Sunday, June 14, 2015

They came from across the globe

This was a very special commencement weekend, as UC Santa Cruz graduated its 50th alumni class. Commencement is one of my favorite times every year, because it reminds us of why we are here. It reminds us why we do the work, why we put in the long hours, and why we deal with the thousands of tough moments and tough choices that arise every year.


The culmination of so many sacrifices

As I sat on stage today, I looked out at the hundreds of faces full of pride and excitement as they came to support their graduates. Families and friends came from across the country, and in many cases across the globe, to descend upon this little spot in the Monterey Bay. They brought noisemakers and posters and big smiles. But most importantly, they brought with them a unique story. Their stories speak of countless sacrifices and struggles. Their stories speak of love for their graduates. As the graduates walked across the stage and their names were read, many also included words of thanks for these family members and friends. There were thanks given to those in attendance and thanks given to family members who had passed away before this moment arrived.  These graduates are full of gratitude and they recognize that this moment was not given, rather it was earned.

Hundreds of proud families and friends
It can be bleak to read or watch the news these days. It can leave you with a feeling of unease about our world. However, one need only spend a few moments at one of our commencements to be filled with hope and optimism about our shared future. These students leave here equipped with the skills needed to ask the tough questions and solve the world's greatest challenges. They leave here with confidence in their abilities and gratitude for the tough lessons learned during their time at UCSC. They leave here having been taught the principles of community and why they are critical to our society. They leave here Banana Slugs.


The Principles of Community flew high over the
Commencement activities

I am grateful beyond words for the BAS team members who played a role in the commencement activities this weekend. You made a difference!

A slug I am,

Sarah

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Supporting a sustainable future

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, and is now an international event every April 22nd. Many celebrate an entire week of activities to highlight our critical and precious natural resources.  One of the things I love most about the UCSC mission and cultural values is the focus on sustainability. We all have a responsibility for stewardship of our natural resources. This value was at the forefront of the "In My Shoes" day I spent with the Sustainability Office.

An art installation in the Sustainability Office welcomes visitors.


Part of a larger system
The entire University of California system places a high priority on sustainability. There are systemwide goals articulated across several areas, including water, waste and carbon neutrality. As part of my day with the Sustainability Office, I participated in the systemwide sustainability officers call. It is crucial that our BAS team members engage with our colleagues across the system to find opportunities for partnership and vet ideas for how we can achieve our goals.

Students leading the way
Stewardship of the environment resonates very strongly with our students. During my time with the Sustainability Office, I helped some of our student workers table at McHenry Library. Tabling is one of the many mechanisms used to spread the word about the sustainability efforts at UCSC and connect with others who share a passion for the topic. We have many students who work in BAS across a wide swath of functions. These students serve in vital roles as we seek to connect with our student body and understand how we can support them.

Tabling with students who work in the Sustainability Office

Advancing green lab operations
The Sustainability Office performs Green Lab Certifications, and I participated in one during my day with the team. Labs are reviewed for implementation of sustainable practices and are given guidance about how they can improve in this area. The template developed by UCSC is also being used elsewhere in the UC system as an effective tool to advance these efforts at other campuses. In addition to lab reviews, the Sustainability Office also conducts Green Office certifications. I have had my office certified, and I have articulated a goal that all BAS units go through the certification process as well.  You can learn more at http://sustainability.ucsc.edu/get-involved/student-projects/greenoffices/.

Conducting a Green Lab certification
I really enjoyed my time with the sustainability team, and I appreciate all that they do to advance this critical aspect of campus life. To learn more about the Sustainability Office, check out their website at http://sustainability.ucsc.edu/. You also can subscribe to their newsletter at at http://sustainability.ucsc.edu/news-events/newsletters/.

A Slug I am,
Sarah

Friday, March 6, 2015

Personal wellness - a critical ingredient to team optimization

Personal wellness is critical for optimizing a team. Everyone is faced with a multitude of tasks, responsibilities and demands. In order to make it through and "survive", people sometimes put their own personal well-being on the back burner. This practice, however, has the reverse effect and slows our ability to respond, decreases our productivity and lessens our level of engagement. We must prioritize our personal wellness in a way that not only allows us to survive....but to thrive!

