FAQ

April 28, 2017 | April 12, 2017 | February 23, 2017 | February 17, 2017 | February 10, 2017 | May 5, 2017 | May 19, 2017 | May 26, 2017 | June 2, 2017 | June 9, 2017 | June 23, 2017 |June 30, 2017 | July 14, 2017 | July 21, 2017 | August 4, 2017 | August 18, 2017 |

August 18, 2017

Q: If positions are posted for internal candidates does the internal recruitment only apply to 133-contracted employees or all current UW-Extension staff?
A: Any current Cooperative Extension employee is eligible to apply for internal recruitments, regardless of the source of funding for the colleague’s current position. Those currently serving in interim appointments through Cooperative Extension are also considered internal candidates. County employees and those employed by another UW campus and funded by Cooperative Extension would be considered external candidates, because they are not Cooperative Extension employees.
Q: I’ve heard that we will not be able to apply for Extension Specialist or Outreach Programmer positions for 2 to 3 years. Is this true?
A: No. Program leaders, including Associate Deans and Program Directors, are currently planning for Extension Specialist and Outreach Programmer positions. We expect to have a few of these positions posted this fall, and we expect recruitments for both types of positions to be ongoing as Institutes and Centers establish their program priorities throughout the next year.

August 4, 2017

Q: Will a probationary faculty member who successfully competes for a new academic staff position be able to keep their current salary?

A: Because it is extremely difficult to provide general answers about specific situations, the Office of the Dean and Director will be sending personalized letters to all probationary faculty members outlining specific options available to each of them.

July 21, 2017

Q: What is the difference between a Program Coordinator and an Extension Educator? Are both expected to contribute to our educational mission?
 A: The position outlines offer details about the expectations and qualifications of both Program Coordinators and Extension Educators. Both positions will contribute to our educational mission in similar and in different ways.
Q: Counties are being offered a $10,000 “rebate” toward their Cooperative Extension fees this year. Will this continue into the future?
 A: Cooperative Extension is using this approach to encourage every community to co-fund a local office and we are committed to this program. Based on current funding levels we plan to continue the $10K rebate next year. In light of recent unpredictable trends in both state and federal funding for UW Extension, it is not possible to make a long-term guarantee for this approach. Any significant reduction in funding would require us to reexamine all of our current spending.

July 14, 2017

Q: What happens to current program teams as we continue to implement the new model?

A: Because each program area deploys teams differently and because each individual team is unique, current teams will each likely have slightly different transition plans. Many of the current Program Area teams will continue as they are until their Program Office completely transitions to the new model. Other teams are a close match with new Centers, and their activities will transition to those new Centers.

Q: Why are salaries different for different content areas?

A: Flat-fees charged to counties vary by content areas, but individual salaries are no longer the basis for county fees. The flat-fee that the county pays will be a portion of the total salary and fringe expenses for each Cooperative Extension employee. This amount is not pro-rated to the specific salary of an individual, and does not determine their individual salary.

We do not have a set salary scale that varies across programming areas. Salaries vary by person across the organization based on a variety of factors, including position expectations, individual experience and qualifications.

Flat-fees were developed based on the anticipated qualifications, salary information for recent hires and the ability for counties and tribes to contribute to each position.

The benefit of this change from a percentage to a flat fee is that the county will know what their cost is each year, and not be surprised by additional costs for promotions or pay increases.

Q: Will we have fewer positions in the new model?

A: Yes. One of the reasons Dean Karl Martin has discussed the need for internal searches is that Cooperative Extension will have fewer total employees in the future than we did prior to the state budget reduction. Because more than 80% of Cooperative Extension’s budget supports salaries, any budget reduction will necessarily result in fewer positions. Launching searches limited to internal candidates is one way to try to ensure a position for our current colleagues.

Q: Karl mentioned something about an app developer department in the new model. How would someone apply for one of those positions?

A: New IT positions have not yet been identified. Any new position, in IT or any other sector of the organization, will be posted for recruitment. A new position is one that is at least 50 percent different from a position currently within the organization. The decision to recruit internally first or to start with a completely open search will depend on the exact nature of the specific position. All new positions will be advertised to all Cooperative Extension colleagues.

Q: Volunteer development is a key component of our Extension programming. That is still absent from the model. How will that be addressed or included in the model?

A: Volunteer development is being considered along with other program support services, such as program evaluation, IT and communications and marketing. Huron completed an assessment of several operational areas, including volunteer development. The Sponsors are currently considering several options for these functions. Some will be developed in the coming months, and others may not be implemented until Institute and Center directors are onboard and able to help shape these support services.

Q: When will the new specialist positions be shared or posted?

A: The Sponsors are currently reviewing position outlines for several positions, including Extension Specialists. These outlines will be general descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of faculty Extension Specialists. Specific faculty positions will be developed and posted as the leaders of new Departments, Institutes and Centers are hired and they identify the specialist roles needed in their areas. The search for Departmental Associate Deans is currently underway, making it difficult to identify an exact timeline for when specific Extension Specialist positions will be defined and released.

