Guiding Document

Purpose

The EPC was formed in 1997 to further Extension’s mission and support Extension Professionals by:

  1. representing professionals in Extension;
  2. facilitating communications among Extension professionals, administration, classified staff, and faculty;
  3. gathering input and developing recommendations through regular communication with professional staff, including newsletters and annual meetings, on issues related to Extension professionals that are brought to the EPC by Extension professionals, Extension administration or other staff groups within Extension;
  4. bringing issues of general concern forward to appropriate bodies, especially issues related to the hiring, evaluation, retention, promotion, professional development, evaluation, non-contracted benefits, policies, retirement, and layoff of Extension professionals;
  5. overseeing peer subcommittees formed to address issues or lead processes relevant to professionals, such as promotions and sabbaticals which are reviewed by the Extension Professionals Promotion Review Committee (EPPRC);
  6. conducting a vote among Extension professionals when necessary;
  7. coordinating an annual meeting of all Extension professionals with topics based on gathered feedback;
  8. maintaining and distributing a list of Extension professionals; and
  9. contacting new Extension professionals (preferably within two weeks of their start date) and setting up a process to advise and connect them to University and Extension policies, resources and benefits, particularly those specific to Extension professionals. Co-chairs assume responsibility for making contact.

Definition

In this document, the term “professionals” is defined as people who are represented by the University of Maine System Professional Staff Association (UMPSA).

In addition, UMaine Cooperative Extension recognizes professionals as:

Definition of an Extension Professional

I. University of Maine Professional Staff Association (UMPSA)

  1. Extension professionals (formerly called Extension Associates) are non-faculty, non-classified Extension staff. Extension professional employees with appointments of seven months or more are covered by the collective bargaining agreement between the University of Maine System (UMS) and the University of Maine Professional Staff Association (UMPSA).
  2. Extension professionals may supervise or evaluate other Extension professionals, hourly employees or student workers. Extension professional employees with supervisory responsibility for other Extension professional employees may or may not be part of the UMPSA bargaining unit. If not, they are covered by the Handbook for Non-Represented Faculty, Professional and Administrative Staff. Contact your supervisor if you have questions about your status.
  3. Extension professionals are assigned a supervisor who will evaluate their work in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement of university policy. During the probationary period evaluations are to be conducted every six months, and annually thereafter.
  4. All other terms and conditions are as governed by the UMS-UMPSA collective bargaining agreement.

II. University of Maine Employment Policies

  1. Extension professionals do not hold academic titles and are salaried.
  2. Extension professional positions are categorized by the nature of their principal activities and the educational preparation required to do the work. Extension professionals are expected to exercise significant independent judgment and decision-making.
  3. Extension professionals should coordinate their schedules with supervisors and others to meet the reasonable demands of the position. The standard full-time workweek is considered to be 40 hours. It is the joint responsibility of the Extension professional and the supervisor to maintain reasonable work demands and schedules. Consult UMaine Extension Concern Resolution Procedures if needed.

III. UMaine Cooperative Extension Expectations for Professional Employees

  1. Extension professional positions require a bachelor’s degree or extensive work experience or specialized training; further degrees may be required.
  2. Extension professionals with program responsibilities may have specific duties involving teaching, research or public service and these activities are part of a Plan of Work that will assist and extend faculty efforts. The Extension professional’s individual Plan of Work is a subset of a larger state Plan of Work.
  3. Extension professionals are expected to follow the professional development plan reflected in their professional review process and may be eligible to apply to UMaine Cooperative Extension for sabbatical leave.
  4. Extension professional employees may be promoted through the Extension Professional Career Ladder or, if a position has changed substantially, the employee may request a position review that may result in a revised job description and altered compensation.
  5. Extension professional positions are expected to carry out administration, management, instruction, and/or support/service responsibilities.
  6. Extension professionals with program responsibilities report quantitative and qualitative program information such as key program components, output indicators, contacts, program linkages, success stories and days allocated.

History

On September 30, 1997, Extension Professionals met with members of the Administrative Council (now the Extension Leadership Team) to discuss several issues of concern. The group concluded that professionals and University of Maine Cooperative Extension would be better served if there was a representative group to deal with the issues, enhance communications among various groups, and provide guidance for a peer review process. To this end, ten professionals met at the UMaine Cooperative Extension Open Space Conference, October 20, 1997, and conceived the Extension Professionals Committee as well as a list of issues to pursue. On November 26, 1997, the first EPC meeting was convened by the founding members Mary Sue Weeks, Melanie Spencer, Rhonda Frey, Ron Drum, and Don Barry.

Organization

EPC is composed of six people. Members will have one- to three-year terms, and can serve a maximum of 6 consecutive years (on a calendar year schedule). Committee members will recruit volunteers to replace members who have completed their terms, with the goal of diverse representation on the committee and any subcommittees (mix of gender; campus/county/camps; variety of program areas; grant, contract or specially funded positions/base money funded positions).

Specific roles to be assigned include:

  • ELT Liaison
  • Data Collection – gathering feedback and comments from professional staff and sharing with the committee
  • Recruitment and new member orientation – welcome email with links to resources like EPC page, add new people to email groups
  • Minutes and website management

Operation

The committee will meet quarterly or more often if needed. Some or all members may meet with the Extension Leadership Team (ELT) and members of the ELT may assist the EPC in their work if it seems mutually desirable. Committee members will use the “extension.epc@maine.edu” e-mail group as their main method of communication between meetings.

After each committee meeting, the committee will make notes available upon request and request feedback or a vote (if needed) with all Extension professionals. When appropriate, and to support communication loops, summaries will also be shared with other staff groups within UMaine Extension. One member will be designated to maintain an archive of meeting minutes, which he/she shall pass on to future designees. Meeting minutes will be available for other professionals to view if they wish.

Whenever possible, the committee will aim for 100 percent participation of Extension professionals, with majority the rule on decisions involving a vote.

When appointed to the EPC, members will agree to these guiding principles to perform their committee work:

  1. The committee will treat discussions with confidentiality.
  2. The committee will honor diverse participation, confidentiality, and consensus agreements during deliberations.
  3. Committee members will identify when they are speaking as an individual or on behalf of the group.
  4. Committee members will commit to a work environment of collegiality and respect.

Subcommittees

When necessary, the EPC will oversee committees that are formed to address issues or lead processes related to Extension professionals, including the Extension Professional Promotion Review Committee (EPPRC). These committees will be comprised of a diverse mix of Extension Professionals based on the issue being reviewed and will include at least one member of the current EPC.

Extension Professional Promotion Review Committee (EPPRC)

The role of the EPPRC is to make recommendations on professional employee promotions and sabbatical requests. The EPC, in collaboration with the ELT and the EPPRC, will evaluate the success of the professional and sabbatical processes on a periodic basis.

The EPPRC will consist of three to five members (including one current EPC member) serving two-year terms. Ideally, the terms would overlap so the members rotate on and off in different years. Members can serve additional non-consecutive terms.

This document was created by founding committee members Don Barry, co-chair; Melanie Spencer, co-chair; Ron Drum; Rhonda Frey; and Mary Sue Weeks. September 1998. It was revised in October 2018 by current committee members: Dana Rickman, Laura Personette, Lyndsey Smith, Michaele Bailey, Patti Chapman and Scarlett Tudor and was approved by Extension Professionals by email vote, April 2019.