In their 2009 book The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World authors Heifetz, Linsky and Grashow write:


"Thriving is much more than survival; thriving means growing and prospering in new and challenging environments. To thrive you need resilience (shock absorbers to remain steady over the bumps of the journey), robust strength (health and stamina), and renewal. Renewal is the active process of removing the plaque of tough experience and scars from the journey and returning to the core of your values and being. Renewal requires transformation of the heart and guts as well as the head."

It does not matter what role you play on our BAS team or where you physically work. Each of us can incorporate personal wellness into our day. Whether it is taking a five minute walk around your building, doing a brief meditation, doing a quick stretch or simply taking a deep breath, finding ways to balance ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically makes a world of difference. It enhances our decision making and allows us to be more present.

One great program offered on our campus is the Cruz Fit program
. This is my second year participating, and I am a proud member of the "Killa Watts" team. Last week we decided to meet up with the "0-Emission Fitness Commission" team (can you tell I am doing the Cruz Fit program with several team members who work in the energy department) for a lunchtime hike. It was a perfect way to get fresh air and build relationships with my BAS team mates. We all headed back to our work place feeling energized and ready to tackle the afternoon challenges.

Our Cruz Fit teams out on a lunchtime hike

I encourage each of us to support our team mates as they incorporate personal wellness into their day. I hope every BAS supervisor and department manager will model these values for team members in their units.

A slug I am,
Sarah

Friday, January 23, 2015

Keeping things moving

The first time I drove onto the UCSC campus (before I ever considered becoming a slug) I encountered an interesting sight. There were teams of students at various intersections directing traffic. At the time I thought it was such a neat idea to engage students in that way. It seemed like a win-win, with traffic flowing easier and students being able to play a critical role. I had no idea at the time, that nearly three years later I would be wearing a yellow vest and reflective gloves as I worked traffic control at the same spot. Below are some of the lessons learned from the "In My Shoes" day I spent with the Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) department.

Welcome to UCSC!: When you drive, bike or walk into the main campus entrance, you pass by a small red kiosk. This is where our TAPS team members are stationed to greet those who are picking up guest passes, sell passes for the day and provide a variety of other services. This kiosk also serves as a place where those who are coming to our campus for the first time approach to seek guidance. Even when the topic is not TAPS related, our team members in this kiosk serve as critical ambassadors. They might be the very first UCSC community member a guest engages with, they might be the first UCSC community member a prospective student speaks to, or they might be the first UCSC community member an alum who is returning to campus for the first time in 50 years encounters. Even when we are approached by individuals who are seeking services or have questions that are outside of our purview, it is vital that we greet them with a smile and direct them to where they need to go. Many people ask me why I always wear my UCSC name tag. The answer is simple. I want to ensure I am viewed as a resource for people...an ambassador of UCSC. I have had students, visitors and alumni stop me on campus to ask a question or seek directions because they see my name tag. EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of the BAS team is an ambassador of UCSC.

The student workers who serve in the kiosk serve
as critical ambassadors

Understanding that others have a different perspective: Part of my day with TAPS involved riding along with the Disability Van Service. This van serves students, faculty, staff and visitors who have permanent or temporary mobility impairments. Driving in the van gives you a new perspective on what life is like for those who require van services. We often take for granted our ability to get where we need to go with ease. That is not true for many in our community. We all need to find ways to understand the perspectives of others. Building mutual empathy across our community can be one of our most powerful tools for supporting the campus mission and advancing the Principles of Community.


The Disability Services Van is a welcomed site for those
who need some extra support getting around campus

Partnering to meet student needs: As student needs and technologies advance, we must find new ways to partner with colleagues across the campus. One of the great initiatives taking place in TAPS is a program being developed that enables students to track buses and anticipate arrival times. TAPS team members are working with colleagues in the Baskin School of Engineering to develop the program. It is a great example of using the subject matter expertise of our own community members to solve problems and enhance our ability to meet student needs. Every BAS unit should be actively seeking out partners to help us achieve our division mission.


