May 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010 -- Lights on in the Butrovich Building

SUGGESTION

Why are the lights on in the Butrovich Building at all times?  Wouldn't it make more sense to turn them off?  

RESPONSE

There will always be some lights on in the Butrovich Building, partly for security purposes. Employees access the building beyond the 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. work day. Looking up from West Tanana Drive and Tanana Loop, even a few lights on gives the impression the entire building is lit up. Over the years, the older lighting systems have been replaced with modern energy efficient systems. You can expect that the current systems will be replaced with even more efficient systems as they become available. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 -- Dress code for employees

SUGGESTION

Is it true that supervisors cannot set a dress code for their departments? Is there anything in university policy that specifically addresses dress codes in any way?

RESPONSE

We don't have a dress code policy or regulation. However, nothing prohibits a supervisor from defining their expectations for dress as long as it is reasonable and somewhat job related. 

 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 -- Health clinic on campus

QUESTION

Has the university ever considered adding a "PA Clinic" option to our health care like the school district does? Instead of going to a doctor, you go to the PA Clinic (now run out of the Urgent Care Center for the School District), the patient pays $20 out of pocket and this includes the visit and any lab or x-ray work.

RESPONSE

Yes, the University of Alaska has looked into this sort of arrangement.

While the PA clinic’s co-pay may look attractive from an employee’s perspective, it doesn’t begin to cover the cost of the service. The Fairbanks North Star Borough and the school district have agreed to pay Fairbanks Urgent Care nearly $1 million a year for this service and that does not include any lab tests performed during the patient visit.

While an interesting idea, the university questions if our Fairbanks employees would use a PA clinic at a level where the plan would break even.

 

Monday, May 24, 2010 -- UAF built electric ATV

SUGGESTION

I see that the latest campus electric vehicle project is a shuttle bus. How is the UAF built electric ATV that the police department got working out?

RESPONSE

UAF mechanical engineering students converted an ATV as part  of Wintermester. They showcased the prototype at the Sustainable Campus Task Force's earth day event and the Rural Energy Conference. They continue to run tests on it. Meanwhile, there have been discussions about using a surplus shuttle bus as part of a similar class project.

The ATV conversion was covered in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Monday, May 24, 2010 -- Retirement incentive program

QUESTION

I heard plans may be brewing for a retirement incentive program to help cut staff costs. Is that true and if so, when would it take effect?

RESPONSE

A retirement incentive program, as implemented in the past, would have to be a systemwide initiative and approved by the State of Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits. UAF is not exploring this option.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 -- Suggestion for Residence Life

SUGGESTION

As the parent of a future student at UAF, I wanted to know if a student could leave their belongings in their dorm room while on winter break.  Well, apparently the answer is "yes," but the only place I could find that information was in the Grapevine archives.

I would like to suggest that the information about being able to leave personal belongings in one's dorm room over winter break be included in the Residence Life Handbook as well as on page two of the actual agreement that we sign.

RESPONSE

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  We will make the policy better known through changes in our publications in the future.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 -- Commencement robes

QUESTION

Will UAF ever change to blue robes (or at least blue & gold tassels) for graduation? It really would look so much better. For a school with as much spirit as we have, colored tassels at the least would add a little visual interest.

RESPONSE

In order for sashes and honors cords to stand out, we've stayed with the traditional black robe. We will be looking into colored tassels in the future.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 -- Chancellor's staff

QUESTION

I heard a rumor that the UAF Chancellor is adding another position ("Chief of Staff") - is this true, and if so: what will their duties be and where is the funding for this position coming from?

RESPONSE

There are no plans to hire a chief of staff or other position in the Chancellor's Office at this time. Given current budget scenarios, any changes to the administration would need to be made with an eye toward efficiencies and alignments to reduce, rather than increase, costs.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 -- Disc golf baskets at the Reichardt Building

QUESTION

What are the circular metal cage-like installations with yellow tops that have been installed on either side of the Reichardt Building?

RESPONSE

From Mark Oldmixon, Outdoor Adventures

They are baskets for the university's new 18-hole disc golf course. The basket in the woods to the East of the Reichardt Building is hole number 10. There are three holes, (11-13) in the field between Reichardt Building and the museum. From there the course crosses the street to the field in front of the Butrovich Building, to finish out the 18 hole course. The start of each hole is marked with a wooden post and attached blue sign with designated hole number and sponsor. Each hole was sponsored by a different department or office here at UAF.

