IFAS Civil Rights Plan

                                                       
IFAS Civil Rights Plan 

Introduction   

While the University traces its roots to 1853 and the establishment of the state-funded East Florida Seminary, UF/IFAS traces its roots to the Morrill Act of 1862 which established the Land Grant university system. On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law what is generally referred to as the Land Grant Act. The new piece of legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont granted to each state 30,000 acres of public land for each Senator and Representative under apportionment based on the 1860 census. Proceeds from the sale of these lands were to be invested in a perpetual endowment fund which would provide support for colleges of agriculture and mechanical arts in each of the states. The establishment of Florida Agricultural College at Lake City in 1884 under the Morrill Act marked the beginning of what became the College of Agriculture of the University of Florida in 1906.

Florida’s governing body for higher education created the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in April 1964, by reorganizing UF's College of Agriculture, School of Forestry, Agricultural programs Experiment Station, and the Cooperative Extension Service into a single unit. Today, UF/IFAS includes the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, extension offices in each of the state's 67 counties and the Seminole Tribe, 14 research and education centers with a total of 19 locations throughout Florida, the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, the Center for Tropical Agriculture, portions of the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Florida Sea Grant Program and the International Program for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

A core value throughout UF/IFAS is a commitment to diversity and the protection and fostering of individual civil rights.  It is our hope that through the strategies in this plan and through the help and commitment of our faculty and staff, we will ensure a workplace in which all employees are treated with dignity and respect and an organization that delivers its mission fairly with integrity and equity.  

To this end, as an integral part of the University of Florida, UF/IFAS participates fully in the University’s Affirmative Action Plan; this is a separate, printed document and copies are available in the Vice President’s office, Deans’ offices, and the UF/IFAS Personnel Affairs office.  As an additional affirmation of its commitment to civil rights issues, UF/IFAS also adopts this Civil Rights Plan and will maintain it on the web site for easy employee access. 

Complaint process for employees 

The UF/IFAS Personnel Office serves as a resource center for employees with questions or who wish to file complaints regarding any employment issue.  The University offers several complaint options and each are described to employees upon request.  The Dean for Extension’s office also serves as a contact point for complaints.      

Profile   ( state level and county level) 

IFAS is a large organization.  Administratively, UF/IFAS comprises approximately one-third of the University.  June 2003 employment figures are in the following table:  

  State Faculty County Faculty (Paid by UF Only) Non-Temp Support Staff (TEAMS, USPS) Temp Support Staff (OPS)   TOTALS
WM 459 103 530 885 1977
WF 94 131 580 814 1619
HM 10 2 30 130 172
HF 4 3 46 121 174
BM 12 8 57 94 171
BF 6 13 86 99 204
AM 51 0 28 198 277
AF 9 1 20 130 160
OM 1 0 1 25 27
OF 0 0 1 23 24
TOTAL 646 261 1379 2519 4805

Faculty and support staff work in joint appointments in Teaching, Research, and Extension. 

 

Teaching (CALS)   

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) is the teaching branch of UF/IFAS.   CALS offers students a high-quality education that results in knowledge and skills for employment, productive citizenship, and life-long learning.  CALS is an educational leader in the areas of food, agriculture, natural resources, and life sciences as they relate to human resources, the environment, and communities. As a college known for its student-centered focus, CALS prides itself on educating society ready graduates.

CALS, as a part of UF/IFAS, is committed to compliance with civil rights, equal employment opportunities, and educational opportunities for its students, staff, and faculty. Our educational opportunities are offered to academically qualified students regardless of their protected status.  

Our CALS Core Values include a commitment to diversity, through which we believe CALS can ensure gender, racial, and social balance.  CALS actively seeks to include a diverse student body  and faculty in internship programs, scholarship programs, and all enhancement activities it offers.  We actively support student organizations such as MANRRS (Minorities in Agricultural and Natural Resource Related Sciences) committed to expanding educational and experiential learning opportunities for under-represented students.  We coordinate summer research and extension internships for under-represented students, as well as scholarship programs coordinated through UF’s inner city Opportunity Alliance outreach program.  CALS faculty serve as minority mentors through a variety of UF programs, and actively work to provide an inclusive, open educational environment for our students.   

