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UPDATED NEWS BRIEFS: Survey continues, 'strengthening community' comes next


The Campus Community Survey team today (March 1) announced a response rate so far of 34.5 percent combined for the Davis and Sacramento campuses.

All staff, faculty and students are urged to complete the survey — and, in so doing, have a chance to win iPods, gift cards and more. The Davis campus plans to announce the third round of awards next week.

Also next week, the campus on Tuesday begins a series of Strengthening Campus Community Forums — where everyone is invited to offer ideas on how to make the campus community stronger, more resilient, inclusive and vibrant.

The organizers said the forums will include “conversations about our strengths as community assets and steps we can take to support one another, improve our deliberations and be more open to new ideas.”

Here is the schedule:

  • Tuesday, March 5 — 3-5 p.m., multipurpose room, Student Community Center
  • Friday, March 15 — noon-2 p.m., MU II, Memorial Union
  • Thursday, April 11 — noon-2 p.m., multipurpose room, Student Community Center

Provost, ASUCD announce Jobs Initiative

The administration and the ASUCD this week launched the UC Davis Jobs Initiative to improve students’ employment prospects before and after graduation. The “before” part includes an effort to boost the number of jobs on campus.

UC Davis at this time employs about 8,000 undergraduates annually, and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter’s campus budget priorities for 2013-14 include more student jobs.

Hexter joined Rebecca Sterling, ASUCD president, and Adela de la Torre, interim vice chancellor of Student Affairs, on Feb. 26 to announce the Jobs Initiative and attend a drop-in jobs forum.

The Freeborn Hall event, which drew about 500 students, included presentations by the Internship and Career Center and the Center for Student Involvement; alumni speakers; opportunities to talk with campus and off-campus employers; and workshops on resume and cover letter preparation, and interviewing.

More information is available online.

Video of the news conference.

New systemwide lab safety policies

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter has asked the campus to redouble its commitment to safe laboratory practices by helping to implement new mandatory safety policies.

“This lab safety initiative is driven, in part, by the UC regents’ recent settlement agreement with the Los Angeles district attorney over the tragic death of a UCLA graduate student in a laboratory accident,” Hexter wrote in a Feb. 21 letter to the Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors, and department chairs. “This settlement imposes specific guidelines and time frames for implementation.

“Perhaps more important, I hope you will agree that we want our laboratory work practices to be as safe as possible to minimize the risk and cost of preventable injury, illness or death to our colleagues.”

UPDATE: The UC Office of the President had established today (March 1) as the effective date for the new policies on all campuses, but this morning announced a delay to allow time for wording changes — changes that will not change the intent of the policies but which will provide clarity. UCOP did not specify a new effective date, but indicated it could be in mid-March.

The provost's letter includes a summary of the new policies, with URLs.

Shared Services Center brown bags start March 6

Customers of the administrative Shared Services Center are invited to a new series of brown bags, starting next week, “to provide you with timely updates regarding changes and enhancements in the SSC.”

Karen Hull, associate vice chancellor for Organizational Excellence, said the meetings will focus, in part, on a new round of process redesign. This seven-month effort, she said, will address process challenges as identified by SSC customers in their feedback.

Hull said Organizational Excellence will manage an in-depth evaluation and redesign in the following areas: purchasing-rush orders, purchasing-standard orders, travel and entertainment, accounts payable, recruitments, direct hires, and equities and stipends.

The brown bags also will cover such topics as new training programs, the work of the customer advisory committee, and enhancements to the case management and knowledge management systems.

“We will also use our time together to discuss topics of interest to the customers,” Hull said.

All of the brown bags are scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays in Meeting Room D at the Student Community Center. Here are the dates: March 6 and 27, April 24 and May 22.

Committees named in search for UC president

The Board of Regents today (March 1) announced the first steps in the international search for a successor to President Mark G. Yudof, who will end his tenure as the UC systemwide leader in August.

Chair Sherry Lansing named eight regents, including the student regent and alumni regent, to serve with her on the Special Committee to Consider the Selection of a President.

Three advisory committees include the following UC Davis representatives:

  • Academic — Robert Powell, professor, chemical engineering and materials science, and food science and technology, and chair, systemwide Academic Senate; and Rachael Goodhue, professor, agricultural and resource economics
  • Staff — Jacob “J.P.” Eres, manager, Volunteer Services, UC Davis Health System
  • Student — Meredith Niles, external vice president, Graduate Student Association
  • Alumni — Charles "Chuck" Nichols, president, Cal Aggie Alumni Association

The special committee is expected to make a recommendation to the regents at the board's July meeting.

Read the complete news release.

A conversation with bloggers

Conversations with Writers next week turns into a conversation with bloggers, when the University Writing Program hosts Nina Amir and Chris Higgins for a panel discussion.

Amir is the founder of Write Nonfiction in November, a blog and writing challenge; and writes four other blogs, including How to Blog a Book and Write Nonfiction NOW! She is the author of How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time, among other books.

Higgins is best known for his work for Mental Floss and This American Life, and the book The Blogger Abides: A Practical Guide to Writing Well and Not Starving.

The free program is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday (March 5) in 126 Voorhies Hall.

Flexible funds become inflexible March 15

Employees who set up health and-or dependent care flexible spending accounts in 2012 have until Friday, March 15, to spend whatever funds remain in those accounts — or lose the money.

This grace period runs from Jan. 1 to March 15 every year, for spending from the prior year’s accounts. All claims for the 2012 plan year, including those stemming from expenses during the grace period, are due by April 15.

Employees with flexible spending accounts can get more information on the CONEXIS website. Moe information about FSAs is available here.

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