March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 -- Recycling on campus

QUESTION

Does the university pay for any of the recycling efforts on campus?  Are we paying to have any of the recycled materials transported to Anchorage, etc?

RESPONSE

Computer monitors are recycled through Total Reclaim in Anchorage. Total Reclaim currently charges 35 cents per pound for Computer monitors/Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT's) delivered to Anchorage.

Mixed paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminum is recycled through K&K Recycling in Fairbanks. There is no charge for drop off but UAF is responsible for individual containers around campus, dumpsters and transportation cost to K&K Inc.

Saturday, March 26, 2011 -- Fundraising for community groups

QUESTION

I just received an email from Chancellor Rogers asking for all of us to support the university's efforts in raising $40,000 for the American Heart Association. In the fall we are asked to support the United Way Campaign.

While both of these are great causes there are many other groups that could use our support. Can you please tell me who decides what community groups the university will actively support and raise money for? Is there is system in place that allows university employees to suggest the groups the university should support?

RESPONSE

Chancellor Rogers has made it a priority to raise funds for two community group efforts: The United Way Campaign in the fall and the American Heart Association efforts in the spring. These groups have been supported by UAF for years because of their tradition and because university leadership has been actively involved in both their organizational efforts.  

Though the chancellor would very much like to devote resources to help raise funds for every worthwhile community effort, this simply is not realistic or feasible. We believe better outcomes will result from focusing on two to three community group efforts. That being said, employees are more than welcome to suggest other groups that the university may want to support by simply emailing the Chancellor's Office at uaf.chancellor@alaska.edu.

Friday, March 25, 2011 -- Tabacco surcharge

QUESTION

Is it true that the smoking surcharge added to UA health care may not go into affect this summer leaving those that don't smoke to foot the bill for the documented higher health care costs of smokers?

The Joint Health Care Committee recommended the university take more time in developing and marketing effective tobacco cessation programs for employees before a surcharge, or an additional cost, is charged when employees or their dependents on the plan use tobacco. Once cessation programs are selected, they will be available at no cost to employees.

RESPONSE

From Mike Humphrey, UA Statewide Human Resources

The UA administration agrees with this approach. As such, UA will delay the tobacco use surcharge until FY13, or starting July 1, 2012 (instead of July 1, 2011). More information concerning tobacco cessation programs will be widely distributed when it becomes available.

The loss of the recovery for the tobacco surcharge may need to be accounted for in future employee charges.  However, if UA employees and dependents can successfully be encouraged to participate in tobacco cessation programs, it will help our health care plan.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 -- Fisher report draft

QUESTION

I understand that the Fisher Report was made available in draft form to President Gamble and then revised according to his response. I understand there may be reporters requesting this via FOIA, but can you just tell us: is this true? And if so, how is this an "independent" evaluation?

RESPONSE

From Kate Ripley, UA Statewide Public Affairs

Draft reports to government entities are nearly always made available to a select group of reviewers first, prior to finalization and wide release. This is done not only at the university but within all levels of government, both within and outside Alaska. Even financial and legislative audits provide for the entity under audit to have an opportunity to review drafts in advance of broad release. Drafts at this stage are considered privileged, pre-decisional and deliberative process documents. As such, they are not public documents under the state’s public records act.

The Fisher report is still “independent” because it wasn’t developed or directed by the university. Having fresh, critical eyes review an institution from time to time, especially a consultant who has reviewed many   other institutions of higher education, helps illuminate strengths and weaknesses. The university is thankful to the Rasmuson Foundation for providing funding for this review. It will be helpful for President Gamble and all key stakeholders in the upcoming strategic planning process for the UA System.  

As you indicated, the Sun Star requested a draft of the Fisher Report under the Alaska Public Records Act. That request was denied based on advice from the university’s attorney that the draft document was considered privileged, pre-decisional and a deliberative process document.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 -- Career ladder and layoff lists

QUESTION

How should departments handle career ladder promotions in light of the lay off list?  Before we can get as far as posting and including web posting text stating it is a promotional opportunity for internal candidates only, we are being asked to review the lay off pool and justify why those candidates cannot be hired.

SUGGESTION

From Kris Racina, UAF Human Resources

If I understand the question correctly, the department wishes to promote an employee to a higher position. The university supports promotional placements of qualified existing employees under BOR Policy 04.03.030. HR reviews whether the promoted individual was originally hired by competitive recruitment as a condition to the promotional direct appointment, and requires that the vacated position be back filled through a competitive recruitment At the time the vacated position is open, HR requires the hiring authority to first review the layoff list for qualified individuals, and will allow a direct placement of a layoff employee to backfill position(s) vacated due to promotion.

