March 2009


Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2009 -- Dogs in the workplace

QUESTION

I heard a rumor (and grumbling) that a director at statewide has a kennel with a dog in her office all the time. I'm not allowed to bring my dogs to work due to a variety of reasons (all of which are good reasons, for instance: there are people who are afraid of dogs, allergic to dogs, and work is no place for Fido.)  If this rumor is true, and I suspect it is, why are there two different standards on the Fairbanks campus?

RESPONSE

Statewide employees are expected to comply with all building rules that are in place at UAF. Statewide Public Affairs director Kate Ripley checked with numerous co-workers in the Butrovich Building and could not confirm the dog rumor. Numerous co-workers have not seen a dog being brought into or out of the building.

Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2009 -- Cost of Living Allowance increase

QUESTION

Will staff receive the 4.5 percent COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) increase in July 2009?

RESPONSE

An annual adjustment of 4.5 percent for staff is included in the university's FY10 operating budget which is now before the Legislature. The administration is hopeful the increase will be funded.

Wednesday, Mar. 18, 2009 -- Hockey team travel costs

QUESTION

Who pays for the hockey team to travel to Detroit?  Is it part of the Athletics and Recreation budget at the beginning of the fiscal year? How many people travel with the team?

RESPONSE

From Forrest Karr, Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation

The league (CCHA) covers all travel costs for up to 35 people. Our group includes players, coaches, support staff and media.

Thursday, Mar. 12, 2009 -- Follow-up: Shuttle to playoff hockey games

QUESTION

Forrest Karr's response to the "why not" part of the hockey shuttle question yesterday was unclear. Is the hockey shuttle normally paid for out of ticket revenue?  Does it cost so much to run the shuttle that money from somewhere else cannot be used for this one weekend?

RESPONSE

From Forrest Karr, Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation

The Athletics and Campus Recreation department paid $200 per night for the Holland America bus that was used for home games this year. This expense was built into the FY09 operating budget. Traditionally, peer institutions that have hosted during spring break have seen very little student attendance. We remain hopeful that student interest will be high this weekend, but the additional transportation expense was not budgeted at the beginning of the fiscal year. Hopefully, this helps clarify.

Thursday, Mar. 12, 2009 -- Four-day work weeks

QUESTION

In this tough economic time companies and institutions are taking a number of drastic changes to get by, but many of the actions are negative. The university is also facing a financial pinch due to the hit to the nation's economy, which will likely have a negative impact on employees. One change that has proved to be positive is for states, companies and institutions to implement a four-day work week for its employees. Overall there have been many more benefits than detractors, such as lowering costs, reducing turnover, and improving overall employee happiness. There were even unexpected benefits such as the action acting as a economic stimulus for the areas that they were implemented in.

Has the university considered changing the majority shifts at the university to a four-day work week to reduce costs and see such benefits? Has the university considered offering classes on a four-day schedule as well (similar to how many of UAA's classes are on a four-day schedule, and only run between Monday and Thursday)?

An article discussing the four-day work week implemented by some states is here:
http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=373225

RESPONSE

No. The university is not currently looking at a four-day work week as a cost-cutting option. For the most part, alternate work schedules for individuals can and are occasionally approved; however, they are the exception and require justification. As a residential campus and public institution, UAF is expected to be open during regular business hours for the public and is obligated to serve our residential students throughout the week. The effects of a four-day work week would have to be considered from that perspective and may not have the desired cost-cutting results.

In addition, UAF also faces issues with limited classroom space. Past studies of space on campus indicate that UAF utilizes classrooms more effectively than other campuses on Fridays; however, additional scheduling is possible on Fridays and possibly into the weekend in an effort to maximize our existing space. But a contracted four-day schedule would be difficult if not impossible to maintain without adding additional classrooms on campus.

The university is committed to doing what we can to mitigate any negative effects of the economy on programs that serve the public and the staff and faculty that support them.

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009 -- Shuttle to playoff hockey games

QUESTION

Will there be a shuttle to the playoff hockey games and if so what will the schedule be and if not why not?

RESPONSE

From Forrest Karr, Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation

Unfortunately, there will not be a student bus for the playoff games this weekend.

We (the university and the Carlson Center) are basically a shell hosting on behalf of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). We will handle accounting and pass through both revenues and expenses. For example, ticket sales revenue belongs to the league, which is why non-credentialed students will be required to pay this weekend.

There is some long-term good from this system. The league uses playoff revenue to cover the costs of eight visiting schools over the course of two weekends. The lion's share of this money will be used to cover the cost of our opponent, Ohio State, traveling to Alaska. Any excess revenue sent to league is put in a capital reserve fund that ultimately kicks interest back to member institutions.

If there is a small group of students that need a ride, I would be happy to help transport.

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009 -- U-Pass program's test swipe units

QUESTION

What information is being collected by the borough when I swipe my PolarExpress card to get onto the city buses? How is that information being used? I was OK with swiping my card until I saw my full name and UA ID# flash up on the screen of the reader.

RESPONSE

The swipe unit in the borough bus is a test unit. We currently only have one we are testing. The unit checks to see if a card is valid, and records the card number and time of the transaction. They will provide rider counts for this program. 