Q: Are the position outlines for Institutes or Centers?

Every programming position will be affiliated with at least one center. The first position outlines released will be for Extension Educator (primarily a geographic position), Associate Extension Educator (primarily a geographic position), Program Coordinator (primarily a geographic position), Outreach Programmer (primarily a center or institute position) and Extension Specialist (primarily a center or institute position). Future position outlines will summarize leadership positions in Institutes and Centers.

June 30, 2017

Q: What is the timeline for filling the Extension Specialist and Outreach Programmer positions? Some counties are interested in these positions in terms of programming and office space. 

A: New Associate Deans will work with current Program Directors to develop and recruit for these new positions. We are in the early stages of hiring Associate Deans (see above), so an exact timeline for when these decisions will be made is difficult to determine at this time.

Q: Will the Area Extension Directors be taking the lead on the FY 2018 county budgets?

A: This will depend on the county. The Assistant Deans, Regional Directors, Department Heads, and Area Extension Directors will work as a team to identify the best approach for the 6-month contract and FY 2018 budgets.  The AEDs will need time to establish trust and relationships with the committees and Department Heads will be expected to continue assisting with meetings through the transition.

Q: What is being done to speed up or enhance employee assistance?

A: The Office of Human Resources (OHR) offers a free and confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefit that you can take advantage of by contacting your HR representative or by visiting the University of Wisconsin System Health & Wellness Webpage, which includes links and information for how to access these services.

June 23, 2017

Q: Where will the new Area Extension Directors (AEDs) be housed?

A: The AEDs will be housed in or near the geographic area they will be serving. Assistant Deans Dave Berard and Matt Hanson will work with each AED to determine the location that will most effectively serve the area’s needs while being mindful of costs. Contact details will be sent to all staff and partners when the new AED locations are finalized. In the meantime, please reach out to Dave Berard or Matt Hanson with questions.

Q: A Department Head in my county was named to an Area Extension Director position. How will our programming needs be met with the shift in the role of that Extension staff member?

A: The new Area Extension Director, in cooperation with the Assistant Dean, will work closely with your county to identify opportunities for meeting your programming needs.

June 16, 2017

Q: Will I be able to review the full menu of detailed position descriptions before the deadline to apply for the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP)?

A: No. The Integration Work Group is crafting position outlines for the new positions in the nEXT Generation model, which will not be the same as individual position descriptions. We expect position outlines to be available before the deadline to accept an approved VSIP application. Reminder: the deadline to apply for VSIP is June 23. The effective dates of separation have been extended to January 31, 2018. If your VSIP application is accepted, you will have 15 days to accept or decline the final decision by the Chancellor.

Q: What is the status of the 2017 merit process?

A: Dean Karl Martin sent notification of one-time merit payments earlier this week. As a reminder, counties were not asked to contribute to these one-time merit payments.

June 9, 2017

Q: When will detailed position descriptions be available for all types of positions throughout the organization?

A: The Integration Work Group is currently drafting position outlines for more than a dozen types of general positions that will exist throughout the organization. These outlines will convey reporting relationships, connections between specific roles and centers, institutes and departments, but they are general in nature, and are not the same as the specific position descriptions that everyone works under with in Cooperative Extension. Specific position descriptions detailing individuals’ job responsibilities will be generated over time as we move through implementation. The process is already underway for geographic based positions (e.g., Area Assistant Deans and Area Extension Directors), program roles (e.g., Associate Deans for the new Departments) will follow. Administrative positions will be the third area to be reviewed and detailed.

Q: Will employees have to apply for their current positions?

A: There is no way to give a general answer to this question, because each individual situation will be unique. Early on, the Sponsors stated that the nEXT Gen project will not issue blanket layoff notices. Limiting layoffs has been a goal of this reorganization since the beginning. As new position descriptions are being developed, a comparison of current and new position responsibilities will be done as individual positions are built out through implementation. For example, four current County Department Heads were in positions very similar to the new single-county Area Extension Director positions, so a new recruitment was not necessary for those four positions. The project will continue to follow this practice as we move forward.

Q: Has there been a fiscal analysis of the difference in administrative costs between our current structure and the new model?

A: The Project Sponsors are closely analyzing the costs of the new model to ensure it meets the targeted reductions by area outlined by Chancellor Sandeen in her February 10, 2016 memo. Meeting these reduction targets is important, because it is difficult to cleanly analyze differences in administrative costs between our current structure and the new model.

Currently, many administrative tasks are carried-out through partial appointments funded through buy-outs and temporary salary increases. Last year we budgeted more than $500,000 for temporary salary increases. Earlier Huron surveys of Cooperative Extension personnel and nEXT Gen work group reports revealed that many colleagues are spending more time on their administrative roles than the percentage of their partial appointment, and that these administrative tasks are detracting from educational work. Because self-reported effort levels vary, it is difficult to cleanly compare partial appointments to dedicated administrative positions. Streamlining this accounting and accountability is a major reason for the change in this new model.

Q: Does Cooperative Extension intend to close county offices and only fund shared regional and statewide positions?

