May 2013

May 31, 2013 -- Unnecessary idling of vehicles

QUESTION

There has been a lot of talk about reducing costs because of budgetary issues, including not filling vacant positions immediately and powering down lights and other non-essential electronics. Has anyone asked Parking Services and Facilities Services to avoid leaving vehicles running when they are not in the vehicle? I've recently seen vehicles left running while staff were emptying the coin boxes or doing grounds work. At 40 below this could be necessary, but not at 80 above.

RESPONSE

Parking Services, Facilities Employees and UAF employees leasing FS transportation vehicles are instructed to avoid unnecessarily idling of their vehicles. If you see a vehicle idling unnecessarily idling please contact Facilities Dispatch at 474-7000 with the vehicle number and we will address the specific instance.

Thank you for your suggestion. UAF's leadership is looking for cost-savings ideas via an online suggestion box so feel free to submit yours today.

May 22, 2013 -- Travel procedures and personal credit cards

QUESTION

When we travel for official university reasons, why do we have to use a personal credit card to book and pay for hotel rooms and get reimbursed later? For many people I know this would prohibit them from traveling to conferences and other professional development opportunities.

QUESTION #2

What about for people that only travel once a year or so? An individual travel card seems like a lot of work for the department that has to process the paperwork.

RESPONSE

UA employees can obtain the UA individual travel card. This credit card is in the traveler's name on UA credit. The traveler is responsible to pay the bill but has 60 days to pay this off before interest starts accruing. Information on how to apply for the UA individual travel card can be found at http://www.uaf.edu/procurement/procard-travel-card-infor/travel-card-information/.

RESPONSE #2

The paperwork required is two forms: the Individual Travel Card Agreement and the Individual Travel Card Application. After these forms are completed they are sent to the ProCard Administrator, Helen Connor, for processing. It takes about two or three weeks to get the card. A travel advance can be approved in the amount of 80 percent of the traveler's estimated reimbursable expenses not to exceed $2,500, for an employee that is only traveling once a year, or an employee that is waiting on the travel card to arrive. The Travel Office website is also good source of information and includes a question/suggestion box.
 

May 20, 2013 -- Wood Center open during construction

QUESTION

With all the construction on campus this summer and the budget shortfall why are facilities like the Wood Center being kept open rather then moving their services out of the construction zone and saving on some energy and cleaning costs? I know I don't plan on doing anything on campus this summer and bet a lot of other people will be avoiding it too.

RESPONSE

From Lydia Anderson, Wood Center director

Just the Wood Center general office area (about 9 percent of the current facility) is being renovated, therefore we decided to keep the facility open with reduced hours. The Wood Center will be open from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and closed on weekends. To keep costs at a minimum, we relocated some staff to Copper Lane and the balance of our reduced summer staff have relocated to other parts of the building. Wood Center games and bowling alley are open this summer to serve residential students living on campus. Our staff provides room scheduling, programs for Summer Sessions and is also planning for the fall semester, so we need adequate work space. Please visit our website for staff locations and updated information on construction.

May 20, 2013 -- Staff Appreciation Day scheduling

SUGGESTION

Staff Appreciation Day was awesome this year. I know a lot of hard work went in to making it successful. Perhaps next year it could not coincide with both the last day of open enrollment and the day final grades are due. This would allow for more people to participate in the day's events.

RESPONSE

Thank you for your suggestion. There are many considerations when scheduling Staff Appreciation Day. The staff committee tries to schedule the event after commencement and before employees on nine and ten month contracts are off contract. The committee also takes into consideration the school district calendar, other major events on campus, building schedules and the chancellor's schedule. Employees have indicated that Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays are the least optimal days. Because Staff Appreciation Day fell on the same day as open enrollment, Human Resources consultants were asked to be a part of the health and resource fair at Wood Center to make it more convenient for those employees who waited until the last day to turn in their forms.

May 17, 2013 -- HR staffing on last day of open enrollment

QUESTION

Who decided that it would be appropriate to put a message on the main HR phone (x7700) that says that the HR office is closed from 1 - 5 p.m. May 15 due to Longevity Awards?  Perhaps that person didn't realize that May 15 is the last day of Open Enrollment and there may be some employees who might have a last minute question. Longevity Awards are important, but it would have been great to leave someone who is not receiving an award at the office. 

RESPONSE

Brad Lobland, UAF Human Resources

The Office of Human Resources was aware that May 15 was the last day of open enrollment and also Staff Appreciation Day. Because of our heavy involvement in both activities, we arranged to have two HR consultants set up with computers, benefits forms, and other resources in the Wood Center all day for employee convenience. Consultants also handled questions forwarded to them from the main office. The HR office was open and staffed until 2:45 p.m., with receptionists and a consultant available for last minute questions about open enrollment.

We agree that we could have done a better job of communicating and will plan to do so next year and we apologize for any inconvenience.

May 20, 2013 -- Staff Appreciation Day scheduling

SUGGESTION

Staff Appreciation Day was awesome this year. I know a lot of hard work went in to making it successful. Perhaps next year it could not coincide with both the last day of open enrollment and the day final grades are due. This would allow for more people to participate in the day's events.
 

