John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 9, 2019
For three weeks now, the Structured for Success proposal has been top of mind for many of us in ISU Extension and Outreach. During our first three area-wide meetings, we’ve had good discussions about proposed Models 1 and 2. We’ll be discussing the proposal at the remaining area-wide meetings as well, on Sept. 10 and 20.
In addition, many extension staff and council members have been using our new virtual suggestion box to share their perspectives on the proposed models. I am reading every comment submitted. Some people have offered ideas for alternative models. Some are asking questions, and Andrea Nelson and I are providing answers in FAQ documents. Others have been expressing their worries or concerns, which may not have an “answer.”
A few individuals were upset by the way the proposal was announced, and we sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. We announced the proposal during a webinar because it seemed to be a good way to provide the information to everyone at the same time.
Some people have been voicing concerns about the role of regional directors in the proposed models and how they will be assigned to the new regions. Others wonder whether staff who will be transitioning to a different role – in a region or in a county – will have the necessary skills for the new role. They’re anxious about degree requirements for the career path from one role to another. Some people are worried about what the proposal means for their council and their county budget. Others are concerned about where the final regional borders will be drawn and how the new regions will affect existing partnerships across county lines.
The first three FAQ documents address questions the Structured for Success Committee had anticipated, as well as the questions we received during the webinar and in the first few days afterward. As we compare those FAQs with the comments continuing to come in via the virtual suggestion box, we are seeing some common themes in the questions that are being asked and some common confusion about what the committee envisioned for the proposal. We are putting together a new FAQ to address these themes and, we hope, lessen the confusion. It will be added to the Structured for Success feedback page (for council access) and to MyExtension (for staff) by the end of this week.
I will be holding virtual listening sessions by Adobe Connect at the following dates and times:
- Wednesday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m.
- Thursday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m.
- Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m.
- Thursday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.
- Friday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m.
Please remember that the Structured for Success Committee reviewed information collected during the 2018 Listening Sessions, gained from the Internal Communications Task Force Report, and gathered from our counties and from other states in the north central region. After completing this review, the committee determined that to be successful, ISU Extension and Outreach’s organizational structure must enable us to:
- effectively educate and serve Iowans with resources from Iowa State;
- increase focus on engagement, programming, and partnership development;
- recruit and retain talented, professional, and passionate staff;
- reduce the burden on councils related to human resources, finance, and program selection; and
- improve communication and accountability within our system.
These are the goals for a renewed partnership between Iowa State University and county extension councils. You may continue to provide feedback until Oct. 11 through the virtual suggestion box or by phone or email to any member of the Structured for Success committee. Then we’ll review the feedback and revise the proposal as needed. Our target date for sharing the final version is Oct. 21.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the Structured for Success proposal and thank you for all you do for ISU Extension and Outreach.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach