August 2013

Aug. 29, 2013 -- Alumni giving

QUESTION

How much does UAF Alumni give back to the university in addition to the alumni fees? If as an alum I want to give to a certain department, can I do that? How will I know that it goes there?

RESPONSE

More than 1,400 UAF alumni gave back to the university in FY13 for a total of  $518,646. Donors are always welcome to contribute to a program (or area) of their choice at UAF. Development staff are availalble to speak with you about options or you're welcome to make a gift online via our secure site. The gift can be designated as unrestricted gift to the Chancellor’s fund or to a specific area. The area you choose to support will be reflected on the charitable gift receipt from the UA Foundation and will be noted in a stewardship letter.

Aug. 29, 2013 -- Worn out plaque

QUESTION

On the north lawn of Arctic Health, there is a tree and plaque dedicated to Dr. Leslie Viereck. Unfortunately, the plaque and its wooden base have seen some damage. The wood is warping and the corners of the plaque have broken off. I suggest that we look into repairing or replacing it with materials that might be more durable.

RESPONSE

Thank you for your suggestion. It's been forwarded to Facilities Services for consideration. We'll update the post here, if a solution is found.

Aug. 29, 2013 -- Microsoft Word for low-income students

QUESTION

Is it true that low-income students may receive from UAF free Microsoft Word software or other software needed for schoolwork for their personal computers?

RESPONSE

From Alex Taylor, OIT Helpdesk

The Microsoft license for UAF does not cover students.

Microsoft does have student discounts for Microsoft Office (around $139.99).
Scroll down to "Software you'll use everyday" for Office options.

There are free alternatives.

A cloud hosted option is Google Drive, which is available through UAF student Google Apps @ UA accounts. Google Apps Docs, Sheets, and Slides are compatible with Microsoft Office. Google Apps makes for easy collaboration with other students. With Google Drive installed on a computer or mobile device, the files can be synced, allowing for offline editing, and easy updates between devices.

An installed application alternative is LibreOffice.
LibreOffice is an open source Office Suite application that is also compatible with Microsoft Office.
 

Aug. 29, 2013 -- Performance evaluations

QUESTION

There have been two grapevine questions about performance evaluations.  Is enforcing them a real thing?  I have to say it's not happening in my department.

RESPONSE

We are now tracking performance evaluations for UAF. Human Resources will be contacting supervisors who have not completed performance evaluations in the last 12 months on their direct subordinates.  Performance evaluations are required for the following reasons:

1.  UA Regulation requires evaluations to be completed annually.

2.  In order to maintain accreditation - all staff must be evaluated annually.

3.  It is a meaningful process that provides employees with feedback on their performance. Evaluations are tools to discuss and document development goals

Aug. 28, 2013 -- Polar Perk website updated

QUESTION

What is the point of "This Week at Polar Perk" on www.uafdining.com if it hasn't been updated in three weeks?

RESPONSE

From Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, interim contracts manager

Thanks for letting us know!  We apologize for not updating “This week at Polar Perk” recently. We've  been working to overhaul the website and neglected to update the page. Within the next few weeks, you'll notice a lot of changes and updates where we hope to provide you with timely and up-to-date information. Thank you for your patience.

Aug. 23, 2013 -- UAF's website navigation and content managment system

QUESTION

I have just spent over 30 unsuccessful minutes trying to find the Final Exam schedule for this coming Fall 2013 semester.  Why is this hard to find? Mostly I get 'warnings' that UAF is tracking the pages I'm looking at. Does anyone think that's friendly for perspective students?

UAF's website is not very good (sorry Marketing) and Roxen is horrible to use (our Department uses our own server because it's so bad). I bet the chancellor hasn't been informed at how unhappy the Departments are with Roxen; why are we still using this terrible tool?

RESPONSE

I'm sorry you experienced frustration trying to find the final exam schedule. A link to the schedule can be found from the UAF>Academics page (http://www.uaf.edu/uaf/academics/) under Catalogs and Schedules. You can also find this information by using the search box; "final exam schedule" will result with the link as the first option.

In an effort to address your concerns about the difficulty of final exam dates, we've added the link in the academic calendar (available as a Google calendar) at http://www.uaf.edu/calendars/academic/ and in the academic catalog at http://www.uaf.edu/catalog/current/acad_calendar.html. The detailed final exams schedule is part of the Registration Guide and can be found online at http://www.uaf.edu/register/finals/.

Regarding the warnings you experienced, this is an error related to Google docs that users should not experience. Please contact me at jlbaker@alaska.edu or 907-474-6863 to troubleshoot.

