September 2009

Friday, Sept. 25, 2009 -- Seasonal flu vaccines

QUESTION

Will non-H1N1 flu shots be given on campus again this fall? If so, will staff and faculty have to pay for them?

RESPONSE

The university is working with a private contractor to try to set up a seasonal flu vaccine clinic for employees on the Fairbanks campus. If this becomes available, it will be advertised to staff and faculty. Under the current plan, the charges would be submitted through your insurance.

Feel free to contact your medical provider and request the seasonal flu vaccine there. 

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009 -- Electronic timesheets

QUESTION

Having recently come from a university that uses an online payroll system, I have been nothing but frustrated with UA's paper timesheet system. Paper time sheets represent a relic of the last century, not to mention a huge loss of time and paper resources. In 2005 Northwestern switched to ETES (Electronic Time Entry System). It handles all levels of university employment through email/web communications, even off-campus work-study employees.

I suggest your administrators contact Barry Sexton, Assistant Director of Payroll (b-sexton at northwestern.edu). Barry was instrumental in integrating ETES into the NU Work-Study Office payroll system when I was a staff employee in the Financial Aid Office. Once UA switches over to an online system everyone will wonder why you didn't do it sooner!

RESPONSE

Electronic timesheets and a companion issue, electronic grant effort reporting, are two projects that VCAS Pat Pitney is interested in moving forward. UAF HR is assisting her in the "discovery" phase of electronic timesheets and is in the process of vetting the costs and other issues in implementing electronic timesheets. The first phase will be to identify and contact other institutions which have implemented electronic timesheets. 

We do need to free ourselves from paper, improve our reporting to federal agencies, improve our management reporting internally for grant expenditures, eliminate hours of employee time involved in printing, distributing, tracking, signing, alphabetizing, data-entering, alphabetizing again, storing and microfilming paper timesheets.

We thank you for providing another possible contact on this issue. Many of us are looking forward to the day when we can look back and say, "Remember when we had paper timesheets?" 

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009 -- Student services positions

QUESTION

In the Chancellor's Convocation I heard a reference to student services staff in rural campuses added to work with regional, local high school students. Is this a newly funded position for each campuses? For the current year?

P.S. Unfortunately because of sound quality and background noise, I wasn't able to hear all portions of the presentation.

RESPONSE

Chancellor Rogers was referencing President Hamilton's request to the Board
of Regents, which includes the previously grant-funded student services positions.

These positions are not yet funded. However, it is part of the proposed Student Success Initiative.

Monday, Sept. 21, 2009 -- Sustainable lawns

SUGGESTION

My suggestion for a sustainable campus is to stop putting in lawns and start putting in wildflowers. The museum would look great surrounded by fireweed. Lawns are not sustainable. They use both chemicals and water and are very high in labor costs. They are not necessary.  If you really want to be sustainable make all the lawns into cabbage gardens. It seems like we wreck our own uniqueness trying to look like everywhere else.     


Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009 -- Vanity e-mail addresses and Google apps

QUESTION

May I suggest that our campus needs clear, easy to follow, detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to set up and use a vanity email address in Google mail? OIT could post this information in various places on their web pages about Google Apps. It would be a huge service to those who would like to use a firstname.lastname@alaska.edu email address instead of the default address. My department received so many requests for this information that we finally created a document to guide our coworkers through the process. We'd be happy to share!

RESPONSE

There are no vanity email addresses within Google Apps @ UA itself. 

All Vanity Email Addresses are created and maintained in the Enterprise Directory, EDIR. In fact, EDIR allows each person to register up to five vanity adresses that will be routed to the email destination. Once a person signs up for Google Apps @ UA, the email destination is their Google Account.

Any existing vanity addresses in EDIR will still exist once a person signs up for Google Apps @ UA.  If mail used to come to a user a first.last@alaska.edu - that vanity will still exist and will route to Google Apps @ UA as the new destination.

It is easy to edit your own EDIR record and setup Vanity Addresses, it does not require extra privileges.

