March 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010 -- PERS and TERS retirement fair

SUGGESTION

UAF employees have been notified of the State of Alaska PERS & TERS Retirement & Benefits Fair on April 8, 9, & 10. The state is allowing their employees to attend this fair on work time, but UAF is not allowing their employee to attend on work time. See the State of Alaska website at: 
http://doa.alaska.gov/drb/reps/soa_employee_leave_for_seminars.html

This is a good way to inform UAF employees of the UAF retirement system. UAF does not provide such information on a regular basis, nor should it since it is a State of Alaska retirement program. UAF employees should be allowed to attend this informational fair on work time since it is also a UAF retirement program.


Thursday, March 25, 2010 -- UAF's engineering programs

CEM Student enrollment graph
CEM student enrollment

QUESTION

There's a rumor that UAF's engineering department was going to be downsized, or that UA would otherwise be shifting engineering resources to Anchorage. Is this true?

RESPONSE

The engineering programs within the College of Engineering and Mines at UAF are expanding quickly, with enrollment increasing at a rate of nearly 20 percent per year.  CEM has recently added two new academic programs in the college and has no plans to downsize or reduce engineering programs at the UAF campus. In addition, research funding in the Institute of Northern Engineering has nearly tripled in the past five years and continues to expand in areas critical to the state, including energy, climate and infrastructure.

Thursday, March 25, 2010 -- Employee use of the SRC

QUESTION

Why are staff and faculty required to pay to use the SRC?  I would think, based on high costs of medical insurance, that those who choose to use the facilty should be encouraged and even rewarded for their efforts to stay healthy. The cost is prohibitive, at least on my UAF salary.

RESPONSE

Part of the answer to your question lies in the history of the building. UAF students voted in fall 1990 to fund the construction and maintenance of the Student Rec Center through an increase in student fees. Construction of the $5.5 million Student Recreation Center began in September 1992 and the center, adjacent to the Ernest N. Patty Center, opened in March 1994.  Students currently pay $75 per semester.

The facility, conveniently located on the Fairbanks campus, provides space for intramural sports and fitness memberships for UAF faculty, staff, alumni and the general public. The SRC is home to the Let’s Include Fitness Everyday (L.I.F.E.) program, a wellness program for UAF faculty, students and staff, which offers a discounted membership for staff and faculty who wish to attend the facility during specific and somewhat limited hours. More information on that program is available online http://www.uaf.edu/uaflife/index.html.

The SRC board sets the employee rate, which has increased once since the SRC opened in 1994.

You might also be interested to know that the WIN program is offering a $100 reimbursement to any faculty/staff with a purchased health club membership. More information is available online at http://www.winforalaska.com/uahealthinaction/home.html.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 -- Holiday lights and energy usage

SUGGESTION

I would like to suggest that the Christmas lights be unplugged to save energy.  I am only aware of those where I park each day (WRRB), but there may be others.

RESPONSE

Thank you for your suggestion. The holiday lights used in several areas on campus are LED decorative lights. These lights have been placed on campus at the request of many students, staff and faculty to light up the campus during our long winter months. Because they are LEDs, the actual cost is pennies a day, and they require no maintenance, such as replacing the lamps. The lights are removed in early spring and placed up again during the fall months.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 -- Automated speed signs

QUESTION

Will facilities be changing/fixing the automated speed limit signs to full electric power?

RESPONSE

The newly installed solar power speed signs will remain 100 percent solar due to the expense of running long distances of electrical wire to each sign. As solar systems improve the signs may be able to sustain power all year long. The sign were disconnected this winter when the batteries were removed, but will be rewired for solar soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 -- SRC membership question

QUESTION

I am currently a faculty member and a full time graduate student at UAF. As a grad student taking nine credits I was required to pay the $75 SRC fee. When I went to the SRC to get my family signed up (for $12 each, as family members of a student) I was told that my faculty status trumps my student status, and that *I* could get into the SRC with my fee, but that the only way for my family to go was by paying the faculty family fee ($230 for the semester). I was also informed that if my spouse, who does not work at UAF, used his free tuition credit to take a class and paid the $75 fee, he could get himself and our kids into the SRC at the low "family member of a student" fee, but that I cannot. Having paid the $75 SRC fee, and an additional nearly $2000 in tuition and fees for classes this semester, how is this logical? If someone has paid to be a full time student, shouldn't they receive the benefits that every other full time student receives? Who makes these policies?