There may be unique circumstances in every situation that require review and you should contact your HR Consultant for assistance. If you have received information contrary to this response, please contact Brad Lobland or Kris Racina to discuss your specific situation so we can better understand any unique circumstances you are facing.

P04.03.030. Special Recruitment Categories
Categories and standardized procedures for alternative methods of recruitment will be established by university regulation. The university encourages promotional opportunities for existing employees.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 -- Exterior temperature gauges

SUGGESTION

How about having exterior temperature gauges attached outside some (not all) buildings, so when students, faculty, staff leave they can read them and be prepared for inclement/cold weather when leaving the buildings? This will cut on health care costs and prevent accidents.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 -- Trail crossing signs on the Range road

QUESTION

Why are the six Trail Crossing signs on the Range road 12 feet high?

RESPONSE

From Darrin Edson,Facilities Services

When we purchase the sign posts, they come in the length required to install them into the ground. In this case we needed to place the signs on temporary bases. As this road has limited use in the winter months, we left the post full length until the ground thaws and we can install them properly.
 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 -- Recycling steel cans

QUESTION

Why can't the university recycle site take steel cans? I've taken mine to K&K in the past. I always washed and flattened them. I didn't get money for them like with aluminum, but they always took them for me. Were they just humoring me?

I think the recycling we are doing is great, but if steel cans were included, I wouldn't have much garbage at all.

RESPONSE

From Michele Hebert, Office of Sustainability
 
We are hoping to include steel in the future but do not have the dumpsters yet. Thanks you for your interest in recycling and zero waste.

For more informaiton on recycling at UAF, visit http://www.uaf.edu/sustainability/getinvolved/recycle/.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 -- Student Services supervisors

QUESTION

It is my understanding that some supervisors within student services that have received extremely poor feedback on supervisor reviews. In addition, former employees have written letters of discontent after leaving the department to have put on file with HR. Who is the watching over the people in power?  I have heard extremely unethical and disheartening news from numerous sources. If HR is involved, and dept heads are aware - why does it seem that the all the poor feedback goes unnoticed?      

RESPONSE

From Kris Racina, Human Resources
 

The UAF chancellor emphasizes performance management and accountability for all employees, including supervisors. Most performance management issues are handled between employee and supervisor and others in the department or University at large will be unaware of specific efforts. When employees bring concerns to HR, those concerns are raised to the attention of the responsible supervisor or leadership reporting line, or they are independently handled by HR, depending on the specifics. The university cannot address complaints or concerns that are anonymous and lacking in sufficient details. Employee matters are confidential unless the employee chooses to discuss specifics.

Allegations of unethical behavior are serious and if employees have information about unethical behavior they should raise those concerns directly with a supervisor, or with HR.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 -- Department e-mail accounts

QUESTION

What is going on with the departmental email accounts - I hear there are google groups now, but they are not emails, they are posts.  There has not been any communication from OIT about this and the process is cumbersome-to say the least.  Finally, how much is UA paying for this system in terms of software and people?

RESPONSE

From Karl Kowalski, OIT User Services
 
As part of our three year transition from our old email system to Google Apps for Education, we are transitioning group/departmental e-mail accounts to Google as well. Google Groups does function differently. It can work as a departmental email account, as a discussion group, as a mailing list, or as an alias with any combination thereof. We have said this transition was going to take place multiple times over the last couple of years and most recently when we made the decision not to renew our spam filtering software for the old email system.

The cost to the university for GoogleApps, which includes email, calendar, docs, groups, as well as a whole slew of other applications, is nothing. It is free to the University. That is why we are trying to move people off the old systems. The longer we keep the old systems running, the less we realize in savings. Once we have everyone (including departmental accounts) off of the old systems, we can stop licensing software and we can avoid costly hardware upgrades.

I can personally take responsibility for the lack of clarity in our communications and will strive to improve that. We have met with our support staff and discussed the importance of listening to the use case for your Group so that we assist you in arriving at the proper configuration. We will also come to your department and work with you so that you are satisfied with your new account(s).  We are working with departments one-on-one to ensure that their Google Group is configured to function as they expect or as may work for each particular situation.

Your old departmental account is neither forwarded nor turned off until you notify OIT that you are satisfied with the way your new Google Group account is working.

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