Welcome to the Grapevine

The Grapevine is administered by the UAF Marketing and Communications Department and was designed to dispel rumors, clarify misconceptions and clear up misunderstandings about UAF topics of a general nature to improve communication between the administration and the UAF community.

Many times departments are able to quickly resolve an issue and we post the solution to the problem here as well. Thank you for your suggestions. 

Submit your question or suggestion here.

As always, building and facilities issues that need attention should be forwarded to dispatch@fs.uaf.edu or reported directly to 474-7000. Unsafe conditions should be reported to Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management here.

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March 31, 2015 -- Layoffs, reduced contracts and health plan open enrollment dates


 Will we have concrete information about layoffs and reduced contracts before open enrollment?


From Kari Burrell, vice chancellor for Administrative Services

UAF's budget planning for FY16 hinges on decisions the State Legislature will make in sizing the state's FY16 budget. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn April 19. The UA system's health plan open enrollment dates are April 15 – May 15. If the Legislature adjourns on time, system-level and campuswide budget decisions should be completed shortly thereafter and units should receive their  FY16 budget allocations by May. Unit directors should be able to make final budget decisions in early May. However, if employees are, for some reason, notified of contract reductions or other personnel actions after the May 15 open enrollment period, those actions would be considered employment status change events and employees who've experienced an employment status change are eligible to revisit their health plan selections even if after the open enrollment period.

March 31, 2015 -- Public records and position descriptions


How much about a position with the University is public record? Through the salary database previously available through the Sun Star names, salary, and system title were searchable. A position's working title can be found through eDir. Are position descriptions available? Are they considered public record?


From Brad Lobland, Human Resources

University records fall under the state public records laws, which has a variety of exceptions. In application at the university, exceptions include, but are not limited to, things like students' academic and disciplinary records, attorney-client communications, some law enforcement records and employees' personnel files. 

The university policies on public records requests are available online at https://www.alaska.edu/bor/policy/06-02.pdf. If the university declines to release a record, the applicable exception under state/federal law or university regulation will be provided. Most financial records, employee salaries and contact information, student directory information and university data, such as enrollments or graduation rates, are available as public record. Some of those records are readily available online.

Position descriptions, so long as they do not contain sensitive information that would allow an exclusion, would also fall under public records. 

Fees can be charged if documents ware copied or significant staff time is needed to pull the documents.

March 24, 2015 -- Alaska hire


I recently heard Governor Walker indicate he is fully supportive of local "Alaska" hire.  With positions being cut at UAF has the Chancellor given any thoughts of doing the same?  My department has had a regular faculty member teaching for years from out of state as well as an IT position; I am certain there are numerous Alaskans who would qualify for these positions.


From Kari Burrell, vice chancellor for administrative services

UAF does employ some faculty and staff who live out of state, although these are a small fraction of total employees.  This requires both supervisor and HR approval, and must be justified as being in the best interests of the University.  There are a variety of reasons.  In the research arena there is some work that must be done out of state.  An example is the management and oversight of the recently-completed construction of the research vessel Sikuliaq.  

Probably the commonest out-of-state employee is someone who has worked for UAF for some time and who has unique and valuable knowledge and/or skills.  If that person leaves Alaska, and it is possible for them to work remotely, sometimes their employment is continued until a suitable replacement can be found and/or trained.  Rarely, when the person is particularly difficult to replace, employment may continue indefinitely.  

Remote work arrangements can be ended, and the employee required to return to Alaska, if the employee is not performing well in the remote location or if there is a need for them to be available on-site.  

The university leadership is currently reviewing out of state employees and will make adjustments where suitable.

March 24, 2015 -- Cleaning schedule


The new daytime cleaning schedule is not off to a good start. The bleach smell is so strong in my office from the mopping that was just done, my eyes are burning and I feel nauseous. Not to mention the vacuuming for over an hour that made it impossible to hear an audio conference. Was any consideration given to the noise and fumes that employees will be exposed to now that the maintenance crew is here during normal meeting hours?


From Martin Klein, Facilities Services

We're sorry to hear you were disturbed by the cleaning.  Our custodial contractor uses a neutral green cleaner on campus.  A strong bleach smell would indicate something is not being mixed properly.  Also most office/conference areas should be able to be vacuumed in less than five or ten minutes. If you'd like us to follow up, please send an email to dispatch@fs.uaf.edu and include the building and floor of your office so ABM's supervisors can address this issue.