Tracking the arrival times of the next available bus will
assist in supporting student needs

Advancing our campus values: One of the things that drew me to UCSC was the articulated campus value system. Stewardship of the environment was one such value that aligned with my personal ethos. TAPS works to support several operational initiatives that advance environmental stewardship and personal well-being. The campus recently received a wonderful accolade when it was named a silver-level bicycle-friendly university by the League of American Bicyclists. BAS works daily to advance several campus values, and we should derive great pride from making a difference in our community.


Being a bike-friendly campus advances environmental
stewardship and personal well-being

Directing the work: Several years ago, a student-led traffic direction program was launched. Students direct traffic at critical intersections during class changes. This has resulted in a tangible decline in the drive time across campus and has increased pedestrian safety. I had the opportunity to work with this team during my day with TAPS. Directing traffic is quite an orchestrated event. There are team members stationed at each crosswalk and a lead team member stationed in the center of the intersection. The lead team member is equipped with a whistle and that person controls the activities of all others directing traffic. The center lead must juggle several things simultaneously and monitor how many cars are waiting, if there are buses in the flow that need to drop-off/pick-up, and a variety of other factors. It is a great metaphor for our BAS work. There are requests, needs, problems and issues coming at us every day. Some we can control and many we can't. We are constantly monitoring and evaluating what the priority is at any one point in time. We must equip all BAS team members with the tools needed to make such decisions and the culture needed to support them in making those tough calls. In the end, it leads to a safer and more effective work flow.


Students directing traffic keep our campus safer and
things flowing smoothly

I really enjoyed my day with TAPS. I am grateful for the many ways they support the UCSC mission and ensure that we keep things moving on campus.

A slug I am,
Sarah 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

To serve and protect

When people are faced with a crisis or emergency, often times the voice on the other end of a 9-1-1 call can be their only hope that things will be okay. During my first week as VCBAS at UCSC, I toured the Police Department and met our team members who serve in that unit. Whether it was the dispatchers who are that voice on the other end of a call or our parking enforcement team or our sworn police officers, each member of the department plays a critical role in providing a safe campus community. During the "In My Shoes" day with the department, I had the opportunity to delve even deeper into the operations of the unit. Below are some lessons that I took away from the day and that apply to all BAS units.

Our Police department is located by the main entrance of the campus

Defusing and de-escalating challenging situations: During my time with the PD, I did a couple of mock exercises to understand the various ways that our officers work to diffuse situations. One exercise involved a mock traffic stop, and I was charged with de-escalating the situation to ensure no one was harmed. While challenging situations in most of our BAS units don't involve physical danger, the need to diffuse situations occurs daily. The ability to stay calm and think through the next logical step is a skill we need to emphasize throughout the division.

Working to de-escalate a challenging traffic stop

When we feel the need to explain...listen: Our work in BAS often involves dealing with colleagues and clients when they are upset or at low points. One such example is when people get parking tickets. During my time with the Police Department, I worked the main service window to learn about the various ways we engage with community members. During the time I was there, a student came to the window very upset about a parking ticket they received. Those working the desk listened patiently and talked through the situation with the student. By the time she left, the student was calm and grateful for the kindness she had encountered. It is vital that we listen when our colleagues and clients are stressed about various BAS operations. As a co-worker at my last campus used to say, "when we feel the need to explain.....listen". Listening can be our best tool.

The chain of custody:  Part of my day with the Police involved working in the evidence room. One of the most critical values governing evidence work is maintaining the "chain of custody". Evidence is critical as our officers work investigations. If the chain of custody is broken, it can jeopardize the work of others who need that evidence later in a process. The concept of chain of evidence applies to our work across BAS. Our work is intricately intertwined with the work of others. If any single person in the chain of a process or procedure does not accurately perform their task, then it can jeopardize the work of others who have roles later in that process. We are part of a larger chain.

Maintaining the chain of custody when handling evidence is crucial

Protocols that serve a purpose:  There are countless protocols in police work and straying from them can result in serious harm to others. These protocols are value-added in that they enhance the safety and effectiveness of police work. Across BAS, it is vital that we continually review our protocols. Each step should be value-added. If it does not serve a purpose, then it should be eliminated. In addition, each step should be documented to ensure our colleagues know what our protocols are. Finally, each step needs to be reinforced through training to ensure our protocols are applied consistently.