Instructions are available from the EDIR Help page:

http://www.alaska.edu/oit/sc/support/edir/edirHelp.xml

and the section specifically on Vanity Addresses is:

http://www.alaska.edu/oit/sc/support/edir/edirHelp.xml#Vanity

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009 -- Staff compensation

QUESTION

Chancellor Rogers will be requesting that the Board of Regents put forth a 3 percent staff increase for BY11. The 3 percent number was chosen in respect to a low CPI in Anchorage for the first half of 2009 or in university talk FY09. There has been no indication or concern that UAF staff will be faced with an increased health care package, increased cost of living factors, and decreased budget contributions to departments. Chancellor Rogers sights, the new "soft closure" as a benefit, to staff and the university, but who benefits? If staff do not use the 'soft closure' days, the money saved does not come back to the employee's department, it goes to central and they will distribute as they see fit. The 'soft closure' is a joke. It is during a period of time when Alaskan's see the highest air fares, the worse road conditions, and weather prohibiting outside work, so there is no benefit of vacation, but you must take annual leave. Is the 'soft closure' a benefit to employees? Is there any staff member that feels the reasoning behind a 3 percent pay increase, which is not based on the cost of living and an increase in health benefit should be justified? I would like to hear responses from all staff including the Chancellor.

RESPONSE

From UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers

President Hamilton will recommend to the Board of Regents a total compensation pool for unrepresented employees of 3 percent for FY11. I support this recommendation, and the allocation of the increase at higher percentages for the lowest-paid employees to recognize the increased costs of health care. The Anchorage CPI for the first half of 2009 (the only published cost of living indicator) was negative; it totals 1.3 percent for the 12 months ending June 30, 2009.  

The "soft closure" was not developed as an additional staff benefit, but rather as an alternative way to reduce UAF expenditures this year.  It was proposed as an alternative to further budget reductions, layoffs, or furloughs. 

Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 -- Google applications switch

QUESTION

A co-worker and her computer are having a heck of a time switching to Google Applications. Office of Information Technology specialists have practically lived in this office the past two weeks trying to fix the problems. What is UAF doing to address these problems? Might we have some more time to switch over - past the end of this year? Thanks.

RESPONSE

From Karl Kowalski, Office of Information Technology 

Not knowing the particular situation regarding your co-worker's computer, we cannot address specifics here. However, the vast majority of conversions have been smooth and uneventful. Support staff continue to be available to work with individuals that may have extenuating circumstances. 

The university is still on target to have all users migrated by Dec. 31 and maintain a six-month forwarding beyond that. At this time, we do not anticipate extending the switch over beyond this date.

Additional questions can be sent directly to me at karl.kowalski@alaska.edu.

Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 -- Registration push

SUGGESTION

There seems to be a major marketing/advertising push telling community members to "sign up for class!" before the last day of registration which is a week into classes being held.  I'd like to recommend that the advertising push happen earlier (say, mid-August) so that when those people in the community do decide to attend it's not a frustrating experience because the can't get admitted  immediately, can't get financial aid immediately, and they wont miss the first day of class.

RESPONSE

From Michelle Renfrew, Tanana Valley Campus 

Thanks for the feedback. Our registration campaign began July 31 and ran through the last day to register for classes, which is Sept. 11.  We always encourage people to register early (beginning in April).  However, many students are not ready to register in April and unfortunately do wait until the last minute no matter how much we encourage early registration.  We do our best to assist our students in the process and try to make it as easy as possible regardless of when they decide to register. We appreciate the feedback and will take it into consideration for the next campaign.      

Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 -- Butrovich dumpster

QUESTION

Is it true that there was a dumpster outside Butrovich that had to be removed because someone didn't like the way it looked?

Is there a policy not to have storage containers located on campus? I heard some had to be removed because of complaints?

RESPONSE

From Darrin Edson, Facilities Services 

The second dumpster at the Butrovich Building was not needed and was removed and located elsewhere.

It’s general policy not to locate Conex-type storage units on the campus unless absolutely necessary.

Monday, Sept. 14, 2009 -- Bugs on campus

QUESTION

All the gnats, no-see-ums, bugs on the main campus. Is there a cause for the explosion of bugs?

