Outgoing Staff Advisor to the UC Regents Kathy Barton reflects on her role
Kathy Barton will conclude her term as Staff Advisor to the Regents in June. She talks about her experience and how she juggles the role with her job as Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives at the new School of Medicine at UC Riverside. Applications for the position are due Friday, March 7. Interested? Learn more about how to apply.
How would you describe the role of the Staff Advisor to the Regents?
It is absolutely the experience of a lifetime. If you are passionate about the mission of the University of California, this is a chance to take something of a fellowship, if you will, to learn about the university and its place in California and California politics. It is also a calling to provide a staff perspective to the university.
Why did you apply to be Staff Advisor?
UC is a place that I discovered 28 years ago and knew right away that it was where I wanted to spend my professional life. What resonated with me was its public mission, and with each passing year, my appreciation for UC’s impact on California and beyond has only grown stronger. As a staff member, it is gratifying and a privilege to contribute to that mission. UC staff has subject matter experts in every field and subject you can imagine. The role of staff is so important in an environment where learning, research and public service is valued. I wanted to be part of the mission to an even greater level.
Has it lived up to your expectations?
My experience has exceeded my expectations. It’s been so rewarding to see how open regents and leadership at the Office of the President have been to this role. When we ask to speak to people, as long as their schedule permits, they’ve welcomed us with open arms.
What’s been the best part about serving in the position?
Talking with staff on the campuses that we visit. Our interactions with staff are always so gratifying, seeing how dedicated they are to the mission. They are always concerned about trends they see university-wide or on a campus. They have encouraged us to work on certain issues, such as expanding professional development opportunities. What always comes through is an abiding dedication to the mission of the University of California.
What’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is balancing the responsibilities of my position at UC Riverside and the responsibilities of this role. That is not unique to me. Most staff members are all highly dedicated to our jobs and we’ve all been asked to do more with less in recent years.
I’ve become much better at mobile computing, finding a quiet corner to take care of something emerging on my home campus. I’ve become better at time management, scheduling time on my calendar to attend to Staff Advisor matters. I find this uses my time more effectively. Everyone’s personal work circumstances are different, so my experience may not be typical.
How much time do you spend on your duties and how do you juggle that and your job?
This is a question we get often. The time commitment varies and is episodic. For example, there will be weeks when a great deal of time is spent on Staff Advisor duties, such as the week of a regents meeting when we spend the better part of three days on our duties. On the other hand, there are weeks when I spend about five percent of my time on it. The volume of email and telephone communications we field also affects the time commitment.
Has the position helped you in your job? If so, how?
I would hope people don’t see this as a career advancement move. On the other hand, it is the ultimate professional development opportunity given the people you meet and the occasions to connect with leadership at the Office of the President and regents. The depth of knowledge you gain about the entire system really helps with work you do at your location.
I also gained a great appreciation for the role of the Office of President and how dedicated individual staff and leaders in Oakland are to the success of the university. Too often OP is looked upon unfavorably, but the fact is every individual in headquarters is dedicated to the success of the mission.
What advice would you give someone interested in applying to be Staff Advisor?
It’s important to know when it is the right time in your career or family circumstances to devote time to this role. For individuals who think it’s not quite the right time for them, I would suggest getting involved in campus leadership positions, such as staff assembly or campus committees, as a way to broaden your knowledge of issues facing the university. For those interested in applying in the near term, reach out to the current Staff Advisors to find out what it entails. Then throw your hat in the ring.