed by sexual violence, sexual harassment, or racism, I implore you to connect them with our CARE advocates and learn more by reading about “Options for Reporting.”
Do it because you care.
Bridging Gaps: IT + Research
Even before the 2020 data breach, central Information Technology (IT) has been striving to serve the entire university enterprise with programs and tools that meet the needs of our mission while addressing the cybersecurity requirements mandated by the UC policy BFB-IS-3: Electronic Information Security (IS-3). Unfortunately, these requirements bring complexity such as security patches, upgrades, and security software that can make it more difficult to get research work done. The 2020 breach demonstrated that despite IT efforts to minimize risk, a few departments have systems that are not tied into central IT and therefore lack its protective safeguards.
“Researchers virtually always face limits in resources and funding. They want to execute as soon as possible. If they have a lot of hoops to jump through related to security, timing, support (to name a few), it’s natural for them to look for a work-around that will relieve the burden,” says Mandy Terrill, UCSF’s inaugural associate chief information officer for Research (ACIOR).
Mandy hails from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) with over ten years of related experience. Mandy was a member of the external review panel when central IT conducted its in-depth analysis of the IT Operations Model (ITOM), two years ago. The review was completed earlier this year. Now Mandy is on the other side of the table – our side!
The ACIOR position is the result of recommendations coming out of the ITOM review. This role focuses on advancing the research mission at UCSF using data, analytics, information technology, and design. The ACIOR is a dual report to the chief information officer, Joe Bengfort, and our new vice chancellor for Research, Hal Collard. This role also leads the delivery of IT services to the research community and builds those services to meet the growing and evolving needs of that community.
From Mandy’s perspective, “It’s important to have a research voice embedded in central IT that can say – this may very well protect our hospital data, but it’s not going to work for research. It actually might add to their burden.”
Mandy appreciates the candid feedback from over 50 researchers she’s met with since June, and she’s on track for meeting 40 more. While there are common pain points for research institutions, such as not knowing where to go to access service, having multiple and too many teams, and not having the services needed, we have unique challenges. Mandy sees it this way: “We do really incredible research, demonstrating amazing collaboration and innovation. I see my role in determining how central IT can support that high level of collaboration and not hinder it, while building systems that protect the data that the institution owns, in a way that doesn’t put the institution in a place of liability if an incident occurs. We need to develop data sharing agreements, an ability to share data out, and share de-identified data properly, in addition to building better services for our research community.”
Mandy also quickly recognizes the hard work that central IT has to do in regard to ITOM and IS-3. “It’s been a huge challenge, requiring rapid responses. Directives have been handed down to central IT, and they’ve had to solve them the best way possible – without having the time to recognize many of the unique requirements of research.”
This is not all on IT to solve. All of us engaged in research need to help IT figure out a way to operationalize security mandates while avoiding an extra burden on research and ensuring that research is secure. In turn, IT needs to support us as they strive to operate within that secure environment – it’s delicate, difficult work.
Where does Mandy see things working well? There are many services in place today that have resulted from collaborative efforts from Research Compliance, CTSI, and School of Medicine Tech, some of which include: Wynton, Research Analysis Environment (“RAE”), Information Commons, and REDCap. A study led by Coleen Kivlahan, “Asylum seeker trauma in a student-run clinic: reducing barriers to forensic medical evaluations,” is an example of how these systems can contribute to success. REDCap manages documents that can be used in court to help protect one of the most vulnerable populations.
Mandy’s road map for IT priorities and research needs has two categories:
- Research applications – Mandy is creating an inventory while looking at level of risk and need for support. Here’s an example: IRB’s iRIS is not integrated into the clinical trial management system (CTMS). From a compliance and user standpoint – there’s no way to know if the IRB protocol has expired within the CTMS. We rely on people to manually check and update the systems. There are many issues involved with not having these two systems talking to each other. One of her top priorities is to ensure that the right requirements and integration, from both the research and technology sides, are built into RFPs and considered for current and future systems.
- Research services and support – Often research projects are unique and complicated when it comes to technical needs and support. Mandy likens part of her role to a concierge, knowing the options and providing guidance to identify institutional partners, e.g., CTSI, SOM Tech, Central IT, RAE, and Wynton, and to set up these resources.
Other work that’s being done to bridge IT and research includes exploring whether UCSF would be well served to have a chief research information officer (CRIO), an emerging role in academic medical centers, driving strategy for research IT infrastructure and services. Such a role would be held by a faculty member and provide important partnership and oversight to the ACIOR. In January, I appointed a task force, led by Chair of the IT Governance Committee on Research Technology John Mongan, to formally consider the possibility and provide recommendations.
More to come on the CRIO front – in the meantime, reach out Mandy. You owe it to your research!
Dan’s Tip of the Month
If you’ve ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed, you know how it feels. It can happen on the sunniest morning, but a dark cloud follows everywhere you go – at least that’s how it seems.
It may feel forced at first, but try smiling. Findings show that there are both physiological and psychological benefits from maintaining positive facial expressions during stress. It’s a discipline that takes daily practice.
Now, if you’re experiencing prolonged sadness or burnout, I urge you to take stronger action and reach out to the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, Ombuds, or for learners, Student Health and Counseling Services.
While we’re ramping up for the new academic year, anticipation can lead to anxiety in the work setting. Though we all try to present our best selves, we have no idea what’s going on for others. How about bringing a smile to a colleague’s day by letting them know, “I see you. I value your contributions. Thank you.”
At UCSF we have an excellent tool to help – Recognize. Meaningful and regular recognition helps us feel valued and can also improve productivity and inspire collaboration – boosting wellbeing. To amplify the good vibes, managers receive a copy, too!