RESPONSE

From Michele Hebert, Cooperative Extension Service 

It is just a natural thing to have bug explosions, especially in the fall when late hatches get ready for winter overwintering. Enjoy nature!

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009 -- Residence Life cable provider

QUESTION

Why has the university switched cable providers for the Hess Village Family Housing Complex? There are many problems with the new provider. The audio and video are not in-sync on many of the local channels, ABC is the worst, and the programming on cable channels are all on a different time zone, I believe it is eastern. This means that when you do find something decent and appropriate for children to watch during primetime you have to deal with the questions they ask that come from having “adult” commercials – specifically for the pornographic channels – airing during these programs. How can this be an improvement, especially in the family housing complex where students with children live?

RESPONSE

From Kevin HuddyResidence Life

The reason for the change in TV providers was that the old contract had expired. The university followed the normal procurement regulations and procedures and a new provider was awarded the contract. The new contract more than triples the number of stations, is less expensive and offers an emergency notification function that was not available previously.

To be clear, contrary to the supposition in the question, UAF does not subscribe to pornographic stations. Each person has their own sensibility as to what is acceptable programming and should take appropriate action.

The cable line-up increased from 23 stations to 73. When the new stations began to transmit through the UAF fiber optic system, problems appeared in the transmission lines at UAF due to the age of the infrastructure and the additional traffic load of the increased channel line up. Several parts failed, including an optical splitter that transmits the stations to both Hess Village and Cutler Apts. Due to the age of the UAF fiber system and the lack of spare parts at UAF, the replacement parts are being custom built and are due to arrive at UAF this week to correct the transmission. In the meantime, a technician was brought to Fairbanks from Anchorage to refine the signal to Hess Village to bring as much clarity as possible till the replacement parts are available. The technician specifically concentrated on Hess Village quality, and spent time at the Hess Rec Center TV with the UAF family housing resident director. They both felt the quality of transmission was good.

Multiple messages were sent to the UAF apt-list-serve explaining the problems; the latest message included a request to let Residence Life know of any particular transmission problems by specific location. One problem was reported from Harwood, one from Moore Hall, one from Chandalar. This is the first report of the audio and video not being in-sync. If a location is provided, a technician can be sent to trouble shoot.

To address the programming time zones, we’ve confirmed with the TV provider, Apogee, the programming is sent in the West Coast Time Zone.

Friday, Sept. 4, 2009 -- Future of Constitution Hall

QUESTION

I was told that the bookstore building, Constitution Hall, is going to be changed into a fast food/lounge building while the book store will be moved to the library study area and the post office will be moved to a new building on the Wood Center. Is this true? Will there be another fee for the students to run this? Can I suggest improvements to this idea?

RESPONSE

From Linda ZanazzoFacilities Services

We have not heard this. UAF has hired a consultant to design an elevator and ADA restroom renovations for Constitution Hall. One idea raised during the design process is to install a coffee bar near the proposed elevator lobby. However, no decisions have been made about changing uses in Constitution Hall and there are no plans to move the Bookstore. The campus is always open to ideas and welcomes any suggestions you may have for improving services and use of facilities. 

Friday, Sept. 4, 2009 -- Orientation lunches and barbecues

QUESTION

Who or what funds the Orientation lunches and evening barbeques? Although my dining contract (mandatory) says service started today, much to my surprise Lola Tilly was closed. I was told some lunches and dinners the first few days of the semester are instead being served at orientation events. Since I also pay a mandatory orientation fee, I'm curious as to which bucket of money these lunches and dinners are funded from.  If from the dining contract, what does the orientation fee go toward? 

RESPONSE

Orientation lunches and evening barbecues are funded in part by the Orientation program which receives fees and general fund monies. Meals are also sponsored by non-UAF and UAF department, including the Alumni Association and Business and Auxiliary  services (Dining Services).

As a part of the dining program special meals, like the traditional opening barbecue, are served at different locations. This year Dining Services also moved the meal plan brunch from Lola Tilly to the Wood Center to allow students and visitors to participate in Orientation programming. Students on the meal plan do use their meals at these locations. 

The New Student Orientation fee pays for all the NSO logistics, entertainment, staffing, supplies and certain meals, including those for family members. 

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