ELT Minutes, October 27, 2011

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
October 27, 2011
102B Libby Hall, Orono Campus

Present: Dennis Harrington, Lisa Phelps, Jon Prichard, John Rebar and Fran Sulinski.

Facilitator: Lisa

Note Taker: John

Please note: Due to the confidentiality and sensitivity of some agenda items, these ELT minutes do not represent the full content of each meeting.


  • The new Interim Assistant Vice President for Human Resources at UMaine is Tamara Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell is “on loan” from the UMS where she was to work on organizational development. Fran has met with Tamara to convey HR issues that currently need to be addressed within Cooperative Extension. A national search for the permanent Assistant VP is being launched.

Civil Rights DeBriefing: Fran reported on the debriefing session that was held with the Civil Rights Coordinators. It has become clear that at the local offices Civil Rights Coordinators are challenged to get the cooperation and compliance of their peers. Some feel that Civil Rights isn’t taken as seriously as needed until there is a federal review. The Diversity Committee has agreed to examine this issue. The peer-to-peer accountability with the management of Civil Rights has coordinators acting without authority to hold colleagues accountable for not complying with organizational requirements.

Northeast Land-Grant University Management Meeting for 2013: Dennis reported that UMaine Cooperative Extension will host the Northeast organizational managers of the land-grant Universities in 2013. This is a group comprised of the fiscal and operational managers of the Northeast Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations. Dennis will take the lead for hosting this two-day conference.

Fort Kent County Office: Aroostook County government has notified the Aroostook Extension staff that the Fort Kent Extension Office staff must relocate by the end of 2012. The county needs the office space for other priorities. John will work with the Extension Association, county staff and county government to explore alternatives.

4-H Camps Financial Management: Dennis is making meaningful progress with the 4-H Camp staffs with their financial and operational management. He commends the camp staffs for their good work and commitment as they navigate through the financial transitions. He feels that the target date of January 1, 2012, for a transition to the UMaine financial management system is on track.

Harvest for Hunger Program: The Harvest for Hunger program has collected over 176,000 pounds of food for food cupboards and soup kitchens in Maine. The program has collected almost a half-million pounds of food in the past three (3) years. A huge note of congratulations and thanks goes out to all who are part of this food security effort.

FY 2012 Staffing Plan: The FY 2012 staffing plan is being implemented as ELT members are connecting with county constituents and staff. The ELT is very grateful for the support of faculty and staff for the positions that are being proposed. The process of writing job descriptions, forming search committees and completing position description questionnaires (PDQ) is underway.

Caribou Hall: The agreement for the transition of Caribou Hall from UMA to UMaine has been drafted and verbally agreed to. One final document regarding the land the building is on, is still required. After that issue is addressed, the transfer agreement will be signed by UMA, UM and the UMS.

Organizational Meeting Possibilities: The Staff Development Committee is proposing a two-day organizational meeting in 2013. John has suggested an online organizational conference for 2012. The Staff Development Committee is seeking guidance on how a virtual conference would be implemented. A concern is how many members of our staff would actually participate? If there isn’t adequate interest for using this format, then it should not be pursued. And, the value of an online conference must be based in the quality of the agenda and how it addresses high priority needs for our workforce.

Shifting Support Staff Responsibilities: ELT members have connected with various support staff on shifting responsibilities with the implementation of our FY 2012 staffing plan.

Funds Generated at Camps and County Offices that are kept Locally: County based faculty and staff have had a long and successful history generating funds to support local programming. Funds generated by Extension employees, through their programming efforts, must be considered University funding and not the camp’s, local Extension office’s or Extension Association’s. Those funds need to be managed within the University of Maine and not in local offices, local bank accounts and county Extension association controlled accounts. This is the determination of University legal counsel. This transition is now underway with the residential 4-H camping programs. Funding generated locally and sent to the University will be available to staff to support local programming. Cooperative Extension will not take any funding generated locally. Extension will only manage these funds. Dennis, Renae Byard and Patti McPheters with support of the ELT, will initiate an educational and training effort for all employees that generate funding, or who are managing funding, through programming. The goal is to complete this process by June 30, 2012. Lisa, Jon and John will work with Executive Committees to explain the situation and the changes that are required.

National Indicators for the Plan of Work: NIFA has issued a list of outcomes and outcome indicators with the aspiration that they be common to all plans of work for states as part of the update beginning with FY12. Upon review, the ELT found them to be inconsistent in format with our current outcomes and indicators and the planning and reporting system. Dennis sought guidance with NIFA administrators. Based on their response the ELT is choosing to delay incorporating them into our current POW. We will be part of ongoing discussions with NIFA and other Extension programs to refine the format of the NIFA indicators and blend them into our future POW.

Outdated Extension Fact Sheets: Apparently there are numerous UMaine Cooperative Extension fact sheets that are either outdated, or we don’t have faculty/staff expertise in the area of the publication, or the publication is not in one of our core program areas. Occasionally, these outdated or disconnected fact sheets are accessed by the media who may also be looking for contact people to talk to. Lisa is suggesting that Extension needs to have a resource person for each of our publications. And, she is recommending that out-of-date or disconnected publications be eliminated from our inventory. Fran is going to work with Tracey Nelson to conduct a review of our existing publications catalog for titles that are not connected to a resource person or are out-of-date. Fran will report back to the ELT for further discussion on this issue.


  • Congratulations to Dave Fuller and Steve Johnson on the award of $121,340 from the University of Vermont (administering funds from the US Dept of Agriculture – Northeast SARE) for the project, “Increased Profits from Disease-Free Garlic Planting Stock.”
  • Update from the ELT minutes of 9-22-11: Congratulations to Wesley Neff who has been awarded $225,000 by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to fund the Waldo County Maine Families Program for FY2012. This award is indicative of the high value of the program to the state of Maine and DHHS, who are limiting funding to their highest priorities.
  • Update from the ELT minutes 10-12-11: Congratulations to Karen Hatch Gagne who has been awarded $87,046 for the year long Operation Military Kids grant, $15,000 for the Military 4-H club grant and $20,000 for the Local/Regional Support Military Grant. The total is $122,046
  • Congratulations to Richard Kersbergen who has been awarded $271,601 by the USDA in a partnership with the University of New Hampshire, for a fund to help organic dairy producers to meet the demands of new milk markets.