November 2012

Nov. 28, 2012 -- Health insurance options

QUESTION

Since the number of participants seems to be a major factor in health care costs has the university considered partnering with the state or perhaps other universities in the Pacific Northwest?  It would seem that a partnership would benefit all parties through increased membership.
 

RESPONSE

From Erika Van Flein, Director of Benefits

Self-insurance is usually the best option for a group our size. We pay for our claims and administration of the plans, and maintain control of our plan design. The Joint Health Care Committee had a subcommittee to look into expanding the pool by joining with other groups. The university has also looked into this in the past and has concluded that it would not be beneficial to do so. Complications with funding arrangements, staff benefit rates and contracts with grant-funding agencies all play a part in making this unacceptable.In addition, the other group would have to agree to having UA join them, and so far the State of Alaska has not been open to this idea.

Nov. 26, 2012 -- Degree programs offered through distance eduation

QUESTION

Has UAF considered offering entire bachelor degree programs via online distance education? Doing so would help solve the parking problem on campus, transportation needs of students, missed classes due to weather, ultimately save money for UAF, and would inspire more people to choose UAF--including non-traditional students, and people Outside, thus increasing funds for UAF. Alaska is the perfect place for this and UA could be a leader in methods of innovative education.

RESPONSE

From Carol Gering, director UAF eLearning and Distance Education

Thank you for your question. For more than 25 years, we've served geographically distributed students throughout the state of Alaska and around the world. In a recent review of distance education, we found that nearly 75 percent of the credit hours delivered are to students who live in the Fairbanks area. In an effort to meet the needs of our students, we’re actively working with UAF academic departments to expand our course menu and to offer more degree programs, including bachelor's degree programs, completely online. The following programs are currently offered through UAF's eLearning and Distance Education.

Occupational Endorsements

Bookkeeping Technician
Financial Services Representative
Medical Billing
Medical Coding
Medical Office Reception
 
Certificates
Accounting Technician
Applied Business Management
Healthcare Reimbursement
Medical and Dental Reception
 
Associate Degrees (with COMM from UAA or UAS)
Applied Accounting A.A.S.
Applied Business A.A.S.
Associate of Arts A.A.
 
Bachelor Degrees
Bachelor of Emergency Management B.E.M. - Must take 33 emergency services credits through UAF on campus courses or other online program

Graduate Degrees
Master of Education track in Online Innovation and Design M.Ed.


Nov. 26, 2012 -- Student health insurance

QUESTION

UAF requires all students to have health insurance; however many students, already living quite frugally, cannot afford it, and are not eligible for federal/state medicaid. The initial purchase price plus the deductible, renders it useless to many of us. We also discovered a lack of coverage for anything preexisting. Paying for health insurance with a student loan means paying even more (interest rates on the loan) for insurance that we did not use but bought. In light of this, what is the university doing about improving the Health Insurance or lack of Health Care problem for students, and for faculty? Also, what is the punishment for not being able to afford health insurance? Can we still graduate if he do not have insurance?


RESPONSE

From BJ Alrich, director for UAF Student Health and Counseling Center

The university has a policy that requires all students be covered by health insurance in order to avoid significant financial stress should one encounter an unexpected and/or long-term health issue. However, there is no punishment for not being able to afford health insurance and students are not prohibited from graduating without it. 

All international students with F-1 and J-1 visas carry health insurance. In addition, everyone will be required to have insurance under the new health care reform law and young people can now stay on their parents’ insurance plans up to age 26. For those who do not have access to their parents’ plans, UAF has partnered with United Health Care Student Resources, to provide lower-cost insurance to students. 

UAF is in the process of requesting proposals for insurance vendors for next the next academic year. It’s our hope that this competitive process will yield reasonably priced plans with good coverage. In addition, the health care reform law requires states to have health insurance exchanges in place by 2014, which will allow for individuals and small companies to shop for plans online to fit their needs. While there are some limitations on preexisting conditions, the student policy, due to health care reform, has become a more robust plan and is expected to continue to improve. It’s true that if you don’t experience an illness or injury or take advantage of the preventive benefits, you won’t recoup your money. But the overall benefit is there if you take full advantage of the preventive coverage or if your circumstances change and you end up needing the coverage.