A: No. As stated in the decisions about geographic coverage, Cooperative Extension will maintain an Extension Office in every county willing to commit to continued funding and space for Cooperative Extension staff.​ We recognize the value in keeping a local presence in every county and keeping the shortest distance possible between the people of Wisconsin and the Extension staff delivering programming to them.

Q: Are counties expected to contribute to the recently announced Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP)?

A: Cooperative Extension will fully fund the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program for Cooperative Extension ranked faculty members. Counties will not be asked to contribute to this program.

June 2, 2017

Q: If a county has had an opening for a year (vacancy) and they will not fill the position until after January 1st of 2018, should the Department Head remove the 6-month position from the budget for July-December?

A: Some counties may want to take these vacancies out of the budget, and some will want to keep them in as a placeholder. The Department Heads will have the best idea about which option their county should choose. It is often easier to keep money in the budget as a vacancy if the position is anticipated to be filled, rather than having to increase the budget at a later date.

Q: As counties transition from a fiscal year to a calendar year budget, what will happen July 1, 2017 for counties that are currently on a fiscal year schedule?

A: There will be a 6-month contract extension to bridge the gap for the transition. The process will largely remain the same as it has in the past. There will still be a budget reconciliation in June of 2017 and the proposed budgets for the contract extension are anticipated to go out in mid-June. Counties will not be billed for positions that are not currently filled and will be reimbursed for vacant positions where appropriate. Counties will see 6-month contract extensions in August of 2017. There will be a final budget reconciliation beginning in January of 2018 to finalize the transition from the current model to the new model.

Q: For candidates that will achieve tenure on July 1 and will require a promotional amount, what is the amount that needs to be indicated in the budget by the Department Head?

A: This promotion was likely already factored into the 2017 county budget when the budget was developed. The promotion increase will continue to be the same (but halved for 6 months). Those that are achieving tenure will still get the raise, and it should not impact the county budgeting process. For the 2018 budget structure (calendar year), a flat fee will be used and will replace the existing processes from the current state.

Q: Are counties expected to contribute to the current salary merit exercise or the recently announced Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP)?

A: Cooperative Extension will fully fund the upcoming one-time merit exercise (final merit decisions have not yet been announced) and the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program for Cooperative Extension ranked faculty members. Counties will not be asked to contribute to either one-time funding effort.

Q: If I apply for the VSIP program and am accepted per the guidelines, am I committed to voluntary separation?

A: No. If your VSIP application is accepted you still have the right to determine if you will or will not participate in the program. Individuals will have 15 days to accept or decline the final decision by the Chancellor. Participants cannot withdraw from the program after they have received their payment.

Q: What percentage of salaries and fringes will the state be paying and what will the county be paying in the new model?

A: We are moving away from a percentage of cost structure and to a flat-fee structure. The flat-fee that the county pays will be a portion of the total salary and fringe expenses for each educator, but, as a flat fee, the amount is not pro-rated to the specific salary of an individual. The benefit of this change from a percentage to a flat fee is that the county will know what their cost is each year, and not be surprised by additional costs for promotions or pay increases.

Q: Should Department Heads include interim staff in the budget for 2018?

A: While the person who fills the position may not necessarily be the current interim, if the county would like to continue to have programming in that area, please build that position into the 2018 model.

Q: What do the flat fees include?

A: These include the county’s contribution to salary and fringe for a position. There is an opportunity to build in $500 of professional development per position, however, some counties already have this built into their budget. The flat fee does not include IT and travel, these will stay in county budgets for now.

Q: How will counties budget for travel?

A: Travel is expected to be budgeted and allocated as it has been in the past until there is a new system in place.

Q: If there is a position that ends up split between two counties – how will the travel mileage be accounted for and reimbursed?

A: The AEDs will be building out a process based on the position’s home location. The costs and the exact details of the process will vary by individual situation.

Q: What happened to the Needs Assessments that were supposed to be completed by the AEDs to determine the staffing for each county?

A: These process had to be reversed due to changes in the timeline. The budget negotiations process took precedence and now the Regional Directors will be working with the Department Heads (with the assistance of the Assistant Deans) to present and submit budget proposals to the counties. The Department Heads have the advantage of knowing the budget process, the current county needs, staffing levels, etc. and can complete this to meet upcoming deadlines. The AED’s will then be able to determine how staffing can be allocated and resourced under the new model.

Q: What approach is being taken with the Tribal Communities?

A: The Assistant Dean of the Northern Zone (Dave Berard) will be speaking with these groups individually.

Q: Are Department Heads and Regional Directors expected to develop an Area Plan of Work?

A: No. The AED will be individually beginning the process of the Needs Assessment for the next budget cycle. Department Heads will continue in their current role until the end of December and assist in completing the county budget negotiation process for 2018.

Q: Will counties be charged differently for the same position?

A: No. The flat fee is based on the FTE amount. The flat fee structure is not a percentage of the salary, it is a set amount that the county will pay to cover a portion of the salary and fringe. The flat fee will not be different between counties.