As for your concerns with Roxen, OIT continues to make improvements to the platform with improved templates and added functionality, while continuing to investigate other potential enterprise-level web content management systems that will meet UAF's needs. If there is a web content management system you'd like OIT to consider, please send your suggestions to the OIT support center at helpdesk@alaska.edu.

Thank you for bringing these issues to our attention. We appreciate you taking the time to give us feedback and work with us toward improving the UAF website for all of our users. If you would like to continue providing regular feedback on other UAF websites, I encourage you to join our UAF web user testing Google group at https://groups.google.com/a/alaska.edu/forum/#!forum/uaf-web-user-testing-team. The group is comprised of faculty, staff, students and community members who are periodically sent sites to test and review. If you have immediate suggestions, please send these to uaf.web@alaska.edu. We are interested in your thoughts.

Aug. 23, 2013 -- Battery recycling stations

QUESTION

I know about the battery recycling area at the Rasmuson Library, but is there a similar station on West Ridge?

RESPONSE

Yes, there is another station in the Mather Libary located in the Elvey Building.

Aug. 22, 2013 -- Academic catalog

QUESTION

Why does the current catalog link on the main site show information for 2012-2013?

RESPONSE

For about two months of the year (often less), the catalog website is under production, as it takes time to turn the printed version into a decent HTML version. During this time, the /current/ directory of the catalog will include the previous year's catalog, but the homepage of the catalog (www.uaf.edu/catalog/) will include PDFs of the newest version. We do not revise the /current/ directory until the HTML version is complete, as many websites have links to this.

The new HTML version (and, hence, the revision of /current/) should be live by Sept. 3.

Basically, it just takes time to create, and we can't start on it until the new catalog has gone to the printer.
 

Aug. 21, 2013 -- Staff evaluations

QUESTION

There has been some considerable talk lately about enforcement of staff performance evaluations. Everything I have seen so far implied that any performance evaluations are composed by the employee's direct supervisor or someone similar.

My question is, what does a person do if they feel their supervisor may not be accurately representing their actual performance, intentionally or otherwise? In some cases these evaluations could be used in determining pay increases and possibly even retention.

RESPONSE

From Brad Lobland, UAF Human Resources

Yes, that is correct. The evaluation is completed by the direct supervisor or a higher level supervisor in the management chain. Opinions of peers are not part of the evaluation process, but in some cases it may be appropriate to get their feedback.

Employees have the right to respond in writing to the evaluation which is attached to the performance evaluation and placed in the employee's personnel file. Please contact your Human Resources Consultant if you would like to discuss your situation in more detail.

Aug. 13, 2013 -- ORP retirement

QUESTION

I wish I could access my ORP retirement account; according to the investment company, some employers allow this after age 59.5 under certain conditions.

I think it would be good policy to allow older employees to take a portion of this (maybe the amount they have actually contributed?) prior to separation or retirement.  Some employers allow employees of a certain age to take loans against the accounts as well.

This would allow people to make quality of life choices and keep them from having to leave the university in order to access the investment fund.  Many people would like to enjoy some of that money while they are healthy, or diversify their investments with real estate etc and not just leave it all to

RESPONSE

From Erika Van Flein, UA Human Resources

The UA retirement plans are qualified plans governed by Internal Revenue Code and the Retirement Program Plan Document. Distributions are allowed only for employees who have been terminated from all employment for at least 45 days, employees who are 60 or older and no longer in a participating position (e.g. temporary or adjunct only), or employees who are 70 1/2 regardless of employment status. Loans are not allowed from the ORP or UA Pension Plan, but loans are available from the voluntary 403(b) plan.

The age 60 allowance was added a few years ago to address the issue of employees who terminated their regular position and came back right away as a temp or adjunct. Prior to that amendment, they couldn't access their retirement accounts even though they were "retired." We made the plans' official retirement age be age 60 to match the current tiers of PERS and TRS.

Aug. 12, 2013 -- Construction zone traffic

QUESTION

Is there protocol for pedestrians on campus and construction crew vehicles?  Sometimes it's hazardous walking through main campus because trucks and other heavy machinery drive through there way too fast without yielding to pedestrians or park and block pedestrian walkways.  I am referring to the area around Gruening to the Wood Center and Constitution Hall.

RESPONSE

Your question will be shared with the project managers overseeing these areas. The following suggestions for pedestrians do not specifically address construction zones, but both pedestrians and drivers should take extra care on site. Keep in mind that many times heavy equipment operators may not see pedestrians from their vantage point and heavy equipment drivers can't always stop the machinery quickly.