CALS is steadfast in its commitment to fairness in its educational activities.      

 Research  

Research at UF/IFAS is conducted through the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station (FAES). The FAES contributes to the accomplishment of UF/IFAS’ mission through the search for new information by the application of biological, physical, economic, and social sciences to the problems facing Florida's agriculture and natural resource based industries.   

The FAES is firmly committed to compliance with civil rights and equal employment opportunity.  This commitment is directed at everyone regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital, family or parental status, and political beliefs.  We encourage and educate faculty to be sensitive to human issues and adhere to university civil rights guidelines in all aspects of employment and  research.  We require our faculty to be fair and respectful of differences in their supervision of employees.  Our pro-active civil rights efforts include an undergraduate research intern program that seeks to introduce research to a diverse population of students. For this program we aggressively recruit minorities to apply and compete for  positions.  In every aspect of the workplace we seek to foster an inconclusive and open environment. 

Extension  

The Extension component of UF/IFAS is the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.  Due to the appropriate federal funding provided from USDA, Extension employees are responsible for ensuring program accessibility to all citizens.  Therefore, there are additional guidelines for Extension with regard to Civil Rights. 

Florida Cooperative Extension's highest goal is to provide the best possible education for its clientele with the objective of providing information and educational programs that contribute positively to society.  We define the best possible education as the highest level of unbiased and scientifically sound programs and publications that enrich individuals and society.  We believe that these aspects of Extension are enhanced by promoting critical thinking, open expression and tolerance.  A diverse workforce provides a positive contribution to these aspects of our mission and, consequently, we aspire for our faculty and staff to be reflective of the society in which we live.  To this end, the UF Extension's objective is to build a faculty and staff population that is diverse by race, gender, ethnicity, and culture.  We will continually move towards these objectives in the development of our programs and services. 

We will embody, through policy and practice, the respect for all persons to encourage a diverse community.  Each of us in the Extension Service play key roles in recruiting and retaining people of diverse cultures and races, only these collective efforts will lead us to these high goals and objectives. 

To reaffirm this commitment, the Dean for Extension will periodically send a letter to the Extension faculty to serve as a reminder of the importance of civil rights issues.  

Description of Program Clientele Contacts           

As a means of assessing citizen contacts, Extension collects program participation data on a routine basis.  An automated reporting system (Faculty Accomplishment System - FAS) is used to store and provide this data as needed.  All educational programs reach Florida’s diverse population.  The table below illustrates the program contacts by race and gender in 2003.

  White Non-White   Female     Male
4-H      47.9%  52.1% 35.8% 64.2%
Agriculture       58.9%   41.1%   30.8%    69.2%
Family/C Sciences  18.3%  81.7%    44.9% 55.1%
Natural Resources  57.1% 42.9% 30.4% 69.6%
Volunteer Dev.    29.9% 70.1% 39.0% 61.0%

Continuing Efforts to Diversify the Extension faculty workforce with regard to race, color, national/ ethnic origin, and/or gender

Florida Extension is committed to the concept of Equal Employment Opportunity and the guarantee that hiring decisions are made without regard to one’s protected class status.  At the same time, the organization seeks to ensure that members of protected classes, particularly race, color, national/ethnic origin, and gender, are notified of vacancies and encouraged to apply thereby increasing the likelihood of hiring a qualified from a protected class.  To this end, there are several measures that are taken to ultimately foster and improve workforce diversity.

