Life continues to rush on at warp speed. Can you believe we’re approaching the end of 2022? And amid so much global strife and uncertainty today, I have many reasons to be thankful. One is how busy we are at UCSF doing what we do best – confronting challenges and making the world a better place.
This month’s Expresso topics cover three areas in which we’re making strides:
- Prepping on Parnassus: Work begins on new hospital project
- Bridging Gaps, Part 2: IT + Education
- Creating Community: Career development through the lens of diversity
Who hasn’t experienced being overwhelmed, distraught, especially during the holiday season? And let’s not forget, we’re still in a pandemic and are faced with a tri-demic winter – flu, COVID-19, and RSV. First, if you need help, avail yourself of the resources at UCSF. Second, allow yourself moments of joy – choose your own adventure. Whether it’s planning that once-abandoned vacation, taking up a new hobby, volunteering, making a new social connection, learning to meditate, or simply enjoying the sunset – just do it. Carve time out for yourself. The work will still be there when you return.
Well, folks, the time is drawing near for me to start a new adventure. This is the penultimate installment of Expresso from me, and I am very thankful for this platform from which I’ve been able to share news about our university, and most of all, for your readership and feedback over the past seven years.
I’ll close with this quote from the Dalai Lama: “The seed of goodness is found in the soil of appreciation.” If you feel inclined, let me know what you’re thankful for, and drop me a line at [email protected].
Prepping on Parnassus: Work begins on new hospital project
If you’ve walked past the east side of Parnassus campus lately – specifically Medical Center Way where subtle signage informs visitors they are about to step onto UCSF territory – you might say, “Hmmm, something looks different.” It’s not your imagination.
The new hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center at Parnassus Heights (NHPH, the project’s temporary acronym) is scheduled to open in 2030. While it sounds like a long way off, considering how much work there is to be done in approximately eight years it really isn’t, and it’s great to see the visible progress of this significant undertaking.
The project is now in an early construction phase called “site make ready,” which is just as it sounds. Indeed, the corner of Parnassus Avenue and Medical Center Way shows the nascent steps of making the NHPH a reality. To provide context, the beautiful building will rise on the site that’s been occupied by the Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics (LPPHC) since 1942.
The LPPHC outpatient program has been relocated to the UCSF Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry Building at Mission Bay, which opened at the end of June 2022. The new space for the inpatient and intensive outpatient programs is slated for Mount Zion but that will take until May 2023, so in the meantime both programs remain in LPPHC at Parnassus.
With an impressive array of equipment, exploratory work began at the new hospital site a couple of months ago. Fred Whitney, the director of Project Delivery for the NHPH, explains that they’re verifying locations of existing underground utilities and working on the installation of new utility, sanitary, and storm sewer projects.
Part of that work includes large drill rigs and cranes, which have taken up residence in the LPPHC courtyard. Crews are drilling test piles now – deep holes to test assumptions about the nature of the soil and how the piles will hold up under hydraulic stress and weight. The piles range from 50 to 120 feet deep, and from two to four feet in diameter. Ultimately hundreds of them will go in the ground, giving the hospital a foundation that is designed to withstand those unpredictable geologic events that are a part of life in the Bay Area (😬).
Conditions underground at the relatively small 1.5-acre site vary dramatically. At the south side of the site, foundation piles are shorter and start immediately in bedrock. At the north side of the site, near Parnassus, the bedrock slopes away so steeply that there can be over 100 feet of sand before a foundation pile reaches bedrock.
The project team is trying to mitigate noise resulting from the drilling operation as much as possible.
The team is adhering to all mitigation measures from the approved NHPH Environmental Impact Report (EIR) by measuring noise and vibration as well as implementing noise-reducing techniques to lessen the disruption. One thing we’re already doing: All machinery and equipment have been fitted with mufflers and noise abatement devices. Another is having an on-site project team member in the LPPHC building full-time to address any construction-related problems.
Fred adds that we’ve also started “soft demolition” inside those parts of Langley Porter that have been vacated. This involves removing furniture, ceilings, flooring, separating material, pulling out wires and other items that can be recycled, and mitigating any asbestos that might be present in concealed materials such as old above-ceiling pipe insulation. That’ll happen in the rest of the building when it’s fully vacant, and the full demolition is planned for late next year.
We know the project has challenges in many other ways, including maintaining access to the Emergency Department and Medical Center Way. Both will remain open; continuous communications will be distributed by the project team in advance and signage will be installed to alert people to any changes as the project advances to minimize disruptions.