Nov. 19, 2012 -- President Gamble

QUESTION

What is the legal process for the student body to remove/fire a University president? This is a serious question and I am being nice. Please don't censor me.
 

RESPONSE

From Kate Wattum, interim director UA Public Affairs

You have asked how the student body might go about firing the president of the university.  By law (AK Const. Art. 7, § 3 and AK Statute 14.40.120) the president is appointed by the Board of Regents.  Because the board appoints and supervises the president, you would communicate any concerns you have regarding the president's performance to the Board of Regents.  A student body may communicate concerns through university governance groups, through communications to the board's chair, or by addressing the board at meetings during public comment sessions. Contact and other information is available at www.alaska.edu/bor

Nov. 15, 2012 -- Minors on campus policy

QUESTION

Concerning the background checks that will be hitting volunteers soon, will there be an opportunity for members of student volunteer clubs to weigh in on the discussion? Because many of the family events on campus are made possible by student volunteers, I feel it is essential for students and clubs to be a part of the final decision, especially if they may end up footing the bill for background checks.

RESPONSE

From Frances Isgrigg, Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management

Thank you for your question. The policy will be vetted with a number of groups including Governance groups, which includes ASUAF, Faculty Senate and Staff Council. While it's impossible to address every situation with a policy, the committee will develop guidelines to help identify any activities that need further evaluation. Eventually we would expect a process where the committee can work with the group to address specific concerns.


Please contact me at fisgrigg@alaska.edu if you have additional quesions.

Nov. 13, 2012 -- Health risk assessment

QUESTION

What happened to the survey we used to take for Blue Cross that we would receive money for completing?

RESPONSE

From Erika Van Flein, UA Human Resources

The Health Risk Assessment was first done several years ago as part of an overall wellness program administered by Summex, which later became WebMD. The questionnaire asked several questions about your state of health, current conditions, activity level, lifestyle choices and habits, and biometric information such as blood pressure and cholesterol readings. Employees and their spouses were offered an incentive to complete the HRA. This incentive was originally provided as a check mailed to employees, but was later changed to become a "rebate" paid through the payroll process to essentially reduce the cost of the health care plan if both the employee and enrolled spouse also completed the HRA. When we contracted with WIN for Alaska for wellness services, the HRA continued with the incentive for the first year. After that, we offered the HRA but didn't offer a financial incentive to do so. 

The Joint Health Care Committee felt that the survey was too subjective; The university wasn't able to use the information in a meaningful way at that time.  Studies vary on the effectiveness of incentives. However, we've now increased our ability (through WIN) to track participation and results with the wellness program.  A rebate or wellness credit is currently being reconsidered.

Nov. 12, 2012 -- Wood Center bus shelter emergency phone

QUESTION

The "safety" phone in the Wood Center bus shelter has been disabled and non-functional since at least 2009.  This should be remedied and additional safety phones should be established across campus and they should be lit with blue lights like most organizations do with their safety phones. If it hasn't occurred already, an emergency will someday occur where one of these phones could have been used to save one or more lives. If UAF has no intention of repairing this phone or others on campus, all hints of its existence should be removed. Otherwise, it is obvious that UAF has let a safety system slip into disrepair.

RESPONSE

Thank you for your question. This phone has been difficult to keep operational. We understand that it has been taken out, but will update this question if it's repaired or replaced. A list of other emergency phones is available online.

Nov. 13, 2012 -- Health care options for next year

QUESTION

Why are UAF employees being kept in the dark about decisions being made right now about our health care options for next year? Apparently it has been decided that the opt-out option will be removed and everyone who has opted out will be require to pay for UA health coverage - even when they have better and less expensive coverage elsewhere. Who decided this was a good idea? Why are those making these decisions not listening to the employees who have been able to make comments through the UAF staff council blog - the only place the information was apparently shared? Most comments said they wanted the opt-out option left in place. I really doubt the premiums collected are going to off set the costs of care all the currently opted out employees will bring back to the plan. I am sure all employees will them be required to pay for this with higher premiums, again, the following plan year.
 

