August 2010

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 -- Really Free Market

SUGGESTION

There have been two 'really free markets' this summer, and they seem like a great idea and a great service to the community. However, both times the student community was not included because they were held in the summer, when most of the student population is gone. I think it would be great for students if the university would adjust the dates of the markets to correspond with the first and last weekends of the academic year, so students can take advantage of free wares when they are moving into their doorms and apartments, and can get rid of wares when they are moving out.

RESPONSE

Thank you for your feedback. We're discussing the schedule for next year and add this to our list of things we'd like to consider.

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 -- Georgeson Botanical Garden

QUESTION

I read on Facebook that the Georgeson Botanical Garden is going to close after next summer. Is this true?

RESPONSE

According to Carol Lewis, dean and director of SNRAS/AFES, Georgeson Botanical Garden will definitely remain open. The dean responded quickly to recent misinformation on social media. The dean's response is available online.

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 -- Microsoft software licensing for students

QUESTION

I was recently told by OIT that under a new Microsoft site license student employees cannot install MS Office on a personal computer, while non-student employees can. Is this true? Has this always been true? If not, why the change?

RESPONSE

From Karl Kowalski, OIT director of user services

This is true. We do not provide MS Office software to student employees or student non-employees. This is not a change from past years. Our license agreement does not cover distribution of software to students and while some may argue that some student individuals are employees, their primary role is student in a student job. However, there are often educational versions of software available to students at a discount. 

UAF has looked into licensing the Microsoft products for students, but the cost was prohibitive. UAA has a consistent policy. 

UPDATE: Courtesy of one of our Grapevine readers

There is an alternative to MS-Office software, which is free and 100 percent compatible: the Open Office program suite. It is an open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. See www.openoffice.org for details and to download.

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010 -- Convocation 2010

QUESTION

When is convocation?

RESPONSE

This year's fall convocation is Thursday, Sept. 9 from 1 - 2 p.m. in the Charles Davis Concert Hall. An ice cream social in the Great Hall will follow the event. Ice cream will also be served at UAF's rural campuses. A webcast of convocation will be available for those who can't make it in person. 

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010 -- Disturbing image online

QUESTION 

What is the rather disturbing image that is being used as a header on the www.alaska.edu/active/search/index.xml page?  Is there really a giant fissure on the south side of Butrovich that is outgassing toxic fumes that are being investigated by the folks in the hazmat suits?

RESPONSE

From Kate Wattum, UA web developer

Thank you for noticing.

My idea was to coordinate the images to reflect the look and feel of popular video games and movies that resonate with the target audience, which is future and current students, between the ages of 16 and 30. The  background reflect the newsprint colorization of the 1940s, with a weather-worn feel around the perimeter (ie, rusted edges, rusted nailheads). I've dropped in cutouts of current pictures to base the images in the present. The wording is geared toward the future. The images are edgy and get your attention. They convey the spirit that whatever the future has in store, the University of Alaska will continue to be a vibrant institution for Alaska's leaders, thinkers, artists, teachers, scientists and writers, adventurers and others.

The new graphic images appear on these pages:
http://www.alaska.edu/ - UA main page
http://www.alaska.edu/active/about-ua/ - about UA
http://www.alaska.edu/active/administration/ -administration
http://www.alaska.edu/active/copyright-issues/ - copyright issues
http://www.alaska.edu/active/news-sources/ - news sources
http://www.alaska.edu/active/on-line-services/ - online services
http://www.alaska.edu/active/prospective-students/ - future students
http://www.alaska.edu/active/search/ - search

Additional pages may be updated with the new design as well.

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010 -- Parking and transportation accommodations

QUESTION 

Considering the recent and continuing increase in parking fees on campus, is the university willing to allow staff to come to late work, due to using public transportation? Or will the university expect staff to come early and leave late when using public transportation that does not coincide with working hours. When students and the public come to campus it's an optional choice, but for staff and faculty, it's not.  I find it absolutely insulting for employees to be charged to park (or to drive to work).  I suggest that the university provide a refund or stipend for staff that have to drive to get to work (not on a public transportation route).