We realize this has been an extraordinarily busy summer for construction in the core of campus and are rapidly nearing the end of these disruptions in order to be ready for the beginning of the fall semester. We appreciate the patience that UAF employees and the public has shown this summer while we make needed safety and operational improvements.

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

Aug. 12, 2013 -- Landscaping between Gruening and Eielson

landscaping

QUESTION

I noticed that the passage area between the Gruening and Eielson Building entrances has had the irises, dogwood, and pansies torn out.  Wood bark and two giant menacing looking and un-sit-able boulders have been put in their place.  Whose idea was this and why was this done?

RESPONSE

From Darrin "Bear" Edson, Facilities Services

The shrubs that were in this location were over grown and under cared for, this will allow us to manage the landscape and keep it clear of snow and debris. Some of the plant material was rescued from the waste of the new engineering building. The wood chips are generated from other landscaping and clearing projects on campus. The large rocks fill a couple roles, as they are leftover from another project, as well as provide a year round attraction to look at. Facilities Crews will be adding some smaller shrubs, just to give the area more depth.

 

Aug. 12, 2013 -- Wellness program

QUESTION

What has happened to the university's wellness provider? I heard WIN got the boot and a California company will take over. What services will they provide and what is the cost? Thank you.

RESPONSE

From Erika Van Flein, UA Human Resources

The contract has not yet been awarded, but we'll update employees once it has been. The  RFP did require most of the same services employees enjoy now. On-site services were a required program element, as were biometric screenings, telephonic and online services. The committee was a 5-person group from around the state (each MAU was represented) and the group reviewed for technical score and pricing to determine the best value for our wellness program. 

Aug. 11, 2013 -- Food grown at the Agrictulture and Forestry Experiment Station

QUESTION

What happens to the produce from the Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station?

RESPONSE

From Nancy Tarnai, SNRAS

At the Fairbanks Experiment Farm on the UAF campus, food grown at the Georgeson Botanical Garden is divided among volunteers. At the research plots, the produce is primarily processed for data collection and analysis. Some is donated for university and community events and to the food bank and soup kitchens. This year the farm is providing some produce for the Farm to School program in Tok and Galena. Grain is grown for research purposes, with seeds retained for future use. Seeds are also shared with the state's Plant Materials Center.

Aug. 2, 2013 -- How to pronounce Gruening

QUESTION

How do you properly pronounce Gruening?  I have been pronouncing it GREEN-ing for 20 years, but sometimes I hear people pronouncing GROON-ing.  Should I correct them, or are they right?

RESPONSE

Earnest Gruening's name is pronounced GREEN-ing.

About the Ernest Gruening Building.
The building was dedicated in May 1972, is an eight-story, 72,000-square-foot structure and the first building on campus more than three stories tall. It was designed to resemble the FBI office building in Washington, D.C.

The Gruening Building houses the College of Liberal Arts and the School of Education as well as classrooms and department offices.

Ernest Gruening was born in New York City in 1886. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1912 but never practiced medicine. He discovered a love for journalism and joined the Boston American as a reporter immediately after graduation. From 1938 to 1942, Gruening was a member of the Alaska International Highway Commission. In 1939, Roosevelt appointed Gruening territorial governor of Alaska. He served 14 years as governor and made statehood his personal campaign.

Aug. 2, 2013 -- Career Services closing

QUESTION

I heard that Career Services is closing and the staff members are being reassigned. Is there a plan for another office to take over the important services this office has provided in the past? Are other offices at risk of closing?
 

RESPONSE

The Office of Career Services will be downsized and eliminated over the course of the next 16 months. During that time, career fairs and other campuswide events scheduled for the 2013-2014 academic year will continue and the office will remain open, but provide fewer services. We will work with university and community partners to create a new long-term plan for student career support services and aim to implement that plan by December 2014.

At this point, we have not eliminated any other departments. We do anticipate leaner budgets in the coming years and will be asking the campus community to help us find cost savings in the future. It's too early to say exactly what those will be, but we want input from everyone. For more information and to offer suggestions for cost savings, visit the Office of Management and Budget website at http://bit.ly/UAFbudget.
 

Aug. 1, 2013 -- Sink hole developing

QUESTION

On the road next to Hess Village (driving in the right lane, uphill, near the snow dump entrance)is a huge sink hole developing in the roadway and the road is buckling. There are no markers indicating the hole or the damage to the road. Can these be clearly marked until they're fixed?

RESPONSE

Facilities Services has filled the hole (temporary repair) while awaiting a contractor to come up campus and make permanent repairs. Please call 474-7000 for Facilities Services dispatch to report maintenance and repair needs.


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