RESPONSE

From Erika Van Flein, UA Human Resources

The JHCC met Oct. 16-17 to review several plan options and voted to eliminate the opt out option with the exception of dual career university couples, meaning that if both spouses work for the UA in benefit-eligible jobs, one may opt out to be the spouse on the other's plan. This exception was influenced by comments on the staff blog, and input from other employee groups. But it was also determined that the benefits of having the larger pool of employees on the plan far outweighed the advantages of allowing a select few to opt out.

Other changes were also recommended, and motions passed, but the motions just recently been forwarded to the Chief Human Resources Officer for final approval and some implementation details are still being worked out, so it would be premature to announce other changes as final. Plans are usually finalized in December and announced in January. More information can be found on the Joint Health Care Committee website.

Nov. 12, 2012 -- Wood Center bus shelter emergency phone

QUESTION

The "safety" phone in the Wood Center bus shelter has been disabled and non-functional since at least 2009.  This should be remedied and additional safety phones should be established across campus and they should be lit with blue lights like most organizations do with their safety phones. If it hasn't occurred already, an emergency will someday occur where one of these phones could have been used to save one or more lives. If UAF has no intention of repairing this phone or others on campus, all hints of its existence should be removed. Otherwise, it is obvious that UAF has let a safety system slip into disrepair.

RESPONSE

Thank you for your question. This phone has been difficult to keep operational. We understand that it has been taken out, but will update this question if it's repaired or replaced. A list of other emergency phones is available online.

Nov. 12, 2012 -- Grapevine questions

QUESTION

Why are the questions being censored? Why can't people just post questions openly, so others can see them too?

RESPONSE

The Grapevine was designed to improve communication between the administration and the UAF community and to offer a way for people to ask offer suggestions and ask questions. Because the site uses Roxen, the university's web content management system, it doesn't allow for direct-posting of questions. It takes time to find accurate answers to questions, so sometimes it takes a while for us to post those answers.

Nov. 12, 2012 -- Taku Route and shuttle safety

QUESTION

The Take Route shuttle is currently using the trail from the Taku Lot to the Tanana Loop/Tanana Drive intersection. I am concerned that this is unsafe and unnecessary. Is this the planned route once construction begins on the engineering expansion?

Also, have we considered any alternative routes? For example:

  • Turning Taku Drive back into a two way road
  • Taking Farmer's Loop to Tanana Drive. If the left hand turn onto Farmer's Loop is unsafe, have we taken any steps to improve safety for Taku Lot users?
  • Changing the pickup and drop off location from the Wood Center Bus Stop to the Signers' Hall stop, the Gruening turnaround, or the Wood Center loading dock.

RESPONSE

From Marianne Freelong, Facilities Services

In preparation for the upcoming construction work on the new engineering building, Transportation Services is looking at the long term closure of Tanana Loop on either side of the Duckering Building. We are in the process now of preparing a survey for passengers as to the best routes to consider during the closure.

During the temporary closure in October, the shuttle bus used the existing bike path from the Ballaine parking lot running parallel with Tanana Loop to the south.  Facilities Services closed the bike path for the short term; however we are looking at expanding the bike path so that the shuttle can travel to the south and back up onto Tanana Loop.  For safety concerns, we do not want our shuttle buses making a left turn onto Farmers Loop in order to connect again with Tanana Loop. That path took away the need to drive completely around Tanana Loop and Yukon Drive, saving considerable time for passengers.
 

Nov. 12, 2012 -- Appropriate use of campus space

QUESTION

Why does UAF give St. Mark's their own house on campus?  One reason the Office of Multicultural Affairs & Diversity and the Women's Center were consolidated was to due to space limitations.  It would seem to make sense that UAF could merge all religious organizations into one structure as well. 

