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Spring 2020 - Issue 6
Diagnosing the latest Developments in Shared Governance
- Chair Majumdar’s Remarks
- Academic Senate Partnership with Human Resources in the Time of COVID-19
- Academic Senate Co-Sponsorship of Office of Research COVID-19 Town Halls
- Chancellor’s Fund Update
We are all navigating new ground as we address the disorder and stress created by the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Given the nature of UCSF’s in-person clinical instruction, educators are facing new and unexpected challenges, as are our researchers in basic, clinical, and translational science. The Academic Senate is committed to working with key members of UCSF’s Administration, especially Vice Chancellor of Research Lindsey Criswell and Vice Chancellor for Student Academic Affairs and Graduate Dean Elizabeth Watkins (along with the Education Deans), to create working solutions and practices to ensure educational and research continuity. In order to mitigate confusion and unnecessary chaos, I ask that we be as calm, creative, and flexible as possible in fulfilling our responsibilities as faculty to students, who may be in various states of confusion and vulnerability. For general guidelines, I encourage you to visit both the Senate’s COVID-19 microsite and UCSF’s COVID-19 resource site, which includes information on frequently asked questions, policies and guidance for travel, visitors, and events, and links to important resources.
I am especially proud of our collaboration with the Office of Research to sponsor a series of research town halls, which are designed to assist researchers in adjusting to the new normal in this era of COVID-19. All recordings are available online, along with responses to submitted questions. The last COVID-19 Outbreak Research Town Hall on April 8 featured opening remarks by Vice Chancellor Criswell, along with moderation by Lea Grinberg, MD, PhD, Chair of the Senate’s Committee on Research, Harold Collard, MD, Associate Vice Chancellor of Clinical Research, and Vanessa Jacoby, MD, MAS, School of Medicine, Director of Participant Recruitment, CTSI. You can view the view the recording here. At this point, I would like to thank our Senate staff analysts, Ken Laslavic, Amber Cobbett, and Joey Cheng for supporting these efforts.
In response to the expanding campus efforts in COVID-19 related research, the Senate is directing a significant portion of its Chancellor’s Funds to sponsor the UCSF COVID-19 Rapid Response Pilot (C19 RRP) Grant Program, together with the Office of Research’s Research Development Office (RDO) and Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Pilot Program. In doing so, the Senate seeks to support rapid response research at UCSF focused on SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The C19 RRP Grant Program seeks proposals for grants in two award tiers, $5K (ten proposals for up to one year) and $40K (three to four proposals for up to one year). There is considerable campus and Senate effort to determine ways of mitigating the financial impact on federal and other grant funding. The teams are working together to assess whether there will be recovery funds available, and how best to position ourselves for supplements. In the same vein, despite the uncertainty of a start date, the ramping back up of research is also a major focus of the teams, to ensure that there is balance, compliance, and the least impact to productivity.
The Senate has also been active in ensuring educational and curricular continuity during this time. The Committee on Educational Policy’s Mary Lynch has been serving on the Education Programs Branch of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Working Group, which is chaired by Vice Chancellor Watkins. Meeting twice a week, and with advice from School Educational Deans, who are also on this committee, this group has been very proactive in ensuring educational continuity at UCSF. The UCSF Library has also published Tools for Teaching and Learning Continuity. Across the UC, the systemwide Senate has also been very active on this front with the following statement and memos (mostly relating to undergraduate students):
- Statement on Course Materials Developed for Remote Teaching during the COVID-19 Emergency (4/20)
- Temporary Modification of Existing Admission Requirements Due to COVID-19 (3/20)
- Divisional Flexibility for Grading Options During 2020 (3/20)
In response to the significant financial impact on campus and UCSF Health, we at the Senate, and especially the Committee on Academic Planning and Budget, which is chaired by Paul Volberding, remain engaged with Paul Jenny, Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, so we stay abreast of any upcoming changes that will affect faculty. At the system-wide level, the most salient information relates to the fact that the Regents discussion on Comprehensive Access has now been deferred to the summer.