May 26, 2017

Q: I am an integrated specialist on a UW campus with salary funding from Cooperative Extension. Am I eligible for the VSIP program Dean Karl Martin announced on May 19?

A: No. Faculty members who are employees of another UW campus, even if serving on a joint appointment and receiving Cooperative Extension funding, are not eligible. The following criteria must be met to be eligible for applying:

  1. Currently employed by Cooperative Extension as a ranked faculty member;
  2. At least 55 years of age as of July 1, 2017, vested with the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) as of July 1, 2017 and eligible to receive an annuity under the WRS;
  3. At least five years of service with Cooperative Extension on or before July 1, 2017.

Q: In the current recommendations about Institutes and Centers, where would youth fit into the Agriculture Institute?

A: Youth and adults are appropriate audiences for all educators. Every educator position is expected to deliver programs to relevant audiences. Members of Centers and Institutes will be working together to establish their annual program priorities and serving all audiences will be critical to every Center, Institute and Department.

Q: How would people be able to work across the walls and boundaries between the proposed Institutes and Centers?

A: Educators and other programming staff would have a primary program Center home, and would also have the ability to affiliate with other centers. At this individual level, these affiliations will allow educators to participate in and benefit from Center activities in their areas of interest. Where there are shared areas of interest, Centers and Institutes would also have the ability to work together on collaborative efforts where they can share their complimentary expertise. The structures are intended to allow for collaboration and cooperation, while also organizing programs around objectives and goals to allow for accountability.

May 19, 2017

Q: UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences posted an Associate Dean for Extension position. Is this different from the Associate Dean for Campus Relations included in the earlier recommendations?
A: These positions are different. In the May 12 internal e-mail, we announced that the Sponsors decided not to create a new Cooperative Extension position for an Associate Dean of Campus Partnerships described in earlier campus partnership recommendations.
On May 15, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences began recruiting for an Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach. The UW-Madison recruitment is open only to faculty with a current tenured appointment in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). This CALS Associate Dean will provide leadership for the organization, content, and effectiveness of Cooperative Extension and outreach programs in the college. Unlike previous iterations of this position, the Associate Dean will lead UW-Madison outreach that involves UW-Extension and others, without county-based or Cooperative Extension ANRE leadership.
Q: Is there a separate hiring process for Area Extension Directors in the single county areas of Milwaukee, Dane Brown and Waukesha? Those positions are not part of the current Area Extension Director search.
A: Following a review of the Department Head responsibilities of those in Milwaukee, Dane, Brown and Waukesha Counties, the Office of Human Resources approved directly appointing those serving as Department Heads in those counties into the single-county Area Extension. This approach follows our general practice of directly appointing individuals into positions in the new model that have very similar responsibilities to those in the previous structure.
All of the new Area Extension Directors will have similar responsibilities and expectations.

May 5, 2017

Dean’s Wisline 5/1/2017 FAQs:

Q: Several counties are beginning their budgeting processes for the next year. What is the timeline for discussing future budgets with county officials?

A: Each county works on a slightly different budget timeline, and Assistant Deans, Regional Directors and County Department heads will be working together to engage counties in budget discussions based on the county needs. This work has already begun in some counties and we expect to continue in earnest through September of 2017.

Q: What Information Technology will be provided to Cooperative Extension staff located in counties going forward?

A: nEXT Gen surveys and work group reports indicated a wide variety of IT services and support available to Cooperative Extension colleagues around the state. A recent Huron analysis showed the cost to standardize and centralize IT services across Cooperative Extension to be prohibitive at this time, so we are exploring other options to provide consistent and predictable IT service to all of our educators. Assistant Deans will be discussing this topic with counties in their contract and MOU negotiations.

Q: Why can’t colleagues currently serving in interim appointments compete during internal recruitments (e.g., the Area Extension Director recruitment currently underway)?

A: An important priority for the nEXT Gen project is to limit the number of layoffs needed to meet our UW budget reduction. Because of that, Cooperative Extension has left many positions vacant and has used interim appointments to fill other roles. Staging recruitments to first open the application process to those in faculty and standard academic staff appointments is another approach we are using to address this priority.

Department Head Wisline 5/3/2017 FAQs:

Q: Will there be a bio available for stakeholders if they want to review individual candidates for an area if they do not know them?

A: Finalist materials will be available via the survey for stakeholder feedback. This will include the finalist’s CV and Cover Letter.

Q: When are AED’s supposed to be assuming their new positions?

A: We are planning for the internally recruited AEDs to begin July 1, 2017. There will be time dedicated to onboarding and training, as well as transition time for AED’s that need to wrap up programming. One of the first responsibilities of the AED hires will be to develop relationships within their area.

Q: What plans have been made for partners that would like to complete the survey that do not have computer access?

A: Partners that do not have internet access are invited to visit their local Extension office to review the application materials and to provide their feedback using Extension computers with the help of county extension office staff.

Q: Will Extension be conducting a statewide needs assessment as part of implementation?

A: In the next few months, there will be individual conversations with counties around programs and priorities as it relates to staffing levels. Eventually, the AED’s will work to put in place a longer-term needs assessment process.

