I am pleased to announce that the Michigan State University (MSU) Fall Extension Conference (FEC) registration is open. The theme of the conference is Strengthening Our Focus: Living the Brand. I want to take a moment to encourage you to look over the outstanding content of the conference and make arrangements to join us. In an organization as large as ours, it is important that we have a chance to come together once a year to engage with each other, collaborate, grow and celebrate who we are and what we do.
The FEC is put together by a committee made up of your peers, with colleagues who represent our organization geographically and by type of Extension position. We set up the committee two years ago to make sure we created a conference that serves everyone.
With a focus on “Living the Brand: Strengthening Our Focus,” the FEC planning committee has built upon the success of last year’s conference and made some additional changes. Most noticeably, a reimagined Extension Celebration will take the place of the traditional Tuesday evening banquet. Please plan to join us for the evening as we celebrate our Key Partners and Friends of Extension, and enjoy a customized one-of-a-kind performance of the Wharton Center workshop piece “Temple,” which showcases the life of the famous Temple Grandin. Attendance at the Extension Celebration is part of your registration and there is no additional cost to participate, although we do ask that you RSVP to ensure accurate meal counts.
Some additional highlights that I hope will entice your interest:
- MSU athletic director Mark Hollis as key speaker
- A special guest appearance by Sparty
- Workshops on the move and sessions to help with core competencies: Marketing and Quality Service, and Program Implementation and Delivery
- A new workshop on the move designed for field and campus support staff
- Multiple opportunities to learn about colleagues across the state – from videos to photo slide presentations
- A chance to win a fantastic array of prizes by using the passport process
- Q&A with Mark Burnham, MSU vice president for government affairs, and Heather Swain from Communication and Brand Strategy
With all the hard work and collaboration of the FEC planning committee and the committed events management staff, I think this will be the best FEC yet!
Make sure you register early and book your rooms before the spaces fill. Go to http://fec.msue.msu.edu/ to register, book rooms and find out more information about the conference.
I’m still adjusting to the notion of writing articles with this headline in June rather than in September or October. For the second year in a row, the Michigan Legislature has completed the appropriations process for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2012, by the first week of June. What a welcome change this has been!
And unlike last year’s budget, in which we received a 15-percent reduction in funding, this time we’re targeted to receive a 3-percent budget increase in state funding. The size of the increase is welcome, but even more important is that it’s an INCREASE and not a DECREASE. It’s been a few years since we’ve been able to say that.
The Conference Committee for the Omnibus Education Budget completed negotiations on the higher education portion of the budget last Thursday evening (May 31), and the House of Representatives quickly approved the compromise on June 1. The Michigan Senate provided their approval on Tuesday morning, June 5. So now all that remains is for the governor to sign the legislation, and then we will know for certain that our funding for next year will grow by 3 percent. There are some requirements in the legislation that call for us to report on outputs and impacts of our programs, which our new reporting system should help us to fulfill. This is right in line with our goal of providing greater accountability through our redesign process. And the increase is primarily targeted at development of a strategic initiative on growing food and agriculture sectors in the state’s economy, something that cuts across all four of our program institutes.
As is always the case with a process like this, many people deserve credit and thanks for their roles in achieving this outcome. Within Michigan State University, many of you and other colleagues have helped to tell our story effectively to legislators. I’d like to highlight the role of Dr. Mike Kovacic, director of stakeholder relations for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, for his leadership in working with the MSU Governmental Affairs office and with legislative leaders and staff to address the concerns and questions that were raised throughout the process and to keep us all focused on the outcome we achieved. Given that we began the process with an Executive Budget proposal that had no increase for MSU Extension and AgBioResearch, coming out with a 3-percent increase is an outstanding achievement. Mike was our coach and captain in the campaign that produced this outcome. MSU vice president for governmental affairs Mark Burnham and his colleagues David Bertram and Monique Field also provided great assistance and guidance.
Many legislators also deserve credit for their roles in this process. We especially benefited from Senators Tonya Schuitmaker, Howard Walker, Darwin Booher, Roger Kahn and John Moolenaar, and Representatives Chuck Moss, Al Pscholka and Amanda Price. They and other legislators deserve thanks and appreciation from our stakeholders who spoke out in support of our programs.