March 2014

Mar. 26, 2014 -- Annual Leave Cash-In Program

QUESTION

I've heard a rumor that the Annual Leave Cash-In Program is going away. Is this true?

RESPONSE

From  Erika Van Flein, Director of Benefits, Statewide Office of Human Resources

Annual Leave Cash-in cost the UA system almost $1 million in FY13. When brainstorming ideas for cost savings in light of coming budget reductions, eliminating the annual leave cash-in was one of the items brought up. The UAF Budget Options group included it as Option #3 in their initial list of options, available at the Financial Services website with cost savings projected for UAF.

At this time, UA is not going to make any changes to the annual leave cash-in program. It would only be reduced or eliminated in the future if few other options to reduce costs are available.
 

Mar. 20, 2014 -- Healthyroads incentives deadline

QUESTION

The response to the latest question about Healthyroads did not at all address why there is so little time between the email and the deadline in order to be entered in the raffle. It specifically asked about the raffle, not the rebate.

RESPONSE

From  Erika Van Flein,  Director of Benefits

We sent out the communication as soon as we could after the contract with the biometric screening vendor was signed, which took longer than originally planned.

The deadline is June 30 for the health rebate incentive.The goal is to encourage employees to participate well in advance of the deadline. There will be additional opportunities to win!

QUESTION

Why was an email sent out so late (3/17/14) regarding the Healthyroads Incentives with a deadline of  3/31/14  - "Employees enrolled in the UA Choice health plan who complete both activities by  March 31, 2014 , are entered into a raffle towards exciting rewards!"  one of the activities is to see your Health Care Provider and get a Biometrics Screening done, that does not give us much time!

RESPONSE

From  Erika Van Flein,  Director of Benefits

The  March 31 deadline is for the raffle prizes. You have until June 30 to complete the Personal Health Assessment at Healthyroads.com, and provide your biometric screening results to qualify for the rebate on your health care contributions. There will be more announcements, incentives and screening opportunities coming soon. We're currently working to set up screening events in the rural locations. 

More information is available on the FAQ website and by contacting Erika Van Flein

Mar. 20, 2014 -- Electronic time/tempature sign placement

QUESTION

Is there any plan to move or modify the electronic time/temp/info stone marker at the foot of the University's entrance off College Rd.and University Av.?   It seems to be a monument to poor planning.  It is placed very low to the ground, and is further obscured by surrounding light posts and, in winter, by ice sculptures and piles of snow. It is only readable from one side.  It seems to me that his marker is not the impression of UAF we'd like to give to students or visitors.  

RESPONSE

From Marianne Freelong, Facilities Services. 

Thank you for suggestion, but there is no plan to relocate the sign. The sign, installed in 2000 was a gift from the Alumni Association and purchased to replace signs being placed around campus announcing campus events.  The location was chosen by a committee to provide the best viewing from traffic stops on University and College Roads and pedestrian traffic as well as access to power.

The Bear sculpture should be moved and next winter we will ask that it be placed in another spot at that location.

Mar. 19, 2014 -- Healthyroads privacy question

QUESTION

On the UA Benefits website, it promises that no personal information gathered by Healthyroads will ever be seen by the university, that it will be strictly confidential.

When I read the Privacy Policy on the Healthyroads website, item 12 states:  "Privacy Practices. Healthyroads may use and/or provide your plan sponsor, health plan, or other entities that have contracted with your plan sponsor or health plan to administer your plan, with and/or access to information, including personal information, collected through your use of our program and website."
 

RESPONSE

From Erika Van Flein, UA Human Resources

The university receives only aggregate information. The statemen is industry-standard language similar to what you might see at your medical practitioner.

Mar. 19, 2014 -- The difference between a school or college

QUESTION

What is the difference between a school and a college? For example: "School" of Management, and "College" of Engineering and Mines.

RESPONSE

Generally a school is for one subject: management or education. A college is a collection of subjects: The College of Liberal Arts includes art, philosophy, literature, history, etc.; the College of Natural Science and Mathematics includes biology, botany, geology, etc.

According to UAF Provost Susan Henrichs, there is some overlap, however. For example, the College of Engineering and Mines is almost all engineering and isn't really any more diverse in subject matter than the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, which has fisheries, oceanography and marine biology, which are quite a bit different than the various engineering tracks. 