Q: How will plans of work be developed for individual staff in counties?

A: This has not yet been framed out. Eventually, AED’s will develop an area plan of work (different than individual plans of work). Until the new process is developed and communicated, we will abide by the same processes we are under now.

Q: Has it been decided if the AEDs will remain in one office, or if they will be floating office to office?

A: This will be part of the AED buildout. County Department Heads will work with the AEDs to identify what is needed to effectively function in a local office environment.

Q: Who will carry on the day-to-day operations in the county?

A: It should not be assumed that AEDs will be like current-state department heads (over multiple counties) or even mini regional directors. They will not be employees of the county. We will need department head assistance to identify current responsibilities carried out for the county that will not fall to the AEDs, and to plan out how and when to transition these responsibilities.

Q: Shifting some current-state Department Head responsibilities back to the county would be adding additional responsibilities to someone else’s job. Will there be reclassification or additional compensation for these new duties?

A: We will need to determine all responsibilities that will no longer fall to Cooperative Extension, make decisions, and develop a clear and thoughtful strategy for how the work will be done in the future.

Q: Is there a list of the things that the contracts will cover for individual educators? (PD, mileage, resources, materials, etc.). These are typically part of the county budget, but if they are part of the larger contract, this could mean transfers in the budgeting process.

A: The IWG is working on this right now. Some of the PD and travel costs will be part of the contract and redistributed to UW colleagues through Cooperative Extension processes.

 Q: When will it be determined how many offices will be needed to house new Cooperative Extension staff?

A: Please work directly with your Regional Director and Assistant Dean.

Q: If there is a need to go external with the AED hiring process, what will this do to the timeline?

A: While we are hoping that all AED positions will be filled through internal hiring, if this is not possible, the external hiring process will be staged right after the internal process ends. There will be a coverage strategy for this process.

April 28, 2017

Q: Will county-funded employees doing Extension work be eligible to apply for the positions (as they are released) as an internal candidate?

A: Those who are appointed and payrolled through UW Cooperative Extension will qualify as internal candidates (regardless of the funding source for their salary). County appointed and payrolled employees will not be considered to be internal candidates. A major reason for this is that the UW budget reductions only apply to positions funded by Cooperative Extension and, if layoffs become necessary, only Cooperative Extension employees would be subject to any potential layoff.

Q: Will counties be able to invest in 100% county-funded positions as in the current model? How will these fit into the new organizational structure?

A: Currently, there are counties funding 100% of the salaries of Cooperative Extension employees through contracts. We expect this practice to continue. These county-funded Extension employees would receive travel and other work-related expenses paid through Cooperative Extension and covered through the county contract agreement. These employees will report to their Area Extension Director. If a county wishes to fund and employ a staff member doing Extension-related work, that person would be a county employee and budgeted through the county accordingly. Each county would make a determination about appropriate supervisors for those in county positions. Area Extension Directors would be one supervisory option that the county could pursue through an agreement with Cooperative Extension.

Q: Who can county-funded employees ask questions of during this process?

A: County-based employees can ask questions of the Assistant Dean representing that area (see the map: https://blogs.ces.uwex.edu/nextgeneration/project-background/#map). Matt Hanson represents the south and Dave Berard represents the north.

Q: Will probationary faculty who move to academic staff positions maintain their current salary?

A: As Dean Karl Martin said in the recent probationary faculty Wisline, probationary faculty who move to academic staff positions will retain their current salary. At that point, Academic Staff personnel guidelines will apply to their appointments, including the policies for academic staff promotion (link requires Cooperative Extension employee log-in).

Q: What can we expect to stay the same in the new structure and staffing model for county Extension offices in the future?

A: Cooperative Extension will maintain county extension offices with support staff and county support in every county that wants to partner with Extension. We recognize the value in keeping a local presence in every county and keeping the shortest distance possible between the people of Wisconsin and the Extension staff delivering programming to them. We will also work with counties to not significantly increase fiscal contributions during the transition period. Other structural and staffing features that will look familiar include:

  • County offices will be staffed with educators who serve individual counties or with educators who may be shared across counties, depending on the needs of the counties involved.
  • UW Cooperative Extension Area Extension Directors will work with individual counties to determine county priorities and develop annual contracts.
  • Continue with our major programming in the areas of agriculture, families, community development youth and natural resources.

Q: How will the staffing and structure for county Extension offices change in the future?