RESPONSE

From Don Foley, Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Life

Space was made available to campus  religious organizations in the early 1990s. At that time the two requests made were for a Catholic student meeting place, and a Methodist student meeting place (United Campus Ministries). These two requests were honored given space available at that time.

Since then, space needs and requests have significantly increased for all types of student organizations. The university does their best to provide meeting space for all types of clubs and organizations.  Increased demand has necessitated reconsideration of how to allot appropriate space for a wide variety of groups.  This effort has been further complicated by physical and aging conditions of many university facilities, resulting in reassessment of appropriately certified usable options.  For instance, all housing facilities located on Copper Lane are expected to be demolished in the next two years.  With the expected expansion and reworking of Wood Center, we're hoping the resulting new footprint will create space for all different types of organizations. We're continuously looking for ways to expand our offerings provide opportunity for dialogue and education to so many different interest groups.

The above explanation was in response to a few questions on the same topic. If you have questions, please contact Don Foley at 474-7317 or djfoley@alaska.edu. Please contact Wood Center scheduling if you're a group looking for meeting space on campus.
 

Nov. 8, 2012 -- Minors on campus

QUESTION

I'm aware that a committee has been formed to discuss how the university will address the issue of minors on campus, and understand the reasoning behind this.  But, I'm concerned that events geared toward the families of the UAF and Fairbanks communities will be hampered to the point of cancellation (like Wood Center's Halloween event) because they so heavily depend on volunteers and may not know who some of their volunteers are until the last minute.  Is the committee looking at the difference between a UAF music or science camp (where parents entrust their kids to the university for the day) versus a family event where parents are required to be at the event with their children?  I fear the "screening processes" being looked at may be an attempt for the university to decrease its liability rather than taking reasonable precautions to ensure children's safety.


RESPONSE

From Frances Isgrigg, Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Managment

I understand your concern and this is one of the areas where the committee has had many discussions.  As you mentioned, the goal of the committee is to protect minors while they are participating in classes, events, the youth symphony, Halloween parties, and other outreach activities that UAF encourages.
 
What we expect from the proposed policy is that there will be a level of interaction with minors by UAF employees and volunteers that will require background checks and those that won’t.  Some of those key triggers will be questions similar to what you discuss: Are children there with parents or another guardian?  Is this an overnight camp?  Are staff or volunteers responsible on a day-to-day basis for the health and welfare of a minor where parents are dropping them off?

UAF wants to encourage volunteers – we can’t succeed without them. The policy on minors is still in its draft stages, but one that doesn't require all volunteers will be background checked (screened).  The final policy and guidance will based on  common sense with as little burden as possible, not only on programs and events, but to our staff as well, while we continue to foster a safe environment for minors on UAF's campuses.
 

Nov. 8, 2012 -- Dining Services grill hours

QUESTION

Why have the dining hours at Wood Center grill change? Also, why are we using paper products in Wood Center Dining facility?

RESPONSE

The hours of the grill have been addressed and they are back to regular hours since Wednesday. We're still checking on your question about paper products.


 

Nov. 8, 2012 -- Facilties Services photo

QUESTION

The Facilities Services Facebook Page has a picture of employees helping someone change tires on their personally owned vehicle. Is this a service provided by Facilities Services and what is the University's policy on Facilities Service employees working on non-university owned vehicles?

RESPONSE

From Marianne Freelong, Facilities Services

That photo was taken after work hours showing one of our grounds employees assisting a student employee changing winter tires. They were in the parking lot after work hours and not using UAF equipment or tools. The point of the photo was to show our FS employees helping one another out.  It is not university policy for our employees to work on privately owned vehicles during work hours or inside university facilities.
 

Nov. 5, 2012 -- Drilling near Butrovich Building

QUESTION

What is the purpose of the heavy-duty drilling that is going on today outside Butrovich's south side?