The unit contains a list of valid PolarExpress card numbers. It does not contain names. When someone swipes his or her card, the number and whether or not the card is valid appears on the screen. No name shows on the screen. The PolarExpress office downloads the transaction information. No card numbers or names are provided to the borough.

The new U-Pass program has been enthusiastically received by staff, faculty and students. Thank you for taking advantage of the program and reducing energy consumption.

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009 -- Green route shuttle

QUESTION

Why wasn't a notice sent out via e-mail to all students, faculty and staff regarding the Green Shuttle not running during spring break? Green ran the entire time that students and faculty were out during the winter holiday break.

RESPONSE

Information regarding the limited service during spring break is posted at all shuttle stations, the shuttle bus website and the UAF shuttle tracker site. Every year, the green shuttle is removed from service during the winter and spring academic breaks and summer sessions. This results in a cost savings for the university.

When classes are not in session the gold and blue routes move around campus more efficiently and the campus shuttle is available to help with transportation needs during peak periods. During this time, faculty and staff should experience limited breaks in service.

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2009 -- Parking lot snow removal

QUESTION

Why haven't the parking lots been plowed after the large amount of snow that was received this past week? Without four-wheel/all-wheel drive, I would have gotten stuck pulling into a parking space this morning.

RESPONSE

Last week, the Facilities Services' grounds crew anticipated 1 - 2 inches of new snow, as forecasted. We actually received approximately 8 - 10 inches followed by wind and drifting snow. The first priority on campus includes handicap ramps and handicap parking locations, and pedestrian walkways and stairs. Due to drifting snow, all areas completed prior to the weekend had to be cleaned again, and in some cases several times. With limited heavy equipment operators. all parking lots were not completed. We anticipate snow will be removed from all areas by the end of the week.

There are many factors that impact snow removal on the UAF campus, and priorities consistently change with temperatures, amount of snow, and changes in weather conditions. The grounds crew is responsible for snow removal from 79 parking lots (includes off campus sites), 8.28 miles of road, 8.81 miles of walkway, and 164 sets of exterior stairs. A typical parking lot requires six hours for complete snow removal, and is rarely completely free of vehicles. To minimize the impact on residents, lots near residential areas are not completed at night and many lots require a two-day notice to ensure all vehicles are removed.

Please contact 474-7000 with snow removal questions or concerns; it is helpful for us to know the specific parking lot you are asking about.

Monday, Mar. 9 , 2009 -- Matching donations for charities

QUESTION

I am a staff member at the UAF campus and have recently made a donation to a charity. The charity asked if my employer would match my donation (and hence double or triple it), and gave a little web tool to check if they did. The university didn't show up on the check. Does the university offer donation matching for charities, or will it consider doing so in the future?

Also this charity mentioned that there was a federal program where people of some state and federal agencies could make donations from their paychecks directly through a service called Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) http://www.opm.gov/cfc/.  Is that an option for university employees?

RESPONSE

The university does not offer a matching donation for charities. As a public institution, we use general funds to conduct teaching, research and public service activities that are specific to the university's mission.

While UAF doesn’t participate specifically in the Combined Federal Campaign, the university has selected United Way as an umbrella organization through which employees can use payroll deduction to make contributions to any UW organization.

This makes it easy for employees to contribute to multiple agencies, or just one. Employees also may contribute to any 501(c)3 entity, even if they aren't a United Way agency.

Monday, Mar. 9 , 2009 -- UAOnline and student e-mail addresses

QUESTION

I have faculty access to UAOnline and I am required to email a class for various circumstances. When you display a class the some of the students have the email icon by their information and some do not.  When you click email class it only pulls the students with the icon.  Why does it not pull everyone?  I have spent much time looking up their e-mails which are in UAOnline and adding them to the e-mail I'm sending. It would seem that if their email is in UAOnline it would grab it.

RESPONSE

UAOnline pulls the e-mail that is listed as preferred in Banner.  If none of the e-mail addresses have the preferred indicator set in Banner, no email icon appears. OIT is aware of the issue, it's on their list of needs for the campus and plan to schedule time to write the script which should resolve the issue. Please feel free to send general questions regarding services such as UAOnline, Blackboard and Google Apps directly to helpdesk@alaska.edu.

Friday, Mar. 6, 2009 -- Bike trail

QUESTION

Is the bike trail that runs along Farmer's Loop part of campus? More so, who is responsible for plowing it? My fiance and I walk the trail up to campus every day and it is so great having a plowed trail. I don't know if I should thank UAF or DOT or someone else for this service.

RESPONSE

UAF crews plow the trail from campus to the intersection of Ballaine Rd. and Farmers Loop. The Alaska Department of Transportation plows the rest of the trail on Farmers Loop. More information on UAF trails is available online.

Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2009 -- Hockey play-off games

QUESTION

Where can I find information about the hockey play-off games? I read that the dates are March 13-15.  Does this mean there is a Sunday game?  Where can I find play-off ticket prices?

RESPONSE

Information is now posted on the Alaska Nanooks website about the best-of-three CCHA Quarterfinal playoff series the Alaska Nanooks will host March 13-15, 2009 at the Carlson Center.

Please call the UAF Ticket Office, at 907-474-5977 for more information.

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