Alas, unlike David Teitel, I have no “Pies” to recommend, but in this time of great stress and uncertainty, I suggest MUSIC. Andrea Bocelli Essentials on iTunes is magnificent, as is taking your Zoom calls while walking round and round your block – in the sunshine. As always, your issues and questions are welcome, you know where to find me.
As the UCSF academic community works through the COVID-19 crisis, Human Resources (HR) is especially important. Before the current crisis, in December 2019, the Academic Senate welcomed Corey Jackson, UCSF’s Chief HR Officer, to its Division meeting, where he presented his vision for a reimagined UCSF HR, including short- and long-term goals and objectives. Jackson’s extensive professional background encompasses law, government, sports, diversity and inclusion, teaching, health care policy, and ethics.
Focus & Priorities
Jackson’s focus during his first few months (September-December 2019) at UCSF encompassed learning, listening, and data collection. His multi-faceted approach includes understanding the UC and HR System, reviewing HR structure, data, metrics, and understanding challenges. His most important concern is to ensure that the right people are in the right roles, all the while streamlining HR systems and processes. His priority has been to engage with as many people as possible, and outside of HR.
While Jackson has been focused on COVID-19 more recently, at the December meeting he articulated that some of his priorities, which included determining and communicating HR priorities, consolidating HR IT systems. He also emphasized the need to shore up the basic foundational aspects of HR. Other priorities include the implementation of various projects such as customer service training for HR staff, UC Regents’ Outsourcing Policy and UCPath (see below). The UC Regents have also recently charged HR with beginning re-insource those positions that were previously outsourced, at UCSF and the entire UC system.
Additional HR priorities included Aon/Kincentric recommendations; succession planning; ensuring that inclusion, diversity, equity and belonging are infused into HR systems, processes and policies; career pathing; leadership development and continuing education; and improved onboarding experience.
Above all else, Jackson’s December Senate presentation showed a directness and desire to be transparent regarding UCSF’s current HR situation and the pathway forward. It was well received by faculty, and prompted a number of comments and questions. In turn, Jackson requested faculty groups he could connect with about such items, with the Committee on Academic Planning and Budget and the Committee on Faculty Welfare being named as two key Senate committees. His approach is to be clear and forthcoming about what is happening at UC in order to move HR from its status quo, towards a strategic business partner. At the Senate’s Division meeting, he encouraged faculty to reach out to him and other HR staff with their concerns.
Initiated in 2010 at the UC systemwide level, UCPath will replace our antiquated payroll and personnel system with modern technology that can accommodate future growth and changes to our organization. This is the largest implementation UC has ever done, with 63,000 employees impacted between UCSF and UCSD. Given the importance of UCPath, and in consultation with the Office of the President, UCSF leadership recently determined that the implementation of UCPath is essential and will be proceeding with the June 1, 2020 launch. That said, UCPath implementation and training plans have been modified to meet the requirements of the new reality associated with COVID-19, in order to minimize impacts to UCSF’s care providers. The Senate wishes to remind faculty and staff of the following deadlines associated with UCPath:
- For most employees, a few preparatory actions are recommended, but none are required unless you need to make changes in At Your Service Online (AYSO). Changes to personal information, direct deposit, and withholding must be made in AYSO by April 23.
- Managers and supervisors should review the cutover schedule for changes to human resources and payroll deadlines through June 1.
- Some campus employees will be entering or approving actions directly in UCPath. These campus employees (not applicable to UCSF Health employees) will be notified about their training requirements and should begin their online training.
At the systemwide level, UC President Janet Napolitano has addressed some immediate concerns associated with COVID-19. These are 1) a March 9 executive order authorizing up to 14 days (128 hours) of paid administrative leave for employees unable to work for COVID-19 related reasons; and 2) that there will be no COVID-19 related layoffs for all UC career employees through the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2020.