March 24, 2015 -- Incident notifications on campus


During my afternoon (2:45 pm) today (March 13), I checked the news and noticed in the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer there was an article posted online at 12:45 pm "Body found on UAF campus; investigation underway." It's disturbing to read something like this in your local newspaper and not as a memo from the administration. Why hasn't the university given its students, staff & faculty any notification?


From Marmian Grimes, senior public information officer

When there is an incident on campus, such as a death, police and other emergency responders work with member of the campus incident management team. The first priorities are to determine whether there is an immediate risk to the public and to secure the scene. In instances where there is a public safety risk or where first responders need help minimizing traffic through the area, a UAF alert message is sent. In this instance, the scene was secure and there was no risk to the public, so law enforcement and the IMT determined that an alert notification was not necessary.

The news media often gets word of these events ahead of the campus and Fairbanks community. While it's common for the public to be curious when they see police or other emergency vehicles gathered on campus, we have a responsibility to ensure that the next of kin has been notified and that we work with the families and others to communicate the information, as appropriate, with the university community.


March 24, 2015 -- Report parking violations


Who is the appropriate contact to report parking violations? The south side of Arctic Health loading dock area is for official vehicle use only and the area frequently becomes congested with Facilities Services vehicles as well as delivery trucks. Being that there is limited space there are employees in Arctic Health that routinely use the area for parking their personal vehicles. There is frequently a non-official car parked there. 


From Amanda Wall, UAF Office of the Bursar

Thanks for letting us know. Parking violations should be reported to 474-PARK( 7275).

March 19, 2015 -- PolarExpress card for web time entry


Has any consideration been given to using a card swipe that would allow employees to swipe their PolarExpress card and have it tie in to Web Time Entry to automate the time reporting process?


From Erik Seastedt, Chief Human Resources Officer

We are not actively looking at electronic key cards for employee time entry at this time. It’s a good idea but probably an expense we can’t afford to consider at this time.  These systems require the installation of card readers on employee computers and in work areas along with software purchase and system programming to permit the payroll software to read and understand the information on the card (and translate that to hours worked).  We will, however, do some research on costs vs. benefits and do appreciate the suggestion.

March 19, 2015 -- Premera notification


Why has there been no official notification from Premera about their breech of information to UA employees? I first read about it in the News Miner, followed up by limited information from UA. This has been poorly handled.


We can't speak for Premera, but we can tell you that the University of Alaska Office of Human Resources was notified, by Premera Blue Cross representatives, the afternoon of March 17 that the scope of the Cyberattack they experienced might have affected our current and past employees. We quickly coordinated and discussed our plan of notification to the UA community.

Premera will be sending out letters of notification to all affected individuals outlining the steps people need to take to protect their information. For information about their process of handling the issue please go to: http://www.premeraupdate.com/

March 19, 2015 -- Credit cards at the Post Office on campus


Is there a good reason the post office doesn't take credit cards?  They made me come all the way to the Bursar's office to have my card swiped and bring back a receipt. I asked them why, and the girl working there agreed with me that they should. What's the hold up?


From  Marianne Freelong, Facilities Services

Our post office is a contract station via the U.S. Postal Service and within the contract with the U.S.P.S is the provision that we cannot accept credit cards for transactions at this time. We understand that this is a difficult provision during this day and age, but it cannot be changed.

We're working on a better way to pay for boxes with credit cards for the fall. 

March 19, 2015 -- Empty office space in the Eielson Building


What will be going in the empty offices on the first floor of the Eielson Building? It seems like a waste to have such prime space sitting vacant.


From Kris Racina, vice chancellor for university and student advancement

Plans are underway for the ROTC to move into  first floor Eielson building in May 2015. The vice chancellor for university and student advancement is coordinating the move with ROTC and the School of Management and will make a formal announcement as soon as plans are finalized. We are pleased to welcome our ROTC partners to the Eielson Building.

March 19, 2015 -- Gravel trucks on campus


When I was being dropped off in front of Eielson today, the gravel truck went by (headed towards Lola Tilly). It sprayed gravel on my car and the car in front on mine from only a couple of feet away. Both vehicles were stationary so it wasn't like they drove too close to the back of the truck. Was there something we should have been doing differently to avoid having our cars pelted with rocks?


From Marianne Freelong, Facilities Services

There is nothing you should have had to do. We will speak to the driver about being more careful around cars, and people.