A: The most significant changes at the county level will take place on or before January 1st, 2018. Some of the main changes include:

  • County-based Educator positions will convert from tenure-track faculty positions in the current model to academic staff positions over time as tenured faculty retire, transfer or leave UW Cooperative Extension. This is not a guarantee that all county-based personnel will remain the same in each county – current county faculty may decide to take new positions within Cooperative Extension.
  • Cooperative Extension will no longer have 4 regions or Regional Directors, but will be divided into 2 zones (north and south) with each being overseen by an Assistant Dean (Matt Hanson in the south and Dave Berard in the north).
  • Cooperative Extension will no longer have County Department Heads, but will instead have 22 Area Extension Directors.
  • Area Extension Director’s responsibility will be largely administration, including maintaining county partnerships and developing annual work plans and contracts, determining identified priorities and staffing levels, and securing new funding and partnerships to ensure timely and relevant programming.
  • Cooperative Extension will have new positions called State Specialists (tenure-track faculty) and Outreach Programmer positions (academic staff) who will serve Areas, Regions, or Statewide. These positions, located across the state or in county offices, will focus on program development, research, scholarship, publishing, and securing extramural funding, and will serve a geography larger than a single county (e.g., an area or the entire state). We expect current educators to fill these new positions.

April 12, 2017

Questions and Answers Regarding Probationary Faculty During the nEXT Generation Process in Cooperative Extension. You can listen to the recording of the Wisline here

Q: Is the process of tenure for probationary faculty closing on December 31, 2017?

A: The process of tenure will continue for those probationary faculty who are in faculty-track positions in the new model. The projected timeline is to have the new model in place by the end of the calendar year – so for now we are projecting the new model will be implemented by January 1st, 2018.

Q: What point in the tenure application does a person need to be at to meet the fall submission deadlines?

A: The portfolios need to be based on 4 years of work at UW Extension; thereafter fore, a probationary faculty member would need to have completed their 4th year of service prior to submission.

Q: Does my document have to be submitted, be approved by SRP, FTAC, Dean by the December 31st deadline?

A: Yes, the December 31 deadline is the projected deadline. UC has requested there be two opportunities for faculty to complete the tenure process through review by SPR and FTAC and submission to the Dean by December 31.

Q: Does tenure need to be granted by June 30, 2018, or just submission of the portfolio?

A: Tenure is effective at the beginning of the fiscal year (July 1st) for everyone who is granted tenure during the fiscal year. That will include those who go through tenure in the fall, winter, or in spring. Portfolio submission needs to take place much earlier so it can go through the process of SRP, FTAC, Dean review and Chancellor approval, and then The Board of Regents needs to sign off on it as well.

Q: The statement in the Dean’s email seems contradictory when you talk about dependency on the hiring process. Faculty want a concrete answer as to when they can apply by.

“The tenure process for probationary faculty will proceed as usual from July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018, for those who are eligible. Eligible probationary faculty include those who have completed their 4th year of service (per Articles of Faculty Governance Appendix IIC Part I – http://www.uwex.edu/secretary/documents/Appendix-IIC.pdf). Eligible probationary faculty may submit a tenure portfolio per normal processes and timelines for Fall 2017; however, depending upon the completion of the hiring process for the nEXT Generation model, the late Fall 2017 – Spring 2018 submission dates might only apply to those probationary faculty hired into faculty positions in the nEXT Generation model and who are eligible to go up for tenure by timelines established in current policy (as referenced above).”

A: This frustration is understandable, and this statement is contradictory. However, the intention here is to give a realistic sense of what to expect. If there is any ambiguity in status of a current probationary faculty member’s tenure eligibility concurrent with the hiring process for the nEXT Generation model, the faculty member will be allowed to apply for tenure. In other words, if hiring is not complete and notices of non-renewal have not been given, but a current probationary faculty member is eligible to submit a tenure portfolio, he/she will not be prevented from submitting.

Q: Rumor is one, two, three year reviews have been cancelled. What advice is being given?

A: It is expected that reviews will continue as planned.

Q: There are a few faculty members who are Instructors who were planning on applying for a promotion (from Instructor to Assistant Professor without tenure) in 2018. If they need to reapply for their positions or apply for a different position, will the work they have completed prior to the position change count towards a promotion? Or, if meritorious, could they apply for this promotion early?

A: All work as a probationary faculty member will count toward promotion from Instructor to Assistant Professor. We will not allow promotions to be awarded early, but that time would factor into subsequent promotions.

Q: In recent years, promotion has been the only opportunity we get for a salary increase. With limited promotion opportunities for probationary faculty this year, how do you see this being handled to retain early career Extension professionals that are just shy of rank change? Will individuals at the instructor level that planned to submit for rank change to Assistant Professor this fall be able to secure this rank change?

A: Yes, if you are eligible for a rank change this fall we will accept the application for review and a decision.

Q: Will the salary ranges in the new positions give an opportunity for a salary increase for those of us that were not given the opportunity to submit for a rank change?

A: Your accomplishments and duration of time in your current position would be credited if you are hired into a faculty position in the new model or if you are hired into an academic staff position in the new model for promotion decisions.

Q: What happens to the time someone has accumulated toward tenure if they apply for a new tenure track faculty position. Does the time clock reset or does the accumulated time carry forward? That is, would someone’s accumulated 2 or 3 years be carried forward or reset to 0. Moving from one probationary faculty position to another probationary faculty position – does an individual’s time line start over?

A: It depends on the new position, past position and each individual situation. Time clocks would not start over, but there may be situations where it may be beneficial to give partial credit, based on individual circumstances. Probationary faculty that transfer from one institution to another negotiate time to tenure with a new appointment; and, depending on their new role and previous role, they may want credit for all or only some of their tenure clock timeline from the institution.