Mar.18, 2014 -- Polar Perk opening times

QUESTION

Please explain to me why Polar Perk is opening at 8 a.m. Many members of the staff are required to be at work at 8 and would really like our morning coffee before getting into the office. While we understand that with students gone from the campus for Spring Break most dining is nonexistent at least consider us.

RESPONSE

From Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, Dining Services Contract Manager

In the past, Polar Perk has been open at 7:30 a.m but due to lack of sales during that time period and budgetary constraints, those hours have had to be shortened to be more conscious of cost effective operations. We continue to review our sales during select time periods and make changes as appropriate but with limited traffic in the building between 7:30 a.m. - 8 a.m, it's not cost effective for Polar Perk to be open during that time.

Mar. 17, 2014 -- Safety on campus

QUESTION

With all the contention over SB176 (allowing open carry or concealed carry of guns on campus), it seems that the University is not doing a good enough job of highlighting what campus police and security does to promote the safety of students. The campus does have a Community Service Officer who is on call 24 hours a day to walk students, staff and faculty to and from buildings or to and from their vehicles if they feel unsafe doing so alone. There are also a series of emergency phones marked with the blue lights around campus that all can use if they feel threatened.
Regardless of how the legislature deals with guns on campus, it seems prudent that University Police do a better job promoting the personal safety measures that are available to all UAF members on campus and be proactive in charting new ways to keep us all safe.

RESPONSE

Thank you for your suggestion. You may have noticed that Chancellor Rogers announced a safety pilot program last week. The supervisor's tool kit is a resource for supervisors to use to highlight safety information in their departments. While the tool kit doesn't go into great detail about the Community Service Officer program, it does highlight the availability of the CSOs to escort someone to their vehicle.

The project cropped out of the work of the Safety Compliance and Coordination Committee, chaired by Pat Pitney. The goal is to raise the visibility of safety overall at all of our campuses and remote sites.

We'll be sure to expand on the Community Service Officers program as we move further into the pilot and later in the fall when the full program is launched.

Mar.14, 2014 -- UAF sledding hill open to the public

QUESTION

Is the general public allowed to go sledding on the hill at the Patty Center?  My young children want to go sledding there, but with all of those improvements made to the hill, I'm not sure if it is open to the public and free still.

RESPONSE

The hill next to the climbing wall is open and free to the public. It is a use-at-your-own-risk facility. Please read the sign near the base of the hill or top. The Hulbert Nanook Terrain Park near the green house is restricted access and fenced.

Be safe and have fun!

Mar.14, 2014 -- Summer Sessions cost effectiveness

QUESTION

Has the cost effectiveness of Summer Sessions been evaluated recently, and, if so, where can the results be found?

RESPONSE

From Susan Henrichs, Provost

All UAF units are expected to undergo program review as part of a five year cycle. Summer Sessions will be among the units reviewed in FY15. As part of this regular review process, program information including student trends and demand for services, program productivity and efficiency, cost of the program, use of library resources, program partnerships and centrality to the UAF mission are evaluated. In the current fiscal climate, various unit structural models may be evaluated further as we look to optimize UAF cost savings and efficiencies.

Summer Sessions has not been evaluated yet as it was not considered under the program review policy at UAF that only looks at degree and certificate programs. It is included under the 2013 policy revision. Typically program review information is provided to the faculty/staff and administrative committees conducting reviews. A summary of results are presented to the Board of Regents at each September meeting for the past three years and is part of the meeting agendas.

If people are interested in statistical information about programs, such as enrollment, that is available via the UAF Factbook.

The Planning and Budget committee is considering any and all suggestions for reducing expenditures Summer Sessions has been submitted as an area to be considered by that group (along with about 100 other ideas)  The PBC review will consider program review information when it is available, but will gather other information as well.

Mar.13, 2014 -- The role of UArctic at UAF

QUESTION

I’ve asked this question on several occasions and have never had a response. I hear about UArctic repeatedly and want to know how this fits in to the academic mission of the university. From what I understand both Pat Pitney and other administrators travel frequently for UArctic activities and that a portion of John Eichelberger's salary is paid for his role in UArctic activities. Considering the budgetary concerns we hear about frequently, I would like to know how UAF's involvement in this UArctic program is going to bring students to UAF? Is this a good use of our money? How is this program relevant to our current economic climate in which current programs are being reduced or eliminated?

