Organizational Transformation: FAQ

Many decisions remain as Extension moves toward a structure and function that fits within the constraints of reduced state funding. This reorganization is not limited to Extension; OSU as a whole is reorganizing to better address the future needs of the state, nation, and world. Because it appears that the financial climate will not change soon, Extension must make changes in order to deliver the research expertise of OSU to the people of Oregon.

Questions & Comments

 As conversations continue and questions arise about Extension transformation, we welcome your comments and will continue to keep you informed.

You can submit questions regarding this reorganization directly to Scott Reed, as well as express your concerns and discuss these with other Extension staff and faculty.  The answers provided below come directly from the Extension Service Director and Vice Provost of Outreach & Engagement, Scott Reed.

Questions are in bold with the answers below. To submit a question that you would like answered on this FAQ page, please email us.

"Can you clarify the Program Bridge Line?"

Because our budget reduction “glide path” has used attrition and vacancy management to trim budgets, not all program areas will likely meet minimum fund balances at the end of the FY10. In that case, some of the unbudgeted reserve will be made available as bridge funds to maintain our workforce into the new fiscal year and next biennium’s budgets are developed.

"We keep reading implementing over time, yet we also hear July 1, 2013 as a deadline for completion of implementing.  Please explain the difference in the timeline."

In order to have a target for implementing recommendations forthcoming from the implementation committees, we have given ourselves a biennium beyond the current year to 1) reconcile new budgets provided by the 2011 State Legislature and 2) learn and adapt to how things are working as we phase into the “transformed” Extension Service. It’s likely that some items may be accomplished quite early in the process and others will take more time. In this case, “over time” means approximately three years.

"Since our reporting year ends in December, would that be the appropriate time to change supervision for off-campus faculty?"

This is a very good suggestion to consider. Anything that can make the transition smoother should be on the table. We’ll ask the Area Administration Committee to include timing among their deliberations.

"Under the current model there are only four levels.  Regional Directors do not currently administer local faculty.  The staff chair does."

This observation is correct about faculty supervision. However, on October 8, 2009, the University Community received the Strategic Alignment and Budget Reduction Implementation document and presidential decisions which contained academic and administrative guidelines, including the provision of four levels of reporting described as…”there are typically four layers of management between a faculty member and the Provost/President (Faculty Member—Department Chair/Head—Dean—Provost/President). While academic units have Associate/Assistant Deans or Associate/Assistant Chairs/Heads, they serve in a staff role for their unit, versus being involved in direct evaluation of faculty members. In contrast, many administrative units and academic support units have evolved structures with more than four layers of management. The guidelines are primarily directed towards those units. Thus, translating for Extension, the current model would count five levels using the guideline (Faculty Member-Staff Chair-Regional Director-Director/Associate Director-Provost/President).

Doug Hart indicated that he is also fielding a lot of questions and concerns over the "Area Administator" piece, more than other parts of the organizational transformation process. He wanted to reassure everyone that Janet and Scott are working at a blog or some similar venue for discussion and communication.

"AOC/OSU Task Force requested us to prioritize 1-to-33 current Extension programs.  How can that help in a transformation to be based on needs assessment and priority-issue teams?"

This exercise will provide one data set towards understanding the programs most valued and perceived as important. It was conceived and implemented by one of the County Commissioners on the Task Force, and may inform their recommendations. The Assessment Implementation Committee will further consider a design for regular and systematic data collection that may differ from the current exercise.

 

"Will Eastern Oregon University, or some other institution, take the lead in administering Extension in parts of Oregon?"

 Extension will continue to be administered through Oregon State University, as it has been for 100 years. OSU is Oregon’s designated Land Grant university, which means that it is funded through state and federal statute to deliver research-based Extension information to the people of Oregon. That Land Grant mission is specific to OSU and central to its principles.

 

"Why should our county pay for salaries for Extension faculty who will end up working in a different county?"

County funds generally do not pay for faculty salaries. Except in a few cases where counties have the resources, state and federal funds pay faculty salaries wherever faculty are located across the state. County funds historically cover office support—items such as space, support staff, travel and communications.

Currently, 88 percent of off-campus OSU Extension faculty deliver educational programs in more than one county. Where the desks of Extension faculty are located is not as important as the ability to deliver needed programs, expertise, and information to county residents. The collaboration between county, state, and federal partners makes it possible for state and federally funded faculty to deliver programs through county-supported office space.