Q: When will notices be given to those probationary faculty who are not hired into faculty positions in the new model and have not been granted tenure?

A: We anticipate that notices will be given once the hiring process is complete for the new model, so at the end of the calendar year. Notice Periods Apply: UWEX Faculty Policies 3.10: “This written notice shall be given to the faculty member in advance of the expiration of his/her appointment, as follows:

  1. At least three months before the end of the appointment during the first twelve months of faculty service;
  2. At least six months before the end of the appointment during the next twelve months of faculty service;
  3. At least twelve months before the expiration of an appointment after more than 24 months of faculty service.”

3.11 Absence of proper notification. If proper notice is not given in accordance with Chapter UWEX 3.10, the aggrieved faculty member shall be entitled to a one-year terminal appointment.

Q: Will new model include part-time positions?

A: We will work with individuals on case-by-case basis.

Q: When hiring for the new academic staff positions, will an internal hiring process occur first? Will those staff in Interim positions be able to apply for the internal search?

A: Yes, we will conduct an internal search to fill the new academic staff positions before we open these positions up to external candidates. Those who are in interim positions will not be able to apply to positions opened up for an internal search only, but will be encouraged to apply for those positions opened to all internal/external candidates.

Q: There has been mention that the criteria for tenure (A. Evidence of successful scholarship; B. Evidence of continuing professional development; C. Evidence of leadership in program development; D. Evidence of effective working relationships with colleagues and clientele; E. Contributions to the profession, department, and university; and F. Probability of positive future contributions to the profession, department, and university.) will not change but the standards for meeting those criteria will be increased?  Who will be involved in deciding the standards, who will they be communicated, how will they be applied to someone who has three years of current work in a faculty position be evaluated?

A: Decisions about standards will be communicated through governance and the academic departments. The level of governance involvement in the articulation of the standards will depend to what extent the higher standards reflect a change in criteria.

Q: How many faculty positions will be included in the new model or if not known at this point, when will we know?

A: The number of faculty positions as not yet been determined. Proposed faculty positions are still being planned as part of the nEXT Generation design.

Q: Will faculty be required to take a faculty position or will they be allowed to choose a faculty or academic staff position, potentially opening up faculty positions for probationary faculty and academic staff wishing to assume the responsibilities of a faculty position? Will tenured faculty need to apply for their positions, or other faculty positions in the new model?

A: We are still working through the hiring process, but our goal is to have the option for faculty to take on academic staff positions if the situation is a good fit.

Q: What will the hiring process look like for the new model? Tenured faculty have been promised they would have a position. When do probationary faculty and academic staff get to apply for jobs?  Is there a distinction in the time when probationary faculty and academic staff can apply or will it be at the same time? How does UPG 7 fit into this process?

A: We are working on the details of the hiring process. More solid answers will be given once specifics of the nEXT Gen model become more concrete.

Q: Going from a faculty position to an academic staff this is seen as a demotion when applying for jobs in other states – not a question but a comment. Reactions?

A: All positions in our organization are critical for us to function at a high level. We have academic staff, university staff, and faculty who are doing great work! This is an individual choice.

Q: If probationary faculty members are not successful with tenure promotion this fall, does that eliminate their opportunity for internal reassignment to a non-faculty position? Does it affect 4th, 5th or 6th year probationary faculty differently?  

A: We will have more information on this question after we fully consult with our HR department and hiring policies.

Q: If faculty members apply for positions in different areas, will relocation expenses be covered?

A: Cooperative Extension’s policies include support for relocation expenses. Reimbursement for relocation expenses will be based on specific situations.

Q: What happens to the retirement funds we have invested if a probationary faculty member is not hired into the nEXT Generation model and given notice of non-renewal?

A: All benefits would follow the standard process for separation, which can vary a great deal based on individual situations. Please see additional benefits information on our website.

February 23, 2017

Q: My responses to the February Feedback questions exceed the 500 character limit, can I still submit these?

A: Yes. Please email your responses (listed under the questions) to nextgencommunications@ces.uwex.edu and we will incorporate them into our synthesis of the results.

February 17, 2017

Q: When will employees have detailed information on their employment contracts? There are a number of colleagues with contracts that expire on June 30.

A: It is too early in the process to be able to provide detailed information on employment contracts. It will be important to have recommendations related to academic disciplines and program content, in addition to finalizing recommendations related to Cooperative Extension’s geographic structure. The project goal is to finalize options this spring and begin implementation no later than July 1, 2017.

Q: How can I provide feedback if I do not have internet access?

A: We hope as many people as possible will complete the online feedback survey, but for those without internet or e-mail access, you can fax answers to the survey questions in the linked summary by sending a fax to “nEXT Generation Project Communications” at 608-265-4545.

Q: What role would counties play in hiring county-based staff?