RESPONSE

From John Eichelberger, Graduate School Dean

UArctic is the largest and most comprehensive academic and research organization for universities focused on the Arctic. Its mission and goals — to foster education and scientific knowledge about the North — are fully in line with UAF’s. Each member institute contributes human resources to make it work. Currently, UAF is represented by Brian Rogers as chair of the governing body; Pat Pitney as vice president of finance; myself as dean of the graduate program; Donna Anger as council member and UAF coordinator for the student exchange program; and Mike Sfraga as co-director of the Arctic Policy Institute.

UAF’s main contribution is in-kind resources. Pat Pitney’s UArctic travel, a portion of her salary, and additional personnel salaries are covered by a grant from UArctic to help organize and develop UArctic’s core organization. The Arctic Policy Institute, including costs associated with travel, conference logistics, and publications, is supported by private, corporate, and NGO funding.

Some foreign universities receive money from their governments for UArctic activities. This is not currently possible in the US except for specific projects. However, because a number of federal funding agencies favor proposals with an international dimension, UArctic likely enhances our competiveness. Our participation in UArctic does affect UAF’s budget, but in light of the global interest in the Arctic and our unique position as America’s arctic university, it is one of the best investments we can make for our future success and leadership.

UAF continues be a national and world leader in climate change and arctic research. In fact, we publish more in the peer-reviewed literature on arcticissues than any other organization in the world — including much larger US universities that promote their arctic focus — and government science agencies, domestic and foreign.

It’s important that our academic community knows how to take advantage of the opportunities offered through our involvement with UArctic.

Arctic nations and other stakeholders are engaged in the rapidly intensifying discussions surrounding the Arctic, from opening sea routes to resource exploration venturing offshore and the major social changes that these activities portend. UArctic and its member institutions strengthen UAF’s capacity to be the primary U.S. resource for practical, science- and scholarship-based arctic information for a wide variety of stakeholders. We can also serve as the most authoritative U.S. academic voice among our arctic neighbors. UArctic is an important mechanism, though not the only one, for fulfilling UAF’s leadership role in the Arctic and enriching our own education and research programs in the process. Competitor US universities are now aggressively marketing Arctic-related degree programs. We should be doing the same, and we can do it better.

UAF students have received opportunities through substantial scholarships for study programs and faculty have received funding to attend meetings as a direct result of our UArctic partnerships, as you can see from the examples below.

  • Thematic networks are a primary mechanism UArctic uses to structure education and research collaborations. UAF just launched two new collaborative programs: natural hazards and permafrost. The permafrost team is initiating a summer international field school and collaborative graduate degree program. For the natural hazards team, UAF and the Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU), Arkhangelsk, are co-sponsoring an international weeklong workshop in Russia to begin development of an online natural hazards course for UArctic. Students will gain a broader perspective on natural hazards, learn course development tools, and establish lasting connections with their peers from Russia and other northern countries. UAF has reinvigorated a thematic network that works to sustain indigenous arctic languages.
     
  • Four of our graduate students have just returned from a Model Arctic Council workshop at NArFU with their travel expenses paid through NArFU. Students brought position papers representing the stance of various arctic countries and negotiated with student “representatives” of others of the Arctic 8 in order to understand the dynamics of the real, ministerial level Arctic Council does. They came back with much new knowledge and enthusiasm for their studies in arctic policy.
     
  • Our graduate students have applied to a village sustainability workshop in Greenland and to participate in a floating university scientific cruise in the Russian Arctic, both with the possibility of full travel support from Denmark and Fulbright, respectively.

     
  • UAF joined the Arctic Extractive Industries Thematic Network, which gathers PhD students and their advisors annually for intensive one-week workshops on the positive and negative impacts of extractive industries on communities in the Arctic.
     
  • UArctic’s North2North program has supported 39 student semesters for our undergraduates and graduate students over the past 5 years. We are only beginning to take full advantage of the possibilities offered through our UArctic role. I am confident that the international dimension that UArctic provides us will become a major draw for students across the nation and globally who are interested in arctic policy, arctic science, and the human future of the Arctic. 
I believe that every student, undergraduate or graduate, who comes here with an interest in arctic issues should have the opportunity for direct experience with our arctic neighbors, whether it be a multi-national team-taught course, an intensive multi-national week-long workshop, a field school, or a full semester or year of study in another arctic country. Alaska is only a small part of the Arctic. We have much to learn and much to share with our neighbors, and we are obligated to help the future leaders we are educating to understand the Arctic. 
 