RESPONSE

Geotechnical investigations (i.e. the heavy drilling) are ongoing for two projects adjacent to the Butrovich Building. One is the repair of the east retaining wall that sits below the parking lot. The other project concerns a proposal for locating solar panels on the hillside. 

Nov. 5, 2012 -- Dumpster location near Irving II

QUESTION

I was wondering if the dumpster that's on the street in front of the Irving II building might be removed anytime soon. I never see it used, it's unsightly, and a traffic and pedestrian hazard. Thanks.


RESPONSE

Darrin “Bear” Edson, Operations Superintendent

Thank you for the question, The dumpster temporarily placed on the south side of the Irving buildings, will be moved back to its designated location once construction activities allow it. The dumpster is used by the custodial contractor and is emptied weekly. A dumpster pad / location has been designed into the new Life Science Facility, to serve both Irving I and Irving II, as well as the Life Sciences. Facilities Services will be allowed access to the new area soon.

Nov. 5, 2012 -- Shuttle bus services from Taku Lot

QUESTION

The Take Route shuttle is currently using the trail from the Taku Lot to the Tanana Loop/Tanana Drive intersection. I am concerned that this is unsafe and unnecessary. Is this the planned route once construction begins on the engineering expansion?

   Also, have we considered any alternative routes? For example:

  • Turning Taku Drive back into a two way road  
  • Taking Farmer's Loop to Tanana Drive. If the left hand turn onto Farmer's is unsafe, have we taken any steps to improve safety for Taku Lot users?  
  • Changing the pickup and drop off location from the Wood Center Bus Stop to the Signers' Hall stop, the Gruening turn-around, or the Wood Center loading dock.

RESPONSE

From Martin Klein, Facilities Services
In preparation for the upcoming construction work on the new engineering building, Transportation Services is looking at the long term closure of Tanana Loop on either side of the Duckering Building. We are in the process now of preparing a survey for passengers as to the best routes to consider during the closure.

During the temporary closure in October, the shuttle bus used the existing bike path from the Ballaine parking lot running parallel with Tanana Loop to the south. Facilities Services closed the bike path for the short term; however we are looking at expanding the bike path so that the shuttle can travel to the south and back up onto Tanana Loop. For safety concerns, we do not want our shuttle buses making a left turn onto Farmers Loop in order to connect again with Tanana Loop. That path took away the need to drive completely around Tanana Loop and Yukon Drive, saving considerable time for passengers.
 

Nov. 5, 2012 -- Course Finder improvements

QUESTION

Would it be possible to make a search option in the course finders that would bring up all writing intensive and oral intensive classes, no matter what field they are in? I've been trying to find some that will fit with my schedule and major but also give some extra insight I might not get from my required classes but, the only ones that seem to work aren't even being offered this semester. Being able to just turn them up in the search would be an immense help.

RESPONSE

Thank you for your suggestion. Marketing and Communications manages the Course Finder for the Office of Admissions and the Registrar. We'll discuss the feasibility of your suggestion with them.

Nov. 2, 2012 -- Cameras on campus

QUESTION

I noticed surveillance cameras mounted on the south-east corner of the Gruening building as well as one of the dorms close to the Patty Center. Is this the beginning of an UAF surveillance grid?  Who is collecting the video, for what purpose, and why only at those locations?  Also, is there a live feed available?

RESPONSE

From UAF Police Chief Sean McGee

Much of the recording on the UAF campus was initiated by campus stakeholders nearly a decade ago and now includes locations include Residence Life, the UA Museum of the North and the Rasmuson Library. The cameras on the Gruening Building and on Lathrop Hall are some of the more recent additions.

The purpose of video recording of public areas by the police is to deter crime and to assist University Police in protecting the safety and property of the university community.

Video recording for security purposes is conducted in a professional, ethical and legal manner. Personnel involved in video recording are appropriately trained in the responsible use of this technology to ensure that it's conducted in a manner consistent with all existing university policies.Video recording of public areas for security purposes at the university is limited to uses that do not violate the reasonable expectation of privacy as defined by law.