"Why are faculty being pulled from counties at the same time that OSU is hiring additional faculty on campus?"

Faculty members are not being pulled from county positions to be placed on campus, nor are the funds being moved to on-campus positions from those who might retire from off-campus positions.

Research and Extension faculty are funded by state and federal budgets, which are separate from the Education and General funds used to pay teaching faculty on campus. Because OSU has seen an increase in student enrollment on campus, the increase in tuition funds is being used to hire additional teaching faculty on campus. Tuition funds cannot be used for research and Extension faculty.

Because research and Extension salaries come from state and federal budgets, they are directly affected by budget cuts made by state and federal legislators. As long as state budgets continue to shrink, OSU Extension must plan for a future with less state funding. 

"It seems that this restructuring is moving the focus of Extension away from its rural, agricultural roots toward urban-based programs. How will a restructured Extension be relevant to rural communities?"

Extension will continue to offer problem-based education to all the people of Oregon. Important programs, such as 4-H, nutrition education, and agricultural, forestry and natural resources outreach, will continue to be part of Extension throughout Oregon. We invite your ideas on what programs are most relevant to the future of your communities as we plan future investments in Extension programming.

The focus of Extension that began 100 years ago remains relevant today. Positive youth development, safe and sustainable food supply, and economic development for farms, businesses, and communities are cornerstones of Extension education, important to both rural and urban communities.

Perhaps no other organization in Oregon does more to promote connections between urban and rural Oregonians than OSU’s research and Extension. OSU Extension has 20,000 trained volunteers who contribute skilled service in their communities equivalent to 800 full-time employees.

OSU programs have helped connect producers and consumers with new markets and new varieties of crops and products. As a result, Oregon is known for the highest quality food and other products: seafood, wine, beer, hazelnuts, vegetables, berries, soft winter wheat, country beef, onions, potatoes. Food connects people across rural and urban landscapes.

Extension Forestry programs help landowners sustainably manage Oregon’s 4.5 million acres of private timberland. Extension watershed education programs help communities across the state manage storm water and protect freshwater resources.

More than 150,000 school children are engaged in 4-H activities statewide, activities that have been shown to contribute to positive future leadership and citizenship.

Extension 4-H programs, such as the Urban-Rural Exchange, make it possible for middle-school children to experience the lives of families on the “other” side of the rural-urban divide.

In addition, Extension programs bring together county commissioners and local decision-makers to increase the understanding of shared stewardship across the state. And one last, very measurable contribution is that, on average, every $1 of county money returns about $4 of state, federal, or grant money.

"What are the next steps Extension is taking?"

A taskforce representing OSU and the Association of Oregon Counties will continue to meet during September and October. Their task is to identify local needs for information and education that will guide Extension programming across the state.

Many decisions remain as Extension moves toward a structure and function that fits within the constraints of reduced state funding. This reorganization is not limited to Extension; OSU as a whole is reorganizing to better address the future needs of the state, nation, and world. Because it appears that the financial climate will not change soon, Extension must make changes in order to deliver the research expertise of OSU to the people of Oregon.

As conversations continue and questions arise about Extension transformation, we welcome your comments and will continue to keep you informed.

Comments 

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Area Administration Question
Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 07/29/2010 - 8:49am.
One of the rationals for going to an area adminstraive model is to reduce the number of administrative layers to four (between the faculty and the Provost).   It seems that we already at that level:   Faculty→staff chairs→Scott/Debbie→Provost.  I don't include the 2 regional directors as an administrative layer because faculty don't report to them.  The proposed county coordinator position are not included as an administratuve layer because faculty don't report to them.  However, I assume the county coordinators retain some of their former adminsitrative FTE and the dollars associatied with that to deal with budgets, office staff, etc.,, so is this really a admiinstative-financial shell game?

I really don't see how the area admininstative model creates efficiencies, adds value, or reduces costs.
Stephen Fitzgerald

Administrative levels
Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 07/30/2010 - 7:14am.
This item was addressed in an earlier question above. In respect to roles of county coordinators and area adminsitrators, we have asked the implementation committee considering area administration to take a close look and recommend options.