During my day with the police department, I learned about several protocols

I am so grateful to my team mates in the Police Department who worked with me during the In My Shoes day. These colleagues work every day to ensure our campus is safe, and it is an honor to work with them.

A slug I am,
Sarah

Books and t-shirts and passports....oh my

When I was in college, the bookstore was brimming with textbooks. There was no "online shopping" or "e-books" back in those days. I have so many fond memories of perusing the aisles of books and getting the texts that would be used during the quarter. I also would buy some piece of swag, whether it be a new t-shirt or a key chain with my sorority letters. While times have changed and bookstores are not exactly like they were when I was in college, they still are a place where students come to shop for supplies, families come to get a piece of swag and faculty-authored books are displayed to highlight the contributions our campus has made across a variety of fields. During the "In My Shoes" day at the Bay Tree Bookstore a got to work across a variety of units. Below are some lessons I gleaned that apply to all units within the BAS division.

Quality customer service is critical for a successful bookstore operation

A single spot - multiple needs: We live in a fast-changing world and student needs are continually evolving.  Our units within BAS must keep abreast of the multiple and evolving needs of our university community. During my time at the bookstore students did everything from purchasing scantron sheets for tests to applying for passports for study abroad to getting their campus id cards made. While varied, each of these needs was critical to the student experience.

Sharon is usually on the other end of the camera taking our ID photos
Students as team members: The bookstore employs many students in a variety of capacities. As I met them and learned about what they did, I heard about the many accomplishments of our bookstore student worker alums. As they have entered graduate school and the workforce, they apply the lessons learned from their time working at the bookstore. We employ students across many BAS units, and I hope we will continue to expand such opportunities across the division.

Student workers gain many applicable skills during their bookstore tenures

The power of team: When you enter the bookstore, there is a small area on the right that is transformed throughout the year to highlight the most critical product needs. The day I was at the bookstore, we were changing the space from dorm supplies to Fiat Slug gear. By looking at the amount of work to be done, you would think it would have taken hours. However, as my grandmother would always say, "many hands make light work". We turned the space around in no time. The amount of work to be done across our BAS units can seem overwhelming. However, when everyone rolls up their sleeves and works together, regardless of their role, we can accomplish anything.

Clearing out dorm goods

The newly stocked Fiat Slug gear
Celebrating our own: One of my favorite aspects of the bookstore is the fact that they display works done by our own faculty. Our faculty not only share their knowledge in the classroom and in the lab, but they also are thought leaders in their fields. They publish works on a countless array of topics, and I love that we display their books at Bay Tree. I hope we will continue to find ways that the BAS division can highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of our faculty, students, staff, and alums.

I am grateful to everyone who made my Bay Tree "In My Shoes" experience such a rich one. Whether it was the team members who order text books, those who work the Customer Service area and check out lanes, those who work in the accounting department, those who process identification cards, or those who put out the inventory, everyone showed the same desire to support the UCSC mission.

A slug I am,
Sarah

Monday, January 12, 2015

BAS - A Gateway as Opposed to a Gatekeeper

The BAS mission statement says our division exists to advance education, exploration and engagement. This statement reflects the notion that our division is not the end of the campus mission but rather it is part of the means. We serve a campus mission that provides a transformational experience for students who graduate and move on to solve the world's greatest challenges. We serve a campus mission that not only teaches the current body of world knowledge but actively researches and advances this body of knowledge.

I was at a meeting a few months ago in Santa Barbara and one of the speakers said that they wanted their campus operations to be "a gateway as opposed to a gatekeeper". I thought this a wonderful statement that is relevant to our BAS division. We must ensure we are a gateway and not a gatekeeper for advancing the campus mission. We act as a gateway in numerous areas of UCSC life. The programs offered in our residence halls serve as a gateway to advancing student development. The processes we manage serve as a gateway for researches to procure the goods needed to engage in world changing research. The grounds we maintain serve as a gateway for the campus community to come together and build relationships. The list goes on and on.

As BAS launches its new strategic plan and works to advance education, exploration and engagement let us all work every day to be a gateway to something greater than ourselves.

A slug I am,
Sarah