Discs are available for rent at Outdoor Adventures and Wood Center Front Desk. A course map and scorecard can be found at www.uaf.edu/outdoor. The SRC will be hosting a disc golf intramural league this summer during each Summer Session.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to call Outdoor Adventures at 907-474-6027.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 -- Reindeer research

QUESTION

Since every year there are several new reindeer babies born at UAF, what happens to the old reindeer? Do they keep every one of them? Do some die? Do they farm them out to other folks?

RESPONSE

The reindeer in the Reindeer Research Program at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm are part of meat science, range management, nutrition and animal health studies. Some reindeer are slaughtered as part of the meat science research. Some are kept for breeding purposes. The herd is maintained at about 80 animals. Fifteen calves have been born so far this spring. The program is dedicated to the development and promotion of the reindeer industry on the Seward Peninsula and throughout Alaska. Researchers at UAF work closely with producers to develop and conduct research projects that can be applied directly to their operations. 

The Institute of Arctic Biology Large Animal Research Station maintains colonies of muskoxen, caribou and reindeer for research on ecology, physiology, nutrition, reproduction, growth and behavior. The average lifespan of our animals is longer than those in the wild because they are kept fed, treated for disease and protected from injury and predation. The very young and the very old animals are most vulnerable to disease and injury as are some of the male reindeer and caribou during the breeding season, which is particularly stressful for males. Some animals are also euthanized for research and teaching when there are sufficient numbers in the colony. LARS cannot sell reindeer or caribou but is able to sell muskoxen when the animals are not required to maintain the breeding population. LARS currently has 40 muskoxen, 49 caribou and 52 reindeer (including 11 reindeer calves). Reindeer had their calves in March-April, muskoxen are having calves right now and caribou usually calve from mid May to early June.

The public is encouraged to come out and see the calves and learn about the science surrounding Alaska's iconic mammals at LARS' annual spring open house on May 22 from noon to 4 p.m. LARS opens for the summer May 24, 2010. For more information visit http://lars.iab.uaf.edu/index.php.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 -- Bookstore changes

QUESTION

I have heard that UAF is currently negotiating with the same private company that provides the online textbooks for UAF, to take over all operations of the campus bookstore. Is this true? If so, when do you hope for this to happen, and when will students be informed about the change?

RESPONSE

From Pat Pitney, vice chancellor for administrative services

Follett Bookstores will be taking over complete management of the UAF Bookstore prior to the fall semester. This partnership, which is an expansion of our current contract with Follett, will bring about many positive changes for bookstore users, to include bringing textbooks back to campus and new services such as a textbook rental program. Customers will also see an enhanced online store and a bigger selection of UAF logo merchandise.

Our decision to partner with Follett is in line with other models at universities around the country. The rapidly changing campus bookstore market, including the growth of web-based operations, has forced universities of all sizes to partner with private companies for campus bookstore operations.

We're confident this decision is the right choice for UAF. This fall, students and faculty members will return to campus to find a bookstore that will offer broader services to our campus community.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 -- Healthcare costs

QUESTION

In reviewing the information on the employee health plan it appears that the cost of the health plan for employees with families is the same regardless of the number of children being insured under the family plan. Is this the case? If this is indeed the case, have plan administrators considered moving to a payment structure which would reflect family size? Also, if this is the case, are there statistics available as to the average number of children included in these family plans? 

RESPONSE

From Mike Humphrey, UA director of benefits

If you elect family coverage, it’s for the entire family; you, your spouse or FIP and children. Most employers across the nation establish employee charges this way. The thinking is just because you have a large family, does not mean you always have large medical expenses.

In response to national health reform, the university will be looking at how employee charges are determined and other ways of setting charges.

The current enrollment on the university’s health plan is approximately 4,300 employees, 2,500 spouses and 3,100 children. However, the average claims costs for a child under the age of 19 is less than $200 per month, the average cost of a 45 to 49 year old is $420 per month and a 55 to 59 year old about $550 per month. It’s clear that children are not driving much of the health plan’s costs, but we will be looking at the impact of increasing the maximum age to 26 and eliminating the requirement of being a full-time student. It’s possible that this change, due to the recent health care reform legislation, will require a change in how the university charges for dependent coverage.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 -- Bike trail question

QUESTION

With all of the new signage, I have started becoming a bit nervous about using the bike shortcut across the field in front of the farm.  Are bicycles/pedestrians allowed to use the dirt read that crosses the railroad tracks and then cuts across the field (and ends at the on-ramp to the highway)?

RESPONSE 

There is no public access to cross the tracks in that location. Pedestrians and bikers should use the paved bike trails and official cross walks along Geist Rd. and Thompson Dr. to access campus. A summer trails map (pdf) is available for your information. 

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