RESPONSE

The following policy, developed by Ruth Olsen, SRC coordinator and Amanda Wall in UAF's Business Office was developed last spring. It took effect May 1, 2009.

Faculty and staff members taking 3 or more credits and purchase the $75 student SRC pass at the Business Office may NOT add dependents to their student memberships unless they purchase a faculty/staff family membership at the SRC.

Dependents of faculty and staff taking 3 or more credits and purchase the $75 student SRC pass at the Business Office may NOT add a faculty or staff member to their student membership.    Faculty/staff family memberships are available for purchase at the SRC.

Please contact Ruth Olsen at ruth.olsen@alaska.edu for further clarification if needed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 -- Employee addresses and the union

QUESTION

I realize that as a classified employee of UAF that I am part of a public institution, but would like to know at what level the decision was made to provide home addresses to union organizers, who else can get that information and what the justification for that decision is?

RESPONSE

As a public employer, the university is required to comply with requests for certain types of employee information when union organizing efforts are underway. In Alaska, the Public Employment Relations Act and related regulations govern union organizing activities for public employers and their employees. In releasing employees mailing addresses during the current union organizing effort, the university followed guidance received in the past from the Alaska Labor Relations Agency concerning the need to provide contact information and mailing addresses to unions who are involved in organizing activities. 

More information about this issue, PERA and the Alaska Labor Relations Agency is available under the Frequently Asked Questions link on the UA Labor and Employee Relations website

Monday, March 8, 2010 -- Shuttle schedules need updating

SUGGESTION

Transportation services should update, or at the least take down, all outdated campus bus schedule information in the Wood Center bus shelter, DTC, TVC, and any other places they've posted information that is now incorrect. For example, the Wood Center bus shelter still displays information saying the Campus Shuttle departs Wood Center every 45 minutes for a TVC DTC run between 4:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

RESPONSE

Transportation Services continually looks for ways to communicate the route and schedule changes each semester. In order to reach as many of our users as possible, we have implemented alternative advertising such as a Facebook, a new web page and our Shuttle Tracker system.   

On those occasions when we do have updates, certain locations are sometimes be overlooked.  As of March 8, all Bus Shelter information boards have been updated with current information. 

Call 474-RIDE (7433) to request a ride or for more information, or send an e-mail to uafshuttles@fs.uaf.edu.

Thursday, March 4, 2010 -- Full-spectrum lighting on campus

QUESTION

I heard all of the long fluorescent bulbs in all of the buildings and offices on campus are full-spectrum lights, is this true?

RESPONSE

No. While there may be instances where departments have installed full-spectrum bulbs, the standard light bulb installed by Facilities Services has a light temperature of 4,100 degrees Kelvin, which is below the 5,000 degrees that is generally thought of as full spectrum.

Thursday, March 4, 2010 -- McTaggart report recommendations

QUESTION

Before staff or faculty are laid off or forced to take leave, will the MacTaggart report's recommendation that there be fewer vice chancellors be implemented, or has the administration decided not to act on that recommendation?

RESPONSE

From Bob Shefchik, Executive Officer

The number and cost of central administration are continually reviewed at UAF. The three-year timeline for administrative reductions and reallocations in the MacTaggart report (pdf) is also the target for the recommendation on the number of vice chancellors. There was an intentional delay of six months in hiring a replacement for Vice Chancellor Barnett.  This effectively reduced by .5 FTE the number of vice chancellors for the current fiscal year.  

Departmental or unit-based budget shortfalls will continue to be dealt with at the unit level. Managers are expected to make the decisions necessary to balance their budgets. This means that, despite all efforts to the contrary, lay-offs or contract reductions will continue to be possible when departmental expenses exceed expected revenues. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010 -- Vice chancellor for research

QUESTION

Is Buck Sharpton leaving UAF? 

RESPONSE

No.  Buck Sharpton notified Chancellor Rogers last fall of his desire to dedicate more of his effort to research and research projects.  Buck will continue to play a role in interdisciplinary research programs and pursue research opportunities in planetary science and remote sensing.  

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