January 2010

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 -- Library cutting back on purchasing materials

QUESTION

I've heard that the library is no longer purchasing books and journals (paper or electronic) due to budget problems, and that the librarians had around $50,000 taken away from them to buy materials. Is this true? If so, how am I supposed to support my students with library resources?

RESPONSE

From James  Huesmann, Dean of Libraries

Yes, it is true that we have essentially frozen library materials purchases for the remainder of the fiscal year. This means that we will not be buying any new books or videos for the remainder of the fiscal year. Current journal and database subscriptions are not affected, because we pay for those a year at a time. New requests are going into a wish-list file until June when the new fiscal year starts.

For years, UAF received an inflationary adjustment of about 3-4 percent annually from the Alaska Legislature for purchasing library materials. Books and journals lately averaged increases of about 8 percent a year. While past inflationary adjustments did not keep up with increased cost of materials, we managed to selectively cut less-used items and concentrate our purchases on more heavily-used titles, as well as purchasing items among consortia and a variety of other cost-saving measures. For the last two years, the library hasn’t received an inflationary adjustment. Thus, this year’s budget for books, journals, electronic databases, and videos remained the same as last year’s, which meant buying fewer items.

The focus over the past few years on responding to student and faculty needs has resulted in UAF acquiring the most heavily used materials, particularly in science, engineering and technology. This means that spending the same amount of money is resulting in more use of library materials – in short, more bang for the buck.

If there are library materials that you need to support your students with in the next few months, the libraries will be happy to get them via Interlibrary Loan and work with you to put them on reserves, either in paper form or on Electronic Reserves.

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 -- Life sciences and greenhouse relocation plans

QUESTION

What will become of the West Ridge Greenhouse on North Koyukuk Drive if the Life Sciences Facility is built?

RESPONSE

From Cameron Wohlford, Facilities Services 

The West Ridge Greenhouse currently provides space for natural resource management classes on plant science through the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. Due to the approved site of the new Life Sciences Facliity, the greenhouse will be dismantled as part of the construction project.

Sufficient funding is identified in the funding request for Life Sciences Classroom and Lab Facility project to cover the cost to construct a modern and appropriately sized replacement building. UAF has selected a site south of the Arctic Health Research Building. We anticipate the project, if funded through the Life Sciences request, will move forward in 2010 with the goal of a summer or early fall completion. The university may need to use other greenhouse space on campus for a month or two before the new one is completed.

Additionally: 

- The UAF Master Planning Committee has approved the future site for the greenhouse.

- A user group from the School of Natural Resources has been identified and up to the beginning of the year, was active in working on the design. The group will get back together as soon as funding is available.

- Currently, within the renovation of the old Animal Quarters at AHRB, UAF has begun constructing the head house, greenhouse manager’s office, soil preparation room, seed-sorting room, soil storage room and a chemical storage room. This construction represents about a $1 million value. This space will be completed by June 2010. 

- The current renovation project has also upgraded the heating system in the building and electrical system in support of the future greenhouse.

- A full design has been completed for a new road that will serve the head house and greenhouse

- A design-build contract will be issued as soon as funding is available to procure and install the greenhouse. It’s expected that the design-build model, will allow UAF to get the most greenhouse, with the appropriate controls, ventilation, lighting, etc, for the lowest price and in  the shortest  schedule.

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 -- Soft closure savings

QUESTION

How much money did the university actually save from the soft closure held prior to the holiday closure?

RESPONSE

UAF saved more than $80,000 for the soft closure, which included approximately $7,500 in energy savings and $76,000 in leave without pay.  Employees also took about $243,000 more annual leave this year than they did last year during the same time period. We won’t know for sure what the annual leave savings are until the end of the fiscal year. Throughout the year, UAF pays into a bank at statewide for annual leave. When an employee takes annual leave, that money comes out of those funds, rather than the department's budget. In that way, when UAF employees take annual leave, it helps the budget at the department level. There may also be some savings as a result of student and temporary employees' reduced hours.

In addition to salary savings, the university saves money on benefits expenses when employees take leave. The initial estimate for soft closure savings was in excess of $500,000. We will have to wait until the end of the fiscal year to know for sure, but if people end up using annual leave at their usual rate for the rest of the fiscal year, that total may be realized.

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 -- Parking Office move

QUESTION

Why is parking moving from Eielson down to the facilities building? It doesn't seem like a very student friendly move and goes completely against the one stop model we've been trying to develop over here. The rumor is that HAZMAT is going into it's place. Can some explain the logic?

RESPONSE

It's true that the Parking office now located in the Eielson Building will be moving to the Facilities Services Building. The reason is that it’s much more efficient for Parking Services to operate out of one location. However, the move also represents a move to an online system. The new system allows permits to be purchased online, tickets can be appealed or paid online. Users can also see their history, update their vehicle information, and be added to a list for gold lots. This change allows students to take care of their parking permits when it’s convenient for them.

Parking services has also added online chat service so students, staff and faculty can instantly chat with parking services personnel during business hours.

During fee payment there will be Parking Services personnel on hand in the PolarExpress office as demand warrants. We also expect to use PolarExpress and the Tanana Valley Campus Center as alternative permit pick-up points. Students also have the option under the new online system to choose to receive their permits in the mail, which wasn’t the case before.

We realize that people won't make the change instantly to the online system, but feel that in the long run this change will be more convenient for students.

Please feel free to e-mail Parking Services at fypark@uaf.edu or submit your question via chat online.

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 -- The future of the Discovery Lab

QUESTION

I heard that the Discovery Lab may be shut down because the university will not fund it (or help to fund it).

   a) Is this true?
   b) If it is true, I'll be disappointed. The Discovery Lab offers cutting edge technology. It is a melting pot for cross-disciplines (e.g. art, theater, entomology, computing), and it's a popular tourist attraction. 

I know money is tight, but the Discovery Lab is an important and exciting part of campus. It would be a shame for it to close.

RESPONSE

Yes, it is true that the Discovery Lab may be shutting down. It has proven to be a popular venue for educational and public outreach tours, as well as collaborative dance, theatre and music performances, however, the priorities for the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center are being realigned to support the academic computational and storage systems needed by university researchers, particularly in the area of climate change. Given the costs of keeping the Discovery Lab fully functional while supporting the ongoing operation of academic supercomputing, tough decisions on how best to use limited dollars will have to be made."

Input from the UAF community and the public is welcome and timely as options for the future of the Discovery Laboratory are just beginning to be explored. Please send comments to Frank Williams, ARSC director. 

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 -- Single room availability for students

QUESTION

How hard is it to get a single student room at the UAF dorms? And if it is, how would one go about the process to get one?

RESPONSE

Single rooms are limited on campus, comprising only 20 percent of more than 900 rooms available for single students. In addition to the rooms on campus designed for only one student, we use some double rooms as singles when the demand for beds permits us to do so.

Single rooms outside of the freshmen halls are generally assigned during the room selection process in April each year. This is the process by which existing residents select their rooms for the following year. Residents make their choices in order of seniority, making it difficult for new residents to get a single space.  When a single room is unavailable then the student can be placed on a wait list until one becomes available.

The freshmen single rooms are awarded on a first come, first served basis making early application important to the process.

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