Locally, on April 7 Chancellor Sam Hawgood announced a UCSF hiring freeze, on all open and new staff and academic positions, which is effective from April 7, 2020 through June 30, 2021, Especially in research, there will be exceptions. At the Senate’s/Office of Research co-sponsored April 8 Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic Town Hall (listen to the recording here) and in an email to the UCSF community, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dan Lowenstein articulated that he anticipates that individuals, such as postdocs and others, who qualify as essential personnel on projects and who are entirely supported by sponsored project funding will, in many cases, be considered exceptions. Pursuant to the hiring freeze, the Senate will be following up on such issues as using endowment funds for faculty hiring, exceptions to the hiring freeze for startup funds for junior faculty, and renewal of appointments for research assistants.
At the COVID-19 Research Town Hall, HR representatives were especially helpful in either answering faculty questions, as well as noting issues that needed follow-up:
- Reduced productivity during the COVID-19 crisis.
- A: EVCP Lowenstein, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Brian Alldredge, and CAP Chair Lundy Campbell have issued Additional Guidance for Academic Review, which serves to reassure faculty that they understand that the pandemic is likely to have effects on faculty members’ academic performance and productivity during this year, and recommend that, for future review actons, faculty are encouraged to make note on their CVs of conferences, talks at other universities, and other relevant opportunities to which they were invited, but unable to attend due to COVID-19. Departments and schools should also provide the context for any periods of reduced activity Assistant professors in the ‘Senate’ series (Clinical X, In-Residence, & Ladder-Rank) may also request an extension of the eight-year limit to promotion to the Associate Rank, pursuant to APM 133-17 (e.g., “signiﬁcant circumstance or event beyond the individual’s control”).
- How is the 128 hours of administrative leave financed, through grant funds or state funds?
- What should a PI or lab manager do their research staff is not comfortable coming into the lab?
- A: Faculty have been strictly cautioned to excuse anyone who does not feel comfortable coming into the laboratory. Students should be assured that if they feel any pressure to carry out experiments, they are welcome to voice their concerns with graduate program directors, thesis committees, or the supportive staff of the Graduate Division
- Redeployment: How can staff, trainees, and researchers get involved with COVID-related research and/or be redeployed to assist in the COVID-19 effort? Will redeployment affect health benefits in any way? Can a clinical researcher utilize redeployment instead of using the 128 hours of administrative leave?
- A: For redeployment, see the redeployment website (https://coronavirus.ucsf.edu/employees#redeployment). Redeployment will not affect health benefits in any way. Yes, redeployment can be used in lieu of administrative leave, and is available to academic employees as well.
- Are sponsored projects allowed to resume paying salary support and benefits for staff that would normally be covered per UCSF and NIH policy, correct?
- A: Yes, sponsored projects are allowed to resume paying salary support and benefits.
The Senate is also tracking a number of issues that need follow-up by either HR or senior leadership:
- Potential UCSF emergency salary support for researchers;
- International post-doc visa renewals; and
- Continued free parking for researchers during the COVID-19
In December, Chief HR Officer Jackson closed his remarks at the Division meeting with this statement: “We are trying to rebuild a plane while flying it, and everyone has a piece.” This seems even more germane now as UCSF’s academic community works through the COVID-19 crisis together.
In the spirit of shared governance, the Academic Senate’s Committee on Research (COR) is proud to co-sponsor with the Office of Research a regularly occurring Research Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic Town Hall series. Given the fact that most UCSF laboratories have closed and clinical research activities have been postponed unless directly related to COVID-19 or approved as "essential," the Senate has been fostering collaboration and communication by sponsoring this popular town hall series.
To date, the Senate has co-sponsored two town halls – one on March 25 and another on April 8, with another being planned for Wednesday, May 6, at 4pm. Co-Chaired by COR Chair Lea Grinberg, MD, PhD and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Winona Ward, CRA the town halls have featured such speakers and campus leaders as EVCP Dan Lowenstein, MD; Hal Collard, MD (Associate Vice Chancellor of Clinical Research); David Morgan, PhD (Vice Dean for Research, School of Medicine); Payam Nahid, MD, MPH (Associate Director of Clinical Trials Operations); Vanessa Jacoby, MD, MAS (School of Medicine, Director of Participant Recruitment, CTSI); Katy Rau (Director of Shared Services, Human Resources – Staff Redeployment); and Shelley Patton (Director, Labor & Employee Relations).