The feeds from these cameras are viewed at the UAF Emergency Communications Center, and they are not publicly available.
 

Nov. 2, 2012 -- UAF Memes page on Facebook

QUESTION

Is the UAF Memes Facebook page managed by the UAF marketing team?

RESPONSE

From Andrew Cassel, social media coordinator

The UAF Memes page was created and is administered by students.

Nov. 2, 2012 -- ASUAF ballot initiative procedures

QUESTION

What is the proper way for UAF students to get a ballot initiative placed onto the ASUAF ballot in any given semester?

RESPONSE

From Anne Williamson, ASUAFOffice Manager

There are two ways to do this. One way is to pass a referendum through the student Senate; this is typically done by attending a Senate meeting (Sundays at 4 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge of Constitution Hall,) and garnering support for your cause among the senators, who will then vote whether or not to place it on the ballot. Note: It is highly unlikely for a referendum to pass though the senate within the course of a single meeting.

The second way is to submit a petition signed by a percentage of the student body. If the initiative proposes a constitutional change, then signatures of 10 percent of the student body (registered for that semester) are required. All other initiatives require 5 percent. 

This petition must follow the format outlined in the ASUAF Elections Manual (Section 400 & 1100; available online at www.asuaf.org.) and must be submitted to the ASUAF office by the announced petition deadline. The petition is then reviewed by the Elections Board for validity.

It is highly recommended that the sponsor of any initiative communicate early with the Elections Board or the ASUAF Office Manager/Adviser regarding proper language and procedure.

ASUAF's governing documents are all online, but I am more than happy to walk a student through the process.

Contact Anne Williamson at aewilliamson@alaska.edu or call 474-5153.


 

Nov. 2, 2012 -- Soft closure planned for the holidays

QUESTION

Is the UAF going to do a soft closure this year during the holidays?

RESPONSE

From Brad Lobland, interim director UAF Human Resources

UAF is planning a soft closure Jan 2 – 4, 2013.  Dec. 17 – 21, 2012 is not considered an official soft closure however, departments can encourage leave during this time as long as pertinent operations are staffed. Additional communication to campus is forthcoming.

If you have questions about the soft closure and leave during that time, please contact UAF Human Resources at 474-7700.

Nov. 2, 2012 -- Position descriptions for recently vacated positions

QUESTION

Will the positions formerly held by Mike Earnest and Robert Holden be filled as they are currently written?

RESPONSE

From the supervisors Raajkumar Kurapati and Mike Sfraga

Robert Holden's position is expected to be filled by a contracts manager who will be responsible for overseeing the dining and bookstore contracts. Both of these are outsourced functions and are managed and staffed by third party vendors. In the interim, Associate Vice Chancellor Raajkumar Kurapati, is serving as the point of contact for related issues.

Libby Eddy is the acting registrar for UAF. The position will be evaluated at the end of the semester and applicable changes, if any, will be made at that time.
 

Nov. 1, 2012 -- Licensing and trademark

QUESTION

I didn't notice Sunrise Bagel and Espresso listed on licensed users of the UAF Bear trademark as show at http://www.uaf.edu/aux-bus/trademark/ yet the business prominently displays the UAF Bear at their College Road location. Has the list not been updated or is Sunrise Bagel and Espresso not in compliance with the usage terms of the UAF Bear?

RESPONSE

The list at www.uaf.edu/aux-bus/trademark/ is of licensed vendors, those who are approved to produce items that contain the UAF trademarks. It doesn't include every organization that receives permission to use the logo on a one-time or ongoing basis. While Sunrise Bagel & Espresso is not selling UAF merchandise, they are demonstrating their support of UAF by displaying a sign with UAF trademarks. As is required of anyone who wishes to use a UAF trademark, their sign was reviewed and ultimately approved by Marketing and Communications staff members. More information about using UAF logos and trademarks appropriately is at www.uaf.edu/logo/ and art for review can be sent to logo@uaf.edu.
 


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