April 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 -- Reducing the number of athletic teams


Are there any plans to reduce the UAF athletic teams?


From Forrest Karr, UAF athletic director

There are no plans to reduce the number of UAF athletic teams. UAF meets the minimum requirements of National Collegiate Athletic Association Bylaw 20.10.3 (see below) by sponsoring the following sports:

• Men's Basketball

• Men's Cross Country

• Men's Ice Hockey

• Men's Skiing

• Men's and Women's Rifle

• Women's Basketball

• Women's Cross Country 

• Women's Skiing

• Women's Swimming

• Women's Volleyball

NCAA Division III also requires 10 sports and NCAA Division I requires 14 sports. Therefore, UAF cannot reduce athletic teams and remain a member of the NCAA at any level. 

NCAA Division II Bylaw 20.10.3 (Sports Sponsorship)  

A member of Division II shall sponsor in Division II a minimum of:  

(a) Five varsity intercollegiate sports, including at least two team sports, based on the minimum requirements of Bylaw and involving all-male teams or mixed teams of males and females; and five varsity intercollegiate sports, including at least two team sports, based on the minimum requirements of Bylaw and involving all-female teams; or

(b) Four varsity intercollegiate sports, including at least two team sports, based on the minimum requirement of Bylaw and involving all-male teams or mixed teams of males and females; and six varsity intercollegiate sports, including at least two team sports, based on the minimum requirements of Bylaw and involving all-female teams.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 -- Increased health care costs


A study by the Kaiser Foundation recently stated that the cost of health care is rising by about 9 percent a year.  If this is true, why is the one of the insurance options available to us increasing by 67 percent?


From Mike Humphrey, UA director of benefits

UA is self insured, which means all costs for the health care and pharmacy plans are paid by the university and its employees. As a result, increased costs from Alaska providers and hospitals, increased usage of health services by employees and catastrophic claims have a direct impact on UA’s annual health care costs. In addition, Alaska’s health care market is unique and as a result our cost trends are different from most of the U.S.  

The good news is UA’s costs for health care are not growing at the same high level as the overall rate of health care inflation in Alaska. Premera estimates UA’s health plan costs should be increasing at more than 15 percent a year. We have experienced an increase in plan costs of approximately $5 million annually, or a little more than 10 percent of total plan costs over the last five years. Employees have asked why the increases in employee charges have not similarly been about 10 percent, and why the rate of increase is not consistent between plans and categories of dependent coverage.  

During the last several years, UA’s plan costs have increased more slowly than projected. While this has been good news for the plan, the fact that actual claims were lower in those years resulted in a reduction in the amount needing to be collected from employees and a consequent narrowing of employee rates between Deluxe, Standard and Economy plans. Just as the employee charges for the three plans got closer together, there was a similar narrowing of the differences between employee rates for categories of dependents, e.g. employee + spouse, employee + child(ren) and employee + family. After three years of narrowing or compression of employee rates between plans and dependent categories, for fiscal year 2011 employee rates were set in a way that is more true to the actual value of each plan.  

After full consideration and recommendation by the joint health care committee and approval by the university, employee rates were set in a manner that better reflected the value of the actual benefits received of the plans, to account for higher than expected number of large claims and to factor in for the unusually high use of health services on the Deluxe plan. While the committee determined this to be the best way to establish rates for employees, the levels of increases needed were not consistent between plans and categories of dependents.  

For further information about the university’s health care accounting, please visit our website.

I will also be answering questions at the UAF Staff Council brown bag lunch discussion on health care and open enrollment, April 22 from noon - 1 p.m. Contact Nichole Kloepfer at fystaff@uaf.edu for more information. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 -- Patty Gym bleachers


How old are the bleachers in the Patty Center Gym and are they ever inspected?  I was in a basketball tournament last week, and felt very unsafe on the bleachers and didn't even let my kids go higher than a few rows up.


The Ernest N. Patty Building was built in 1963 Existing Patty Gym bleachers are original to the building. Preventive maintenance work was conducted in fall 2008 and included replacement of broken bleachers, replacing bolts and inspecting and replacing the angle and cross braces as needed. In addition, Facilities Services began preventive maintenance work April 7 of this year.

Replacement of the bleachers has been identified as part of a $49,350,000 unfunded deferred maintenance and was priority 23 of 43 on the revitalization and renewal projects list for the FY11 capital budget request. The cost of renovating the existing bleachers exceeds the cost of replacing the seating. Once funding is available, retractable bleachers will be installed to allow practice facilities for UAF s NCAA basketball and volleyball teams and adequate seating for their games.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 -- Labor union rules


I understand there are rules for union organizing on campus and that the unions are permitted to contact staff, but in my department the actions of the union representatives have started to border on harassment.  My supervisor has told them to leave if they don't make an appointment and has remind them of the rules they must follow, but this hasn't helped.  What can we do?


From Jenny Grieve, Labor and employee relations

Labor and Employee Relations sent the following instructions to ASEA regarding being in public areas:

While building layouts will vary, the public areas are usually limited to foyers and other open areas near entrances and exits, as well as areas such as conference rooms that the union has formally reserved through established University procedures for organizing activities. Work areas include employees' offices, open areas in which employee cubicles are located and other building work locations utilized solely by employees rather than accessible to members of the public.

Additionally, as communicated earlier, neither employee or nonemployee union organizers are permitted to disrupt the workplace by attempting to converse with employees concerning union organizing topics during the employee work day, unless the employees are on a break, such as during the employees' lunch time.

If there continues to be disruptions even after an attempt has been made to remind the union representative he or she is in a workspace or is disrupting workflow, please feel free to contact Labor and Employee Relations at 450-8230.

Additional information on other topics is available under the Frequently Asked Questions link on the UA Labor and Employee Relations website

Friday, April 2, 2010 -- Downsizing UAF's School of Management


I heard that UA will be downsizing the UAF School of Management and consolidating administration of UA MBA programs to one primary campus - UAA.  Pres. Gamble will make the final decision.  Notification will be in 2010/11 and the consolidation will not occur before 2011-2013.


From Mark Herrmann, SOM dean

UAF's School of Management’s Masters of Business Administration program remains strong and the school has no plans to downsize the programs offered at UAF. SOM and its accounting program are dually accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. This dual accreditation is the highest form of accreditation given to business schools, being achieved by just 170 schools worldwide, and SOM is the only business school in Alaska with this distinction. The MBA program enrollments are at record levels having increased by 200 percent over the past three years.    The School of Management currently houses 80 students in its two masters programs (MBA and MS Economics). MBA students not only learn in the classroom but build business plans for Fairbanks businesses and host the widely successful Arctic Innovation Competition, which this past year had more than 200 entrants from around the world.  

Thursday, April 1, 2010 -- Alaska Climate Science Center


Why was UAA, rather than UAF, selected for this climate research specific award?  Was UAF even considered, had UAF applied, etc?


UAF has been selected to serve as host for the Alaska Climate Science Center. There has been some public confusion about this because the center is slated to be located in Anchorage. Our initial design for the center is currently being vetted by the Department of Interior. The center will, of course, collaborate with scientists throughout Alaska and the circumpolar north, including those at UAA and our rural campuses. The center will, however, be part of UAF.

Thursday, April 1, 2010 -- Earth Day activities on campus


Earth Day is in less than a month. Does UAF have anything planned?


The Earth Day Fair, hosted by the Sustainable Campus Task Force, takes place Saturday, April 24, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on the Lola Tilly Commons upper deck. There will be activities for all ages, informational booths, live music and free food. For more information e-mail sctfuaf@gmail.com.


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