The primary purpose of the March 25 Research Operations During the COVID-19 Outbreak Town Hall facilitated communication and updates on strategies for managing the financial impacts to research labs and PIs (including regulatory requirements due to delays in research visits), as well as local governmental and institutional directives on clinical and biomedical research.
Coming immediately after the Chancellor Hawgood’s announcement of UCSF’s hiring freeze, the April 8 Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic Town Hall sought to clarify the state of affairs with research at UCSF. Above all else, EVCP Lowenstein noted there will be exceptions (e.g., postdocs and others), most likely those who qualify as essential personnel on projects, and who are entirely supported by sponsored project funding. He added that exceptions to the hiring freeze would be elucidated at future meetings and through subsequent guidance, and plans will need to involve control points at the level of the school and department. A number of HR-related questions were also addressed (see Academic Senate Partnership with Human Resources in the Time of COVID-19).
Rather than simply facilitating a Q&A session during the town halls, the Senate has been proactive in gathering faculty questions beforehand, thereby giving speakers and panelists a chance to review the questions and focus their remarks in order to address topics and concerns of importance to the faculty. The Senate manages all questions submitted during the town hall and coordinates directly with the administration to either provide answers and updates or promote discussions about an important issue. Please submit questions for the May 6 town hall here. If you have topics or issues for subsequent town halls please send an email to Ken Laslavic at Kenneth.Laslavic@ucsf.edu.
The Office of Research has maintained a streamlined COVID-19 FAQ on UCSF research guidance, which is available here. The Office of Research maintains a website repository of all of its town halls, including those co-sponsored by the Senate; recordings can be found there.
Using $82,450 from the Senate Chancellor's Fund and $50K from repurposed Senate RAP endowments, the Academic Senate is proud to sponsor the UCSF COVID-19 Rapid Response Pilot (C19 RRP) Grant Program, as well as devoting an additional $8K to the Back-Up Care program, raising that total to $28K. The latter is designated to offset childcare needs associated with the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency back-up care is provided in partnership with Bright Horizons, and the Committee on Faculty Welfare encourages any faculty-member who is struggling with dependent care during this crisis to consider this resource.
UCSF COVID-19 Rapid Response Pilot Grant Program
Given that many aspects of the epidemiology and viral pathogenesis of COVID-19 are not fully understood, with this initiative the Senate is supporting campus research efforts to better understand COVID-19 and this pandemic. This pilot is focused broadly on COVID-related projects, including fundamental virology, immunology, epidemiology, diagnostic development, therapeutic development and testing, development of animal models, medical interventions, and clinical implementation. The Senate also encourages redirected research from labs not normally involved in coronavirus research.
The C19 RRP Grant Program seeks proposals for grants in two award tiers, $5K (ten proposals for up to one year) and $40K (three to four proposals for up to one year):
- Proposals can address a broad spectrum of COVID-19 related research, including viral pathogenesis, immunology, epidemiology, diagnostic development, therapeutic development and testing, development of animal models, medical interventions, and clinical implementation.
- Successful applications will describe how completion of the proposed work will impact the current understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and/or the COVID-19 pandemic
- Successful applications will describe the next steps if the aims of the project are achieved, and plans for supporting that next-step research effort (e.g., extramural funding).
- High-risk thinking or approaches that will likely yield explicit “deliverables” (including discovery that the idea was wrong) will also be considered.
- Multiple-PI and cross-disciplinary efforts are encouraged.
Created by UC Board of Regents Standing Order 105, the UC San Francisco (UCSF) Academic Senate is empowered to exercise direct control over such academic matters as admissions for degrees and curricula, which are of central importance to the University. The UCSF Division of Academic Senate provides an independent forum to discuss faculty-related campus wide academic concerns. In other areas, the Senate exercises an active advisory role. The Academic Senate works within the larger body of UCSF, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.