  • Extension actively follows the University of Florida procedures for all hiring decisions.  County and State level faculty positions all go through the same recruiting procedure.  This process utilizes professional contacts in the discipline to identify and recruit candidates from protected classes.   Further details are outlined in the next section. 
  • Faculty salary decisions are made without regard to protected class status.  Factors considered for salary include education, experience, and geographic location in the state.   
  • The UF/IFAS Personnel Affairs Office conducts an annual workforce report and analysis at the end of the fiscal year.  This information is distributed to unit leaders to regularly remind the organization of our demographic composite.
  • The Extension Dean regularly examines the selection process used for administrative level positions within Extension to ensure members of protected classes are properly considered. 
  • Retention is considered a significant element in ensuring a healthy and diverse workforce.  All members of the organization are expected to continually work to foster an environment that is free of barriers to diversity and one that promotes a genuine appreciation of diversity and pluralism.  This expectation is communicated regularly from the Dean for Extension. 
  • Mentorship programs are conducted at both the state and county level.  Upon hiring, a mentor is assigned to the new employee.
  • The Extension Dean funds summer internships for individuals considering careers in Extension.  In 2003, there are twelve (12) internships available.  This is an outreach effort to recruit individuals before they complete their education and hopefully cause them to strongly consider Extension as a career.  Minorities are strongly encouraged to apply for these internships.
  • On-site recruiting is conducted at career days at the University of Florida, Florida State University, and Florida A&M University.
  • Extension believes that civil rights training is a critical element in the overall effort to ensure individuals are afforded their civil rights.  In terms of employment, training is provided as an integral part of new faculty orientation and in-service training opportunities.  Civil rights training and discussion are also incorporated in the annual statewide faculty meeting. 

Issues in diversifying the workforce

 While Extension is committed to a diverse workforce, it is recognized that there are some key issues that have an impact on this effort. 

The subjects of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), with its concept of hiring the most qualified candidate without regard to race, gender, etc., and Affirmative Action (AA), with its concept of making hiring decisions with a goal of addressing past discrimination have to be coordinated closely to ensure that legal decisions are made.  The University of Florida has attempted to address this matter by “affirmatively” recruiting in order to ensure that all qualified individuals have fair access to the application process and then subsequently, the hiring decision is made based on the concept of EEO.    This approach addresses the various legal requirements and does not expose the University to lawsuits based on either discriminatory or reverse discriminatory hiring practices.  Therefore, legal requirement is a key issue in diversifying the workforce.            

A pool of qualified candidates is another key issue in workforce diversification. It is important to set realistic expectations.   Workforce diversification efforts must take into account the demographic makeup of a qualified pool as opposed to the population in general.  For example, if an employer has 100 employees, it may or may not be possible that the demographic composite of these 100 employees would mirror the percentages of the whole population.  In Florida, an exact match to the general population would mean that the example employer would have 51 females, 15 African Americans, 17 Hispanic/Latinos, 68 Caucasians, 23 people under the age of 18, and 18 people over the age of 65, etc.  However, it is critical to analyze the composite from which the applicant pool is drawn as opposed to the general population.    Suppose that one is hiring a physician; the true measure for an employer is the statistical composite of the pool of physicians and not the general population.  Otherwise, an employer is pursuing logically unattainable expectations.  Therefore, it is important to consider the number of graduates of a particular subject matter when the selected candidate is required to have a particular degree.  

Another factor that affects the pool of qualified applicants is a student’s choice in majors. The reasons that students select a certain major are certainly myriad.  However, agriculturally-related and family and consumer science related majors do not enjoy the same level of interest that they once held in this country.   This is true of the population as a whole and is statistically more so for minority students.  In fact, some see a college degree as a means of pursuing a career outside of agriculture.  While this issue has implications for college recruiting and outreach, it does have a direct impact on the number of degrees awarded in a particular subject matter. 

The next key issue in workforce diversity is the competition with other employers for a limited pool of applicants.   Although Extension hires individuals from several subject matters, the example given here is Agriculture.  Agriculture is Florida’s second highest income producer (second only to tourism).  As a result, there are thousands of jobs to be filled with applicants possessing agriculture-related degrees.  Given that many organizations are pursuing workforce diversity, there is an increased level of competition for candidates in protected classes.   It is a fact that non-public employers are more flexible in job packages that can be offered to a candidate.  State-funded employers are at a disadvantage when competing for such candidates. 

Salary is another key issue in workforce diversity.   It is well known that salary is only one of many factors that a candidate analyzes when considering a job.  However, it is a very important factor for recent graduates in the job market.  Top-drawer candidates in protected classes are highly sought after.  As a result, the market drives up the salary such candidates are able to demand.  However, state-funded universities are already faced with severe salary compression of existing faculty.  If the University is successful in competing for a given candidate, hiring new faculty at higher salaries compounds the compression problem.    

