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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July 27, 2015 -- Availability of mailing supplies

QUESTION

Will supplies like flat rate boxes still available after the changes are made to the campus post office?

RESPONSE

Mailing supplies will still be available at the campus post office location.

July 21, 2015 -- UAF statements

QUESTION

Why did UAF not release a statement about the Ted Stevens Papers leaving Fairbanks? The decision by the Ted Stevens Foundation was made back in February and now we hear the news through Dermot Cole. This makes UAF look incredibly irresponsible.

RESPONSE

From Marmian Grimes, public information officer

While the university does send out broad announcements to employees regarding major organizational, policy and budgetary changes, changes to things like library or museum holdings are not routinely announced to all employees. In addition, the university was and still is working out the details of the transfer, but does respond to media inquiries when they come in.

July 21, 2015 -- Personal holidays for staff

QUESTION

Is it true that staff doesn't get personal holidays anymore? If so, how come this hasn't been communicated to us?

RESPONSE

From Erik Seastedt, chief human resources officer

The extension of the personal holiday to exempt employees, and giving an additional personal holiday to non-exempt employees, was for FY15 only. We've gone back to the way it was in FY14 and previous years: the equivalent of one personal day off for non-represented non-exempt employees (up to 8 hours) after satisfying their 6 month new hire probationary period. It hasn't been broadly communicated yet, so thank you for bringing it to our attention.

July 15, 2015 -- Post office changes

QUESTION

How come there hasn't been any information about changes to the post office?

RESPONSE

From Martin Klein, Facilities Services

As a cost savings measure, the UAF Post Office will be changing how services are delivered to customers. The counter service will be discontinued Oct. 1. A kiosk will be installed in August. The kiosk will allow you to mail packages and purchase postage using a credit card, which is something we haven’t offered in the past.
Package pick up will remain as it is now with box holders receiving notice of packages in their boxes and pick up at a window from noon- 3 p.m. MondayFriday.  Later this year, UAF will be installing package lockers to allow box holders to pick up packages from a locker using a code. Oversize packages will still be available at the window. Hours may be adjusted depending on the volume.
The changes were made due to rising costs. The U.S Postal Service had subsidized the contract station for many years, but the subsidies did not keep pace with the costs of operations.
If you have feedback for how this is working, please let us know by filling out a customer feedback form. http://www.uaf.edu/fs/services/postoffice/

 

July 13, 2015 -- Snack vending machines

QUESTION

I noticed that the snack vending machine has been removed from the Nook (and didn't seem to be refilled at all this summer). Will it be replaced? Are there any listings available online of which buildings (and where) vending machines are located?

RESPONSE

From Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, Dining Services Contracts Manager

The snack vending contract was awarded to a new vendor this summer and we have been working with the new vendor to switch machines over and ensure they are properly stocked in accordance to the contract.  Machines should be fully operational and stocked by the start of the fall semester.

July 7, 2015 -- Nenana shuttle

QUESTION

How about activating the Nenana shuttle whenever air quality deteriorates due to smoke, so people don't have to walk to cars in unhealthy air?

RESPONSE

The Nenana shuttle runs from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and then again from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
An alternative to parking in the Nenana Lot, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. is to park at the Museum.
During this time, the shuttle is running on the Yukon Route, which stops at the Museum every 10-13 minutes and can take passengers to the north side of Wood Center.

July 7, 2015 -- Air quality

QUESTION

Indoor air quality is important. With all the PM 2.5 in the air in Fairbanks from wood smoke in the winter and forest fires in the summer will UAF be outfitting building ventilation systems with filters so students and employees can have clean air indoors even if they community and nature choose to do nothing about it? If not, can employees use sick leave to avoid the poor indoor air quality?

RESPONSE

In periods of heavy smoke, UAF is frequently asked if we can keep wildfire smoke out of UAF's buildings.
Air in most buildings on campus is conditioned to make it comfortable. Large fans bring in air from outside and push it through filters. The air is heated or cooled, depending on the season, and then sent through ducts to offices, labs and classrooms. While the filters remove dust particles, they cannot remove smoke.

If we shut down the fans, buildings would become stuffy and hot.

