Friday Focus: Internal improvement initiatives

Amanda Wall, associate vice chancellor for financial and business services
Amanda Wall, associate vice chancellor for financial and business services

Feb. 2, 2024

— By Amanda Wall, associate vice chancellor for financial and business services

In our pursuit of operational excellence at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, I am delighted to share exciting developments in our internal improvement initiatives. Our journey toward achieving R1 status encompasses various access points within Financial and Business Services, including enhancing travel support, research and sponsored project administration, and general employee onboarding and engagement experiences. By stabilizing and strengthening these areas, we ensure that expert service and resources are consistently provided to the UAF community, facilitating progress toward the R1 goal.

The Office of Management and Budget serves as UAF’s partner in navigating the complexities of institutional management, providing budget planning and strategic alignment, and leading continuous improvement efforts. OMB offers a suite of services committed to integrity, neutrality, and strategic thinking.

Housed within OMB’s Continuous Improvement Program, the UAF Process Improvement and Training Crew provides facilitation support focused on organizational process creation, process improvement, and strategic planning. The PIT Crew empowers cross-departmental teams to understand existing processes, identify areas for improvement, and engage in radical process redesign.

Did you know that they also facilitate special projects that are designed according to a department’s needs and consider conditions surrounding the work? For example, OGCA has recently partnered with the PIT Crew on a special project that combines creating new training tools for their staff with small-scale process improvement. This project was influenced by the newness of the OGCA team — more than half of the team was hired within the last six months! In addition to creating process flowcharts to support staff and OGCA customers, OGCA’s special project team will also pinpoint opportunities for improvement ‘quick wins’ to promptly enhance both customer experience and streamline internal processes for OGCA staff. The approach involves strategizing short-term, mid-term, and long-term improvements. Regular meetings among the PIT Crew facilitators, OGCA leadership, and relevant stakeholders are scheduled to ensure progress continues and provide an accountability structure for change implementation.

OMB is also actively engaged in the state of Alaska and federal budget cycles, providing budget planning, financial analysis, and scenario modeling. OMB is currently working on revamping its website and creating new graphics to help the UAF community understand the budget cycle and how financial resources are allocated at UAF.

While on the Troth Yeddha’ campus, drop by the Employee Welcome and Resource Center in our newly designated space in 104 Eielson. Explore and discover more about our onboarding and engagement initiatives.

New Employee Welcome events for this semester will take place on Feb. 8 and April 4. For our remote employees, we're developing a most effective solution. In the meantime, we now provide a monthly 60-minute overview for remote employees through Zoom. Invitations are sent via email to new employees.

Thanks to Carla Browning, Ronnie Houchin, and Derek Bastille at UAF for their valuable contributions to the Employee Feedback and Assessment Committee during the recent employee experience survey. We’re looking forward to working with leaders on the next steps to enhance services and resources for UAF employees.

In the meantime, please review the UAF Employee Experience website. There, you’ll find a new-employee checklist and resource links geared toward new employees.  If you have questions, please email

As we navigate the dynamic landscape of UAF, your unique perspectives and insights are invaluable in steering positive change. Thank you for helping us understand how we can better meet your needs and all of the contributions you are making to improve how we do business!

Friday Focus is a column written by a different member of UAF's leadership team every week. On occasion, a guest writer is invited to contribute a column.