There are other factors that affect the employment of any Extension faculty.  The knowledge that one must make tenure or permanent status or lose the job; dealing with joint employers in the case of county faculty; and, the inordinate length of time it takes to make a hiring decision in a state-funded university all make the employment process less than ideal.  While these factors are seen as having the same effect on all applicants and are not delineated here a key factors that have a negative effect on minority and/or female candidates, they do have a direct impact on the overall ability of the University to compete for applicants.   

Employment Process for Extension Faculty and Administrators  

All documents associated with the recruitment of faculty and staff have the following disclosure statement.  

The University of Florida is an equal opportunity, equal access, and affirmative action employer.  The “government in the sunshine” laws of Florida require that all documents relating to the search process, including letters of application/nomination and reference, be available for public inspection.  Persons with disabilities have the right to request and receive reasonable accommodation. 

Florida Extension follows the University requirements for the posting, recruitment, and subsequent filling of faculty positions.  The overall model is based on the concept of search and screening committees.  The appointed search and screening committee complies with the University guidelines regarding minority and female membership. 

Position announcements, electronic and hard copy, are distributed by the University of Florida’s Office of the Vice Provost, Equal Opportunity Programs.  The vacancy announcement is also put on the UF/IFAS homepage.  The UF/IFAS web site is linked to the USDA Job Posting web site which provides national coverage.   For state level faculty positions, the search and screening committee may also choose to advertise the vacancy in scientific journals, the Chronicle of Higher Education, etc. 

In effort to affirmatively recruit applicants from protected classes, the University uses a process through which lists of individuals are identified who, in turn, nominate protected class candidates.  This process is generally referred to as the “Lists of Five”.  Five experts in the discipline (external to the University of Florida) are identified by the search and screening committee to help seek out qualified female and minority candidates.  These experts are sent the position announcement and asked to share it with women and minorities that they feel would be interested in the position.  The committee also solicits names of women and minorities from other faculty and experts within the University of Florida (internal experts).  These individuals are also sent the position announcement and encouraged to apply.  The result is the development of four lists: internal females, external females, internal minorities, and external minorities.  The identified/ nominated candidates must still complete the necessary application documents to be considered for the position.  

Screening and Interviewing 

A state level search and screening committee has a membership commensurate with the needs of the position.  For example, leaders of a commodity group may be included in addition to members from the home department and related departments.   Each vacancy for a state level position has a separate search and screen committee.  A short list of top candidates is forwarded to the Department Chair or Research and Education Center Director, as the hiring authorities, to proceed with interviewing.  Interviews are conducted by several people depending on the needs of the position.  Typically, departmental faculty, the Deans, commodity representatives, etc. could be included in the process. 

The search and screening committee for county faculty is a little different since the turnover is higher in such positions.  Therefore, the search and screening committee is appointed for several months and handles all vacancies of county faculty during its term.  It is made up of three to four members.  It has two regular members and one or two experts in a given discipline.   All applicants for a given position are ranked as (1) Highly qualified, (2) Meets minimum qualifications, and (3) Does not meet minimum qualifications.  The qualified applicants are then passed to the District Director, the hiring authority, to determine who will be interviewed.

For county faculty positions, the interviewing group is also a little different from state level faculty.  A committee consisting of the Associate Dean for Extension (County Operations), the respective District Director and County Director, and at least one expert from the subject matter discipline interview the candidates.  The interviewing committee subsequently submits evaluations of the applicants to the District Director, the hiring authority, for final University determination.  Then the county government is consulted based on the memoranda of agreement between the University and county governments. 

Salary Equity 

Starting salaries are determined by degree level and experience.   Status in a protected class is not considered when making a salary determination. 

For state level faculty positions, the minimum hiring salary for entry faculty at the Assistant Professor level is $64,000 per year. 

For county level faculty positions, there is a minimum base salary determined by the level of the candidate’s degree. (B.S. - $29,000, M.S. - $33,000, Ph.D. - $37,000) With experience, starting pay may be higher based on a formula. [From 0-5 years of experience, multiply $400 times the number of years of credited experience.   From 5+ to 9 years, multiply $500 times the number of years of credited experience.  From 9+ - 12 years, multiply $600 times the number of years of credited experience. ]  There are also some cost of living adjustments made for very expensive areas of the state such as Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Monroe County (the Keys). 