Our laboratory buildings have fume hoods that must exhaust air, and campus labs contain sensitive equipment that must be kept in cooled spaces. If we run exhaust fans but not supply fans, we would just suck in more smoke through doors, windows and even building cracks. We'd also risk damaging sensitive equipment.
By running the fans all the time, we remove dust particles and control temperatures to provide the most comfortable spaces we can.
Unfortunately, we're limited in our solutions during wildland fire season. 

People with sensitivities to smoke may benefit from an N-95 mask available at most stores with a hardware department or a safety gear section. Masks with exhalation valves are the most comfortable. They should fit snugly on the face. Put masks in plastic at the end of the day to avoid getting particulates inside them.

You may also find that a portable HEPA air filter in your office may help the air quality.

If you have specific health issues, please work with your supervisor about appropriate work options such as flexible work schedule or options to work from home. Where work options are not possible, the supervisor can advise on appropriate leave options.

Below is a link to the Fairbanks North Star Borough's near-real-time air quality page. Choose the red icon to pull up the average particulate matter (PM 2.5) numbers to help guide you with activity levels and health issues. 

 

 

June 26, 2015 -- Food trucks on campus

QUESTION

I recognize that the university has a dining contractor and an associated exclusive vendor contract. It doesn't seem to me that the contractor would lose much if food trucks were allowed on campus because the dining contractor is not doing much business here in the summer anyway.

I'd hope that the chancellor would be supportive of the idea of food trucks on the campus in the summer since as a student here he ran a food truck of sorts (The Lemon Tree) on campus during the summer in his early days here.

Hope you can find time to respond...

RESPONSE

From Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, Dining Services Contracts Manager

Dining Services is currently piloting a food truck on West Ridge beginning this Friday, June 26th for the summer. If this is successful, we'll look into working with other vendors as well. Leadership is supportive of having food trucks on campus but the food truck industry is largely unregulated and as such, can be a safety concern.

Several food truck explosions have occurred in the lower 48 as a result of the lack of regulation. We are working with the university fire department and fire marshall to determine how best to serve the campus community while keeping everyone safe. Thanks for your suggestion and in the future, please email any other suggestions directly to Dining Services at uaf-dining@alaska.edu.

June 25, 2015 -- Sponsoring flower beds

QUESTION

I've seen a flowerbed with a sign honoring a person. What's up with that?  Is he somebody important?

RESPONSE

UAF Groundskeeping has a new program that invites individuals to sponsor flower beds or planters. The sponsors are responsible for planting, watering, weeding and any other necessary care, and in return can have a sign acknowledging their contribution or honoring someone else.

Anyone who is interested in sponsoring can contact Bear Edson; there are no more sponsorships available this year, but next spring there will be another opportunity.

June 18, 2015 -- Distracted driving

QUESTION

We are thoroughly trained to be safe in our workplace. UAF will be a smoke-free Campus at the end of this year. Why do the Campus Police not ticket people who drive while talking on their cell phones? I thought it was against State law.

RESPONSE
From Keith Mallard, UAF Police Cheif

While it's against the law to text and drive, it's not illegal to talk on the phone. It's certainly safer to focus completely on the task of driving, however. 

June 12, 2015 -- Interim Chancellor Search

QUESTION

What is the timeline for naming an interim chancellor?

RESPONSE

Pat Gamble, UA President

Interim Chancellor Search
A list of fully qualified interim candidates has been reviewed and accepted by Chancellor Rogers and myself. We are in the process of contacting these candidates to determine their availability (the successful interim candidate is expected to occupy the position for 10-12 months). Once that has been completed the list will be presented to UAF faculty and staff for written/email comment/recommendation to me, and I will decide not later than the end of July. That leaves a full month for overlap.

Permanent Chancellor Search
A formal search for the UAF chancellor will convene when faculty come back on contract in August. The administration of the search process will be conducted by UAF Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Kari Burrell, acting as a non-voting member in charge of the committee organization. UAF faculty and staff will be asked to draw up an appropriate search committee, its composition and numbers. My expectation is that UAF will want wide representation. The selection process for recommending chancellor candidate(s) will be determined by that committee. I would expect a wide search and a full vetting process to be favored. If so that will shape the overall time table. Once presented with a recommendation the UA president will inform the Board of Regents and will confirm the final decision.