RESPONSE

There are many considerations when scheduling Staff Appreciation Day, including commencement and making sure to include those employees on nine and ten month employees go off contract. We also take into consideration, the school district calendar, other major events on campus, building schedules and the chancellor's schedule. Employees have also indicated that Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays are the least optimal days. Because Staff Appreciation Day fell on the same day as open enrollment, Human Resources consultants were asked to be a part of the health and resource fair at Wood Center to make it more convenient for those employees who waited until the last day to turn in their forms.

May 17, 2013 -- HR staffing on last day of open enrollment

QUESTION

Who decided that it would be appropriate to put a message on the main HR phone (x7700) that says that the HR office is closed from 1 - 5 p.m. May 15 due to Longevity Awards?  Perhaps that person didn't realize that May 15 is the last day of Open Enrollment and there may be some employees who might have a last minute question. Longevity Awards are important, but it would have been great to leave someone who is not receiving an award at the office. 

RESPONSE

Brad Lobland, UAF Human Resources

The Office of Human Resources was aware that May 15 was the last day of open enrollment and also Staff Appreciation Day. Because of our heavy involvement in both activities, we arranged to have two HR consultants set up with computers, benefits forms, and other resources in the Wood Center all day for employee convenience. Consultants also handled questions forwarded to them from the main office. The HR office was open and staffed until 2:45 p.m., with receptionists and a consultant available for last minute questions about open enrollment.

We agree that we could have done a better job of communicating and will plan to do so next year and we apologize for any inconvenience.

May 17, 2013 -- Form frustration

QUESTION
Why is it that HR consistently creates PDF files which don't have forms fields that can be filled in electronically?  Not only are fields that can be filled in convenient but they also reduce any kind of transcription errors that come from poor handwriting. The most recent relevant form is the FY 14 UA Choice Enrollment Form.

This lack of quality control before publishing PDFs that should have form fields is both mind-boggling and frustrating at the same time.

RESPONSE

Erika Van Flein, UA Human Resources

Great suggestion. We'll make sure they are enterable next year. Eventually, we would like to have an online enrollment, but the current version of Banner doesn't support it. The system was not created with this in mind, and it's something that will require additional resources to implement. We're looking at other options too.

As a result of your Grapevine question, UAF Marketing and Communications staff created enterable forms for tuition waivers this morning and they will be made available online soon.

May 16, 2013 -- Music wing construction disruption

QUESTION

With finals week not ending before Saturday, May 15, how is it that the construction in the Music Wing forced an Art/Music/Theatre/Film Multimedia Lab to be emptied before May 12? When did such construction projects take priority from academics?

RESPONSE

From Martin Klein, Facilities Services

Scheduling construction projects a UAF can be a challenge. The contractors frequently have a large amount of work to do and we ask them to do it in a very short summer window. This project has a projected completion date before the start of school in the fall to avoid disruption to academic activities. Our apologies for the inconvenience you may have experienced with this start up, but hopefully this will allow less disruption next fall.

For more information about construction projects, visit www.uaf.edu/construction.

May 15, 2013 -- Polar Perk dining options

QUESTION

Is there a way to get a schedule ahead of time for the Polar Perk daily lunch special? Since there is only one option available each day, it would be nice to plan ahead for the items that sounds appealing.

RESPONSE

Polar Perk is trying some new items in an effort to determine the best food options for the summer. UAF Dining anticipates posting a set menu for Polar Perk for the summer after the Memorial Day holiday.  Breakfast pastries, grab and go sandwiches and salads will always be available during the summer. The menu will be posted at www.uafdining.com.
 

May 13, 2013 -- Wood Center dining hours this summer

QUESTION

Are the dining locations going to be available at the Wood Center through the summer?

RESPONSE

Thanks for your inquiry regarding the summer hours in the Wood Center. University officials have been working diligently to ensure food service is available at multiple locations around campus this summer. As such, the summer food service hours on campus will be as follows:

Wood Center (Monday - Friday):  7:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. (lunch:  11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.)
West Ridge Cafe (Monday - Friday):  7:30 a..m. - 3 p.m.
Campus Cache (located inside MBS):  Monday - Friday 1 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. / Sat. - Sun. 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Museum Cafe (7 days per week):  10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Lola Tilly Dining Commons will also be open for lunch and dinner during the summer. Please check

www.uafdining.com

for hours of operation as hours may vary. Please note the website will be up-to-date after May 20 as times are currently being finalized with visiting groups.

May 10, 2013 -- Dog pettting in Rasmuson Library

SUGGESTION

Kudos to whomever arranged for dog petting in the Rasmuson Library at exam time. It was calming and uplifting for students, staff, and faculty (and the dogs were very happy as well).  This is an idea that should be repeated in many contexts and situations around UAF. Hoorah for fuzzy wellnness breaks!



May 9, 2013 -- Recycling program at UAF

QUESTION

Various students and media outlets have said recycling is being discontinued on campus. Initially, it sounded like only the Taku dumpsters were being removed. Please clarify.

Is all recycling on campus going away, or are just the one set of dumpsters being removed?

RESPONSE

Recycling on campus will continue. We are just removing the Dumpsters from the Taku parking lot. While we will continue recycling waste generated as part of university operations, the university is no longer able to provide an open-access drop-off point for the public. For more information about other options for recycling items from your home, visit Interior Alaska Green Star online at http://iagreenstar.org.


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