To make way for construction, surrounding trees planted by UCSF were removed over the summer. During the next few months, we’ll be removing the city’s trees that are adjacent to the site. But rest assured, we’ll be planting two new trees for every one that we remove. Trees are hugely important, and we have a larger initiative to green Parnassus, which is based on two guiding principles, i.e., creating a “healing habitat” and furthering the concept of “park to peak.”
That’s it in a nutshell. The building construction will be finished in 2029, and then it will take until 2030 to equip it and go through the rigorous start-up and commissioning processes needed to open a new hospital. The best part is knowing that, ultimately, we’ll be able to provide a beautiful environment for the many patients we will serve.
It may seem like a long way off, but, step by step, it’s getting closer and closer!
Bridging Gaps, Part 2: IT + Education
In 2020, UCSF fell victim to a cyberattack resulting in a data breach that exposed significant gaps within our research and education enterprises. To address them, and on the recommendation of IT Governance, UCSF Chief Information Officer Joe Bengfort created two associate chief information officer (ACIO) positions: one for research, which I wrote about in September introducing you to Mandy Terrill, and another for education.
The ACIO for Education (ACIOE) will be accountable to the UCSF Education Dean’s Council as a key voice in articulating the priorities and outcomes needed for the UCSF education community. The ACIOE will also be deeply engaged in the IT governance committees supporting education at UCSF and the UC System.
Maggie Beers took the role of ACIOE in June, and it feels like a homecoming to the UC system; she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UC Santa Barbara before earning her doctorate at the University of British Columbia. Since arriving at UCSF, Maggie has met with more than 60 people toward making an assessment, i.e., identifying areas in need of improvement, determining what resources are needed, and proposing a budget for a five-year plan.
In 2013, when Joe became UCSF’s chief information officer for both campus and the medical center, one major goal was to build a united IT team. Maggie explains that, within her listening sessions, “One of the findings was a discovery that the research side and especially the education side have not been provided the central vision, oversight, or advocacy needed to put in place those structures, systems, and technologies that are required to support our mission in UCSF’s health professions education.”
In a talk she gave at a symposium at UCSF in August, she spoke to how the educational technology ecosystem needs to not only support diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also enable what she called the “guiding strengths of 21st century educators.” Maggie says, “These include actions that promote inclusion and belonging, with deep advocacy for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through anti-racist, liberatory pedagogies; a growth mindset that engages in lifelong learning about teaching that connects the mind, body, and spirit; and evidence-based practice that demonstrates a commitment to learner success through reflective, data-informed practices grounded in the scholarship of teaching and learning.”
Maggie hails from San Francisco State University where she worked for 15 years as the executive director for academic technology and assistant vice president for teaching and learning, pulling together various digital initiatives that had happened in an ad-hoc way when tech was in its formative years. With a deep understanding of how technology can enhance what happens in the classroom, she explains, “Education has changed so much in the last 20 years, if not the last four years. Teaching and learning are not singular things anymore. You cannot just be a singular instructor teaching a course or a lab. It’s a team endeavor to facilitate learning, to build a curriculum and to make sure the students are engaging and learning what they need to learn to be health practitioners.” In 28 years of teaching, Maggie has always been fascinated with the power of technology – the way “innovative teaching methods can help bring people together,” as well as the way it can completely douse the mood in the classroom.
Considering the life cycle of a learner within professional health education, Maggie sees it definitely heading into the realms of experiential education and, hastened by the pandemic, remote learning.
Maggie has often heard people talk about the small population of students at UCSF, and she finds the minimizing of the number puzzling. “We have 3,500 students here. That’s the size of a small liberal arts school. That’s a lot of humans!” she says. “They go deep into every aspect of UCSF. They are out there publishing research alongside faculty, they’re out in the clinics, they go on to become fellows and residents. I wonder how we can shift that diminishing of the number of students. Why do we often forget them because there’s so few? It’s why we need to pay more attention. That’s inclusion.”
As someone who loves our educational mission and our students, who derives great joy from being in the classroom in the presence of the brilliant next generation of health sciences professionals and researchers, I am happy to hear Maggie say that out loud. It’s a breath of fresh air and a reminder we all could use.
Creating Community: Career development through the lens of diversity
Being part of a large institution can be daunting if you don’t see yourself reflected back. It takes confidence and courage to decide to take on a situation like this, and it can be lonely and make someone feel vulnerable and unsupported. One of the most important things we can do is give our faculty members, especially from historically underrepresented populations, a sense of what the academic life at UCSF is all about as they enter this complex and evolving macrocosm with a language and rituals all its own. That’s why events like Faculty Development Day are important – because they are an effective vehicle for community building.