June 12, 2015 -- American Flag

QUESTION

I drive past Butrovich every morning going to work and have noticed that more often than not (or what feels like it) the American flag is lower on its flag pole than the Alaskan flag is. This morning was probably the worst I've seen it. This is unacceptable and needs to be remedied.

RESPONSE
From Marianne Freelong, Customer Service Manager, Facilities Services

The mechanism holding the flags up is failing and the flags slip on a daily basis.  We are still in the process of locating parts that will resolve the problem.

June 2, 2015 -- Dining options

QUESTION

Last time I ate at Dine 49 the cashier told me my meal was already paid for. Apparently the person in front of me had added $100 from their "Munch Money" because they had too much and nowhere else to spend it. Apparently dorm residents are required to purchase $2000 worth of food each term. That's a lot of food -- more than most students can eat on campus. I've heard that this arrangement may be changing, but new plans will not be announced until July.

Meanwhile, my daughter will be starting at UAF in the fall, and we need to make a decision as to whether to apply for residence halls. Since the application process includes a non-refundable fee, I am reluctant to apply without knowing how much food she will be required to eat each term. Is there any way we can find this out in advance?

RESPONSE
From Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, Contracts manager

Meal plans are currently under negotiation with our new contractor and should be finalized by end of June.  Please check the dining website at www.uaf.edu/dining for information or contact the office at 474-6661.  Once the plans are finalized, we'll post the information (and resulting application) online so students can made decisions for the upcoming academic year.

June 2, 2015 -- Layoff notices

QUESTION

I read that the governor has begun sending layoff notices to state employees. Will UAF employees also be getting these notices, or are they not considered state employees?

RESPONSE
From Kari Burell, Vice Chancellor and Executive Officer

The State of Alaska mailed layoff warnings to thousands of state employees due to the lack of a funded budget for FY16, however, President Gamble and the three chancellors have decided that, for now, the university will not be issuing similar blanket layoff notices.

The university has multiple revenue sources, in addition to state funding, so have more flexibility in managing budget uncertainties than the state does. 

 

June 1, 2015 -- Blood work

QUESTION

My physician only has my blood work done every three years because it's not necessary to have it done annually if an individual is healthy.  So, what is Healthyroads' justification for helping drive health care costs up by insisting on annual blood work for the rebate?

RESPONSE
From Erika Van Flein, Director of Benefits

Increased screening (like many other wellness activities) does tend to increase short term costs and in general healthy individuals don't need routine blood work annually. However, our goal is to see a gradual decrease in the number of high risk individuals, so it's important to get a history over time of our "cohort group" to measure the trends in our population. The cohort group is the group that participates each year. One thing we've considered as we go forward with this program is that members whose numbers are in the healthy range can get "credit" for the following year and not need to repeat the screening. For the FY16 program design though, we will be requiring the biometric screening again.
 
Healtyroads is administering the University of Alaska's wellness program. The plan design is developed by mutual agreement between the university's Joint Health Care Committee, Healthyroads and our consultant, Lockton. 

June 1, 2015 -- Pedestrian path project

QUESTION

There's quite a lot of brush cutting, tree removal, land gouging, and deep tire track-making near the ski trailhead off Sheep Creek Rd. Also many trees were removed at the corner of Sheep Creek and Miller Hill Rd. Can we please get accurate information on what's happening there?

RESPONSE

From Mary Pagel, Project Manager

The clearing and grubbing operation marks the beginning of the Yankovich/Miller Hill Multi-Use Pedestrian Path project.  The project, administered by the Department of Transportation, will provide the community with an 8' wide separated path  (separated from the roadway).  The new path will begin on campus adjacent to the roundabout and continue along the north side of West Tanana Drive, on to Sheep Creek, Miller Hill and Yankovich.  This phase will terminate at LARS.  When DOT obtains the final right of way, the path will extend all the way to Ballaine Road.
For additional information, please contact Meadow Bailey at (907) 378-2340 or meadow.bailey@alaska.gov

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