If you want to see some of the vegetables the greenhouse is producing, Jenny will be at a table in the Great Hall after today’s convocation.
Staff like Jenny Day keep UAF functioning to meet our mission. From the crew operating our heat and power plant, to the admissions counselors
recruiting new students (and as you heard from our numbers, doing a great job!), to the rural campus staff who often do three or four jobs in one, the ability for UAF to move ahead rests on the backs of close to 3,000 dedicated staff and student employees.
You may recall that during last year’s convocation I talked about how we need to put people first at UAF. I want to make sure we continue to do that. The family friendly task force is finishing its recommendations on how UAF as an employer can do a better job of recognizing the needs of employee’s families, particularly in child care but in other ways as well.
We put in place a supervisory training program that has seen tremendous success. I’m confident this program will make a difference as we identify other areas of training and professional development for employees and supervisors. We’re also getting ready to beef up our mediation services to employees as an alternative to the formal complaint or grievance process.
Employees also give back to the university in other areas. Last year, more than 530 employees collectively gave a quarter of a million dollars to UAF. This fall we will be launching a new employee-giving campaign
. Keep an eye out for an email announcing the program. I encourage each of you to use this opportunity to support the UAF program, department, or scholarship of your choice – you can make the place where you study, work and live a better place for all.
Over the course of this summer, I’ve been shifting my focus from the shorter-term transition to thinking about where we are going in the coming years.
Earlier I mentioned the MacTaggart report. This external review affirms some existing priorities and provides suggestions for how we can better align UAF’s organization with our longer-term strategic plans.
The report, which is available online, carries five themes:
- Leverage cutting-edge research to better advantage UAF;
- Link our marketing efforts more closely with student recruitment and enrollment management
- Better organize and communicate the university’s work in distance education and e-learning
- Strengthen service to rural Alaska and its people;
- And achieve greater administrative efficiency and improved resource allocation.
Dr. MacTaggart has thoughtfully considered past recommendations identified through our planning processes. He built his report what he heard in interviews with more than 40 staff, faculty, students, and community members. I’ve discussed the findings and recommendations with him at length and believe the report provides a good foundation for future action. Everything we do that simplifies our administrative processes and procedures, or that reduces costs, enhances opportunities to focus on sustaining our primary mission.
Over the next two months I will meet with governance groups and others to discuss the contents of the report and receive further input. I’ll keep you in the campus community informed of the process, and welcome your thoughts as we move forward.
I know there is intense interest about whether or how we will implement some of the recommendations. I am still listening to your views, and will make decisions in the near term. There will clearly continue to be change, as is natural at any institution, but speculation about what change will happen is premature and wastes your time and energy. I would far rather you use your efforts to help create the changes you want at UAF.
I also encourage you to read the forthcoming Vision 2017
implementation plan. Some of you will recall the work of the UAF Vision Task Force two years ago, formed to make recommendations on how UAF could position itself to become one of the world’s premier arctic research and teaching universities by 2017, when we will celebrate our 100th
anniversary. We are now integrating the task force report with our Strategic Plan 2010
, to concisely set clear targets and measurable outcomes for UAF’s future. This work also feeds the accreditation process.
I want to switch gears now and talk about our operating and capital budget priorities for next fiscal year. While the Board of Regents has yet to adopt an official university budget request to the Governor and Legislature, UAF’s priorities are clear in President Hamilton’s request to the board.
As you know, we were less than fully successful in last year’s requests. Our operating budget message for this year is pretty much the “same as last year” with only a few changes.
We will follow the top system priorities with a focus on funding:
- The fixed costs of operating the university, including compensation, utilities, compliance and other increases;
- Energy programs at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power and the Cooperative Extension Service, which are currently funded for a only single year;
- Science, technology, engineering and math initiatives, including UAF’s Alaska Summer Research Academy, summer bridge programs, and physics and math support;
- Climate research and information, and sustainability initiatives, including the Marine Advisory Program;
- Meeting the educational needs for Alaska’s high demand jobs in teacher education, health, workforce programs, and engineering; and
- Student success initiatives, with an emphasis on pre-college programs, student services managers for each of UAF’s rural campuses, honors and undergraduate research, and UAF’s indigenous studies program.
We will need your support, expressed to our legislative delegation, in order to get funding for these additions to our operating budget.
The capital budget is similar to last year’s, but somewhat smaller. And rightfully so. When the university asks for $541 million, and gets $3 million, the “laundry list” approach is clearly not working. And it doesn’t communicate our top priorities.
It is crucial that we receive adequate funding to address the growing backlog of deferred maintenance at all of our campuses. Being Alaska’s first university also means UAF is Alaska’s oldest university, and despite excellent maintenance efforts, age can be seen throughout campus in our classrooms, laboratories and residence halls.