RESPONSE

There are many offices on campus that can offer some flexibility in hours and staffing, but not all will be able to do so. An employee who would like to change their schedule should discuss options with their supervisor.

Keep in mind the benefit provided by UAF allowing staff and students to ride the Fairbanks North Star Borough Bus at no charge. Not only can UAF employees ride the bus to and from work, but also they can ride the borough bus throughout the entire borough bus system.

In addition to providing sustainable transportation, this program helps to free-up parking spaces on campus. 

Residents who are not on a bus route may want to contact the borough about developing a park and ride location. 

Monday, Aug. 16, 2010 -- Classes listed in the 2010-2011 catalog

QUESTION 

Why are there so many classes being offered in the Fall schedule that are not listed in the new 2010-2011 catalog?

RESPONSE

Departments have the ability to offer 'special topics' courses which are not in the catalog but give students additional options to earn elective credits or to take classes of particular interest to them.  In other cases, new courses which are approved by Faculty Senate late in the spring semester may not be documented in time for the catalog's production timeline.  We moved the release date for this year's catalog out by one month in an attempt to minimize changes or additions.  An addendum to the 2010-11 catalog will be published online.

Friday, Aug. 13, 2010 -- Soft closure

QUESTION 

Do we know if there will be a campuswide soft closure again this year in the week leading up to the winter holiday break? Knowing sooner, rather than later, will help us as we determine staff time off over the next year. Thanks!

RESPONSE

From Kris Racina, UAF Human Resources

It is likely that we will again have a soft closure close to holiday break as we did last year. The dates, tentatively Dec. 20-22, will be discussed in Chancellor's Cabinet and released soon. 

 

Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010 -- University timesheets

QUESTION 

I have never worked with an institution that required time cards be submitted [before] putting in the hours being claimed. I would be surprised if costs could not be cut if this process were changed so that employees submitted timesheets after working the hours. This would eliminate all of the amendments that are now being submitted to deal with unexpected absences from work.  What is keeping the university from changing this process?

RESPONSE

From Kris Racina, UAF Human Resources

The university is working toward electronic timesheets to eliminate paper and increase efficiency in processing timesheets. Because this is a systemwide change, it is a slow process to identify all the needed components, logistics, research software capabilities and identify an electronic process.  Our Statewide Office of Human Resources is leading this effort. Once electronic timesheets are in place, we hope to eliminate many of the issues you raise. The estimated completion date has not yet been announced.

Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 -- Cable programming for the family

QUESTION 

Since campus housing changed its cable package last fall, everal of the channels being shown are on an East Coast schedule. This means that during alaskan evenings materials is shown on several cable channels that are not suitable to family viewing (especially in commercial breaks). Would it be possible to ensure that all channels at the very least are set to California time? 

RESPONSE

Under the current contract, the satellite provider is linking from an East Coast feed, however, CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX are broadcasts from local providers and offer programming on Alaska time. KUAC is another option, offering on channels 9.1, 9.2 and 9.3, for family-oriented programming.   KUAC includes  AlaskaOne, WORLD, and CREATE.

Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 -- Watering the lawns

QUESTION 

Why are lawns around campus watered daily, even if it rained the previous night?  The lawn close to the building where I work has sprinklers continuously going almost every day!  How much does the university spend to water lawns?

RESPONSE

The amount of water being absorbed into the soils varies based on a number of factors including temperature and precipitation. Sometimes the best time to water the lawns and gain the most absorption of the water into the soils is during times of overcast skies or light rain days. If it has been raining for a few days as a system has moved into the area and raises the humidity levels as it drops continual rain, we do not need to water. Facilities Services staff does pay close attention to the watering and how much water is being absorbed into the turf, but occasionally the grounds crew may overlook a sprinkler that should be turned off.

We are working on a program of installing water flow meters that will allow us to track the water usage and cost.

If you notice a sprinkler on and question whether it needs to be, please call Facilities Services at 474-7000.

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