If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me at jceichelberger@alaska.edu.

Mar.13, 2014 -- Dining services using local foods.

QUESTION 

I heard dining is going to go all organic and local. I like high fructose corn syrup and eating vegetables that only grow in tropical places. Please tell me we will not have a vocal minority's dietary militancy forced on campus.

RESPONSE

From Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, Dining Services Contract Manager

Dining Services has the unique challenge of satisfying many different palates with our dining options.  Having said that, we're also conscious of our environment and attempt to use local foods whenever possible. There has been increased interest in incorporating more local and organic foods into the meals offered in both on-campus dining and catering but that does not mean we'll replace many of the other items you enjoy. Due to our location limitations, we simply can't produce locally ALL foods used in dining so we'll continue to have a variety of foods from multiple sources and locations to provide food for everyone on campus.

Mar.13, 2014 -- Bicyclists and roundabouts

QUESTION 

Hello, I am wondering about the sign near the roundabout on the UAF campus asking bikers not to "cut through the roundabout". Are bikers not allowed to use the roundabout? If so, why? Bikes are legal vehicles on the roads and it's really inconvenient to have to switch the sidewalk for the roundabout Thanks!

RESPONSE

Bicyclists often cut through the middle of the roundabout rather than going with traffic. Bicyclists should obey vehicular traffic signals and laws on the roadways.

Whether you walk, bike or drive, take a few seconds to read and follow these crosswalk safety guidelines:


PEDESTRIANS:

  • Always cross at marked crosswalks.
  • Obey any pedestrian signals and look left right left. By doing this you insure that the road is clear in both directions before crossing.
  • If a vehicle approaches, make eye contact with the driver to be sure they see you before you cross.
  • Look before walking past stopped vehicles. Do not cross just because a driver waves you on. Be sure all lanes are clear first.
  • Remember that bicyclists are not considered pedestrians unless they are walking their bikes. Otherwise, they are considered vehicles.

BICYCLISTS:

  • Yield to pedestrians.
  • Remember that bicyclists are not considered pedestrians unless they are walking their bikes.
  • Obey vehicular traffic signals and laws on the roadways.
  • Use extra caution as you transition between bike paths, roads and sidewalks. Be aware that your actions are unpredictable to drivers and pedestrians.

DRIVERS:

  • Yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks and at intersections.
  • Be prepared to stop at all marked crosswalks. Stay alert and reduce speed in areas with crosswalks.
  • Come to a complete stop if pedestrians are crossing or preparing to cross.
  • Never pass another vehicle that has stopped or is slowing down at a crosswalk.

March 10, 2014 -- Dining services over spring break

 QUESTION

I was surprised to see that there would be so few Dining Services options during Spring Break, with Arctic Winter Games events going on. Why not capitalize on the influx of people?
 

RESPONSE

From Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, Dining Services Contract Manager

The dining options on campus during spring break will be minimal for several reasons.  One, according to our dining contract, Dining Services closes Lola Tilly during Spring Break because the students are gone. With this departure, the number of people eating on campus tends to drastically reduce as well and it becomes the ideal time for repairs and maintenance.  During this year's Spring Break, Facilities Services will be renovating spaces which will require us to shift our services to the Polar Perk location.  When we found out about the Arctic Winter Games coming to UAF, we reviewed the locations of their events and event times to determine if it would be beneficial to remain open.  We also spoke to the Arctic Winter Games staff to ask how Dining Services could assist their needs in feeding the athletes and learned that the athletes will be eating at Lathrop High School as part of their meal plan.  Each of the competition venues will also have concession stands where attendees can purchase items during the events.

While the dining locations won't be used, catering has several events scheduled with the Arctic Winter Games over the course of the week and will continue to assist them when necessary. The Polar Perk location inside the Wood Center will be open Monday - Thursday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m, Friday (Campus Holiday) 12 p.m. - 4 p.m, and Saturday and Sunday during Spring Break.  Additionally West Ridge Cafe will be open Monday - Thursday  8 a.m. - 2 p.m. As always, we will reevaluate our hours as the games move forward and make changes as necessary.


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