Faculty Promotion/ Tenure/ Permanent Status  

At the state level, an Extension faculty member may have the title of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, or Distinguished Professor.  Individuals are typically hired at the Assistant Professor level.  At the county level, an Extension faculty member may have the title of Extension Agent I, II, III, or IV.  There are increasing requirements as one moves up the ladder.  For example, an Agent I or II cannot be promoted to an Agent III without a Masters Degree. 

Florida Cooperative Extension is one of the few national Extension Services that provides tenure eligibility and a promotion track for both state and county faculty.  Since county faculty are not required to have a Ph.D., tenure for them is officially referred to as “Permanent Status”.  Although the terms are different, the effect on employment is identical.   The body of work being considered for promotion/ tenure/ or permanent status typically spans a five-year period.  In both cases, a faculty member must develop a strong record of Extension accomplishments during this time and complete a “Promotion/ Tenure/ Permanent Status” application packet that specifies his or her academic achievements.  

The application packets are sent to all faculty at a higher rank in the academic department or to county faculty at a higher rank in the district of counties respectively.  In each case, faculty review the packet and vote on whether the applying faculty member should be awarded tenure and promoted based on the accomplishments recorded in the packet.   The packets and the accompanying votes are then sent to a single committee comprised of Professors (from Teaching, Research, and Extension) and Extension Agent IV’s to review the packets each year during the tenure and promotion cycle.   Extension complies with University guidelines regarding gender and minority representation on this committee.   If the faculty member’s record is not found acceptable, tenure/permanent status will not be awarded and the employment contract will not be renewed following a period of notification.    

Professional Development, Rewards, Recognition            

UF/IFAS shall assure that each employee has an equal opportunity to apply or be nominated for awards, performance bonuses, and training.  The selection authority in all cases must be able to demonstrate that non-discrimination procedures were followed in announcing these opportunities and selecting recipients and participants. 

Affirmative action/equal opportunity training workshops shall occur at two levels.  The first offerings shall be provided as an integral part of the new faculty orientation series and other staff training programs.  Continuing education on this topic will also be offered.  To facilitate this, we will link to the http://oregonstate.edu/diversity/ in order to make this available to all employees through the Extension Administration Web site  This database will be available to use to locate potential speakers, to find training sessions to attend, to obtain resources, or to gain knowledge by exploring various web sites.

Monitoring and Evaluation 

Annual report of hiring statistics

At the end of each fiscal year, the UF/IFAS Personnel Affairs office prepares a demographic snapshot of the workforce.  This information is provided to hiring officials within UF/IFAS as a report of hiring activity and what changes have occurred in the demographic makeup of the workforce. 

Annual monitoring of clientele contacts

Records of clientele contacts by race and gender are maintained by all faculty for each County Major Program (CMP), and for non-major program activities.  These are reported in the appropriate table in the Faculty Accomplishments System (FAS), distributed among relevant state major programs (SMP).  Recording systems may vary.

During the analysis for individual reports, the relative percentages of minority and female contacts for each CMP are compared to the percentages indicated for the respective potential audience stated in the annual Plan or Work (POW) for the same year.  If the percentage of contacts with any minority group, or with females, is greater than four percentage points below that indicated for the potential audience, the program is identified as not in racial or gender parity.

Parity refers to a condition in which the percent distribution of program participants by race and gender (as measured by reported contacts) is proportionate to, or within reasonable limits of their respective percent distribution in the potential recipient audience/population (as established from census data or “best estimates” from other sources). 

More simply put, the ethnic balance of people contacted throughout the entire year in a County Major Program should be within 4% of the ethnic balance of the total targeted audience.  Actions (affirmative steps) to be taken to achieve parity in those specific county major programs are to be listed in the next year’s county POW. 

The minimum all reasonable efforts to achieve parity required by Extension faculty includes all of the following actions

  • Use of all available mass media (radio, newspaper, TV) to inform potential recipients of programs and opportunities to participate. 
  • Personal letters and circulars addressed to define potential recipients inviting them to participate, including dates and places or meetings of other planned activity.
  • Personal visits by Extension staff members to a representative number of defined potential recipient in the geographically defined areas to encourage   

Questions regarding components of this plan may be forwarded to the UF/IFAS Personnel Affairs office at (352) 392-4777.