It takes $50 million per year system-wide to keep the deferred maintenance list from growing. So that’s the top priority for the system, and for us.
Our top new construction priority, and the only new building on the president’s list, is the Life Science Innovation and Learning Facility
. We made some headway on this project last year, as legislators across the state began to understand the importance to Alaska of research that will be accomplished in this building. They understood, but the state’s fiscal position forced a negative decision. There must be a different outcome this year.
We need the life sciences facility now because it will help us educate a new generation of Alaskans to solve Alaska’s challenges in biomedicine, neuroscience, and wildlife biology.
We need life sciences now because it will provide the critical space for Alaska-based biological research that we are ready to do now.
We need life sciences now because it represents the best of the best in research that benefits the entire state of Alaska.
So those are our top budget priorities. On the not-so-distant planning horizon is another big issue. Our Fairbanks campus combined heat and power plant, which provides the campus with heat, cooling, and electric power, is more than 40 years old, with a design capacity of 50 years.
While it has proven to be exceptionally reliable, safe and efficient since it first began operations, we need a major plant renovation or replacement in the next five to seven years.
As the only source of heat for most of campus, and the primary source of electric power, a central plant failure could stop all campus business, and, quite literally, leave us freezing in the dark.
[LIGHTS OFF FOR 2 SECONDS]
Fortunately, that was just for show. One of the reasons we do such a good job of keeping our lights on at UAF is because of our excellent facilities services crew. Unfortunately they are going to lose a person who has been their leader for 11 years now, and that is Kathleen Schedler, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities and Safety. Kathleen is retiring in December, and I would like to thank her for her dedication and years of service.
There are few options for heat and power on the Fairbanks campus, and we need to move fairly rapidly. The only option not on the table is to do nothing.
There are other capital needs for UAF, and we’re working on public-private partnerships and fundraising to support the Energy Technology Research Building and considering private alternatives to address our needs for student housing. Even in tight budget times, we need to move forward on our priorities.
As you can see from the UAF map, we are a complex university, unlike any other in the country. We are complex in our mission, our geography, and our support structure. Too often, this complexity negatively impacts the decisions we must make. Yet through our nearly one hundred years, we have been able to sustain our mission and to succeed.
The new issue of the UAF magazine “Aurora
” just came out, and within it are two examples of people enduring – sustaining themselves through the types of challenges that most us are unlikely to experience.
The first is a story on the Center for Alaska Native Health Research’s Elluam Tungiinun [HTH-lom TOO-neeng-nung] program, a project that teaches Alaska Native teens and their families how to protect themselves against suicide and substance abuse using knowledge gleaned from healthy Alaska Natives. After eight suicides in a year and a half, the village of Alakanuk was one of the first Alaska Native communities to sign up for the research program and the only one that agreed to go public about their involvement.
The second story is a profile on Alaska Nanooks rifle coach Dan Jordan, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a climbing accident in May 1999. Dan is one of the most positive people you will find on this campus – in fact, he’s president of the Fairbanks Optimist club. Over the years he has not let his accident slow him down, as he has gone on to hunt moose, ride four-wheelers and snow machines, build a house, and – of course – coach the Nanook rifle team to three consecutive national championships.
Part of UAF’s approach to sustaining and enduring involves adapting technology and investing in social media. Finding out what is happening at UAF has never been easier, thanks to examples such as:
…a soon to be released UAF iTunesU site, which will allow students to download podcasts of class lectures and community members to download podcasts of public lectures…
…and a recently released Alaska Nanooks Twitter
site, so you can keep up on the scores of your favorite Nanooks sports team.
If you prefer communicating face to face rather than on Facebook, that’s the nice thing about our campuses. One of the best parts of my job is getting out and about across the Fairbanks and Tanana Valley campuses, and to our rural campuses, to talk one on one with students, faculty and staff. It’s these conversations that help me the most with my job as chancellor, and I always appreciate those opportunities to meet with you.
It takes all of us to sustain UAF, to meet our commitments to students, and to the state and communities that support us, and to meet our mission. In closing, thanks to all of you for all that you do to sustain UAF. I am excited about our journey.
I will take a few questions, but I do want to remind people both here in Fairbanks and at the rural sites that there is ice cream awaiting us all. I don’t want that to impact the number of questions I take, but remember – ice cream does not have the capacity to endure. It melts.
Thank you for joining me here and by audio and web conference today. I’ll begin with a question from here in Fairbanks – those on audio or online can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
, and if we don’t have time to answer them all here, we’ll post answers on the Grapevine