March 18, 2015 -- Wellness incentive program and Fitbit


If our wellness program is requiring us to get 80,000 points in a month that has to be tracked through Fitbit, do employees get a free Fitbit? How are those of us without a Fitbit supposed to track our activity levels?


From Sara Rodewald, dedicated on-site program manager for Healthyroads

The new Connected! portion of the website went live on March 1. With it, you can connect a fitness device or app to be able to track your activity. You do not have to have a Fitbit; as there are many options available. If you do not have a fitness device or a smart phone to download an app, Fitbit is simply being used to self-report your activity.
You are correct that activity incentive points are now available as one way to get the five additional credits to meet the incentive for the year. They are only available for the months of March and April so two points maximum is what you would be able to earn. However, there are many other options to earn those five points if this is not convenient for you. There are many annual exams, attesting to being tobacco-free, online classes, coaching sessions and university-sponsored challenges.
If you have any additional questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me directly at sararo@ashn.com.

March 17, 2015 -- Wellness credits


I am trying to get my required 5 credits for the wellness program benefits. I had my yearly doctor appointment in early January and have not received my credit for that appointment. I have submitted a request through Healthyroads to have that added and have seen no response or update. How do I resolve this?

I will also add that I received 2 credits by taking online courses through the website. I had to take 16 courses to get these 2 credits and did not learn a single thing. I took the required tests and passed without watching any of the videos. This is all common sense.

In this budget climate, why are we spending so much money for an out-of-state company to tell us that eating less and exercising more can help me lose weight? I get the same advice by watching Dr Oz, and that is at no cost to UA.


From Erika Van Flein, Director of Benefits

The annual wellness exam, as well as the dental exams and adult immunizations, are being sent to Healthyroads by Premera on a bi-weekly basis. These claims started being sent in February, with the first file feed including claims going back to July 1, 2014. There can be a lag in when this information is sent to Healthyroads depending on when your provider submits the claim to Premera. Also, we recently learned that not all procedure codes describing these exams were included in the file feed. Some of these claims show as "professional visit" or similar descriptors and were not being captured in the file feed. Premera has now updated the codes to include and has sent an additional file to Healthyroads that should post to members' accounts soon.

If you have questions about the website, your incentive points or credits earned, please contact our program manager Sara Rodewald at SaraRo@ashn.com or 450-8203.

There are approximately 200 online courses you can take and some will be very basic and some will go into deeper levels of detail. Not everyone has the same understanding of health topics so there is something there for everyone.

March 5, 2015 -- Coffee drinks


The espresso coffee drinks (lattes, etc.) at the various coffee shops have gotten very weak in recent weeks. It used to be a good strong drink; now it tastes like milk with dishwater. At the prices being charged, it should be a strong well-flavored drink. I've heard this from a number of people, especially for the kiosk at the library. Apparently the brewed coffee in the pots is still fine. Can something be done?


From Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, Contracts Manager of Auxiliary, Recharge and Contract Operations

Each of our baristas are in the process of being trained by North Pole Coffee on how to ensure consistency in each of the drinks made. In the future, if the drink doesn't meet your standards please return it to the barista and ask her to remake it. If that doesn't work, you can contact our office at uaf-dining@alaska.edu so we can help fix the problem in a more timely manner than the Grapevine.

March 5, 2015 -- Tobacco product use on campus


  1. Is it true that smoking is now banned on all UA campuses?

  2. Is it true that UAF is refusing to involve university personnel in enforcing the ban, and is instead placing the burden on those bothered by smoke to ask those flouting the ban to stop (even when there are signs posted that indicate that smoking is prohibited in the area in question)?


From Kris Racina, Fresh Air Committee

President Pat Gamble and the University of Alaska Board of Regents adopted the Tobacco Free Campus regulation in December of last year. The basics of the policy are as follows:

  • Tobacco product use is prohibited in all buildings, grounds, trails, parking garages, parking lots (except personally-owned vehicles not parked in parking garage), university-owned streets and sidewalks, and spaces leased or owned by the university.
  • Applies to all employees, students, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors.
  • Tobacco products include, but are not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, kreteks, bidis, and other inhalable burning substances, and all smokeless tobacco and tobacco-containing products.

UAF has opted to phase in this new regulation over the course of this calendar year, which means it will go into effect on Dec. 31, 2015, but we’d like to remind the campus community that smoking within 50 feet of any of university building entrances is currently prohibited.

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