A: The MOUs described in the recommendations would outline roles and responsibilities for both counties and Cooperative Extension related to processes including hiring, and other aspects including program offerings. Specifically, Area Extension Directors would work with their counties to fill open positions. Cooperative Extension has worked in partnership with counties to fill positions and we remain committed to that.

Q: There are faculty who have not yet gone up for tenure. What is the status of pre-tenure tenure-track faculty?

A:  It is too early to be able to fully describe the options available to tenure-track faculty who have not yet been considered for tenure. We plan to make an announcement in the coming weeks. For faculty who have already attained tenure, Cooperative Extension is not declaring a fiscal emergency nor considering the reorganization a formal program discontinuation, which are the two conditions that would allow for terminating tenured faculty positions.

Q: What role do county support staff play within these recommendations?

A: There are two recommendations most relevant to county-support staff: “Maintaining an Extension Office in Every County” and “Establishing New Agreements Between Counties and Cooperative Extension.” The recommendation to maintain an office in every county assumes counties would provide support for Cooperative Extension personnel. Those specific details on support, office space and other county contributions would be negotiated between each county and Cooperative Extension through an MOU and an annual contract.

Q: Within these recommendations, what program responsibilities will Area Extension Directors have?

A:  While it is too early in the process to determine a specific position description for the Area Extension Directors, as full-time administrators, people in these positions would play a coordination role relative to programs. Working with both county governments and locally-based Cooperative Extension staff, the recommendation is that Area Extension Directors would coordinate the program needs in order to include them within the MOUs and annual contracts. County officials and local Cooperative Extension staff will continue to play critical roles in setting program priorities.

Q: When will the nEXT Generation support groups be launched?

A: The sponsors are determining when and how to engage the support work groups after operational assessments conclude in April. Following the completion of the HR assessment, the sponsors determined that the Human resources and Professional & organizational development groups would not be convened.

Q: Under this recommendation, would the flat fee paid by counties for services be equivalent to the salary of Cooperative Extension employees?

A: No, while the recommendation would allow counties to invest in services at a set level determined by the type of programming they want to host in their county, those county fees would not dictate employee salaries. These locally-based Cooperative Extension positions would be part of the university titling system and allow for progression within those titles. Under this recommendation, Cooperative Extension would provide promotions and other salary increases, even though the county’s rate would be held constant within that contract year.

Q: I’ve heard rumors that there is a target number of faculty that Cooperative Extension is trying to achieve in the reorganization.  Is that true?

A: No, it is too early to answer this question. We have not identified any target numbers at this time.

Q: Will all positions need to reapply for their jobs as a part of the reorganization process?

A: No. There may be lateral transfers or other job changes that will not require a competitive posting. We anticipate that newly created positions (such as the Area Extension Director) will require applications and interviews. Job openings for these new positions will first be posted for internal applicants. If we are unable to fill the positions internally, only then will they be released to external applicants.

Q: Will county-based faculty take pay cuts if they move into the new educator roles?

A: No. We do anticipate that some current county-based faculty will remain in their county-based role as we move through the reorganization process. We are committed to maintaining employee’s base salaries.

February 10, 2017

Q: Is this the complete set of recommendations for the future of Cooperative Extension?

A: No, the complete recommendations will be released in April. These six recommendations are specifically related to geographic structures, especially counties. Upcoming recommendations will cover program content and academic disciplines, as well as partnerships with tribes, UW campuses and other organizations.

Q: Is the work of earlier nEXT Generation project work groups included in these recommendations?

A: Yes, in developing these recommendations, the Integration Work Group drew from the recommendations made by the organizational structure work groups, including Organizational Structure, County and Tribal Organizational Structure and Statewide Organizational Structure.

Q: Is “name” a required response on the feedback survey?

A: While we appreciate knowing who we are hearing from, “name” is not a required field on the survey. In order to provide the best information to the Integration Work Group and Sponsors when we report survey results, the survey requires people to provide information on their relationship to Cooperative Extension (County partner, Cooperative Extension Employee, Campus partners, Tribal nation partner, Other).

Q: My county government leaders want to begin working on budgets. When will information on costs for a new model be available?

A: Currently, we are collecting feedback on recommendations related to our geographic structure. The Integration Work Group will use this feedback to develop full options that will be shared for comment in April. Our goal is to finalize options this spring and begin implementation no later than July 1, 2017. We plan to provide counties with information needed to do their budget planning later this spring.

Q: Why is there an educational role in the recommendations for people with a high school diploma as a qualification?

A: The Cooperative Extension Food WIse program already includes staff with high school diploma’s as peer educators. Programs like Food WIse and others are designed in a manner that recognizes educational delivery by members of the peer group provides the highest learning impact to the audience.

Q: I don’t see any information about academic disciplines or subject matter content. Where can I find that information?

A: The February 9 recommendations are focused on geographic aspects of our program delivery. Future recommendations will provide details on academic disciplines and program content. We understand these recommendations are critical to our partners, faculty, and staff and we appreciate your patience. The Integration Work Group is working hard to be intentional, thorough, and timely in providing these recommendations. Project e-mails and the website will contain this information when it becomes available in the coming weeks.

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