This one-day event put on by the Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs offers workshops for professional development and resources to enhance faculty life at UCSF. This event is relevant to faculty at all career stages and all faculty are encouraged to participate.
For the third straight year, Faculty Development Day was held 100% online with a very full agenda. While that does mean a lost opportunity for in-person connections, it also enabled many more people than usual to attend the event – 170 this year, which is pretty good engagement, as UCSF typically welcomes approximately 200 new faculty each year.
This year’s event included a new offering that proved highly effective: a panel of early and mid-career faculty speaking on “Career Development at UCSF Through a Diversity Lens.”
This insightful idea came from Marianne Juarez, associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, who works tirelessly on many initiatives on behalf of women and underrepresented minorities. She also is a member of the Faculty Development Day Subcommittee, which was chaired by Hannah Glass, professor in the Department of Neurology, who was fully supportive of Marianne’s proposal to feature the powerful work our junior faculty have done in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Marianne wanted to bring participants “something positive, uplifting, inspirational and also useful” – and she delivered.
Marianne assembled an all-star lineup of faculty, with each of our schools represented: Akin Oni-Orisan, assistant professor in the School of Pharmacy; Jean Calvo, assistant professor in the School of Dentistry; Jerry Nutor, assistant professor in the School of Nursing; Willieford Moses, assistant professor in the School of Medicine; and Starr Knight, associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and ZSFG director of faculty experience.
“They all had such rich stories to tell,” says Irené Merry, the coordinator for the Campus Council on Faculty Life. It’s best if you watch the video (sign-on to MyAccess is required) and listen to their individual journeys in their own voices. Their work in DEI “has enhanced their careers at UCSF,” says Brian Alldredge, vice provost – Academic Affairs. “They spoke about how they’re supported and how they’re recognized and rewarded through the academic review process and their contributions to the University and how it’s helped foster their career development by this particular work.”
Each of the panelists shared stories from their career. Starr, for instance, told how UCSF has supported her work in DEI, appointing her the inaugural director of Faculty Experience for UCSF at ZSFG, and naming her a John A. Watson Faculty Scholar, among many other honors. That’s led to many local and national speaking opportunities, which helped raise her profile and contributed to her promotion from assistant to associate professor.
“Stay curious and open with opportunities,” Starr told the new faculty members. “Know that you can mold each opportunity to fit your needs and interests. You do not need to be married to an opportunity when it no longer meets your needs.”
She also urged them to continue to mentor and sponsor others along the way “to ensure that there is a pathway created for others as you progress.”
Marianne says, “My career trajectory and my path has really been surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, specifically gender equity in education. It was wonderful to share this. This is a huge deal. This is all of UCSF.”
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the reality that there are many challenges to retaining underrepresented minority faculty. Kristine Yaffe, professor and vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry, co-authored a mentoring guide, and summarizes the issues that threaten retention: “bias and discrimination, personal wealth differential, the minority tax (i.e., service burdens placed on URM faculty who represent URM perspectives on committees and at conferences), lack of mentorship training, intersectionality and isolation, concerns about confirming stereotypes, and institutional-level factors.” One program that endeavors to overcome these challenges is ARCHES (Advancing the Research Careers of Historically Excluded Scholars), a career development program for historically excluded research faculty that was built recognizing that diversity is critical to institutional success and scientific progress, and that representative role models positively impact junior faculty and trainees.
To Marianne, all of the panelists, and everyone who dedicates their lives to making our university an inclusive, welcoming place for all, you have my gratitude. There is much left to do, but thank you for helping to make UCSF a place where everybody feels supported and cared for, and therefore able to reach their full potential.
Dan’s Tip of the Month
The crunch of leaves underfoot, the fragrant aroma of fall, and our thoughts turn to winter. A season when we spend a little more time indoors and bring out the turtlenecks and warm sweaters. If you’re like me, you start thinking about the music that comes round this time of year.
I’ve previously highlighted John McCutcheon’s Winter Solstice, which includes “Christmas in the Trenches,” describing an unofficial truce on the battlefront during WWI. On Sunday, December 11, this beloved folk album will be featured in a livestreamed performance, Winter Solstice: a Holiday Concert with John McCutcheon. The livestream ticket costs $20 and allows unlimited on-demand replay for 48 hours after the broadcast.
The concert promises to be packed with music from Winter Solstice, along with some brand-new songs and a guest or two. There’s also going to be a carol singalong! Not sure? Give a listen to the album, and you’ll be transported to a different time and place.