June 8 annual meeting overview July 14 meeting overview:
The Statewide Administration Assembly met on July 14 in the Sherman Carter conference room. The next SAA meeting will be Wednesday, August 10, at 10 a.m. All meetings are open to the public and statewide workers are encouraged to contact their governance group to address workplace concerns, policies, and other matters affecting statewide staff.
President Gamble spoke with the group about the strategic planning process for the university, the budget and described the 360 review for system executives.
To better describe the strategic plan it’s been decided to change the plan’s title to “Change in Strategic Direction.” Terry McTaggart will be coming on board again to help direct the planning. A key element in the strategic direction is the need to increase student retention rates, with an eye toward eliminating what clogs up the system and remove inefficiencies. For student success we need to focus on assisting our students in getting through school within four years. Staying in school longer contributes to student debt and uses up floor space. We need to help shape the future, not react to it.
National demographics show that there will be no new growth in high school graduates in the next decade, along with no major Alaska population growth. With this information in hand, it was decided that UA would only plan for the short-term, budget wise, until the global financial future forecast clears. The university impressed the legislature by showing a 25 percent reduction across the board on our budget. The budget for the next two years will be concentrating on deferred maintenance and renewal & repurposing. The goal is to NOT raise tuition to help keep education affordable for our students.
New regulations changing the tuition benefit is now in draft form. The biggest concern seems to be how to handle failed classes. In the draft, only truly failed classes need to be reimbursed. If a class is failed there will be a process in place that you can challenge the grade to avoid the reimbursement. Employees will also have the option of dropping a class if their workload precludes them from finishing a class. The newly proposed waiver will list only classes that the waiver covers, not all classes taken. Dependent waiver eligibility will be based on Standard Academic Progress criteria, the same as any other financial aid. Also, a new dependent eligibility verification process will be implemented.
Employee Performance Evaluation Update
Gamble emphasized that evaluations are important, not just to the system but also to the person being evaluated. The 360 degree evaluations that are being implemented for system executives address the whole person. A code of conduct would likely come from the results of the evaluations. The plan is to make performance evaluations a standard process. HR is currently working with supervisors on how to provide feedback on the form. It was stressed that evaluations will not be linked to pay.
Voice Over IP Project
David Hill of UAF Telephone Services spoke to the group on the status of Telephone Services switching UAF and Statewide phones over to Voice Over IP. VoIP is running the telephone services over the same network as data and multi-media. This saves money and streamlines services by maintaining one line instead of two. The conversion will cover about 50 buildings and 3,000 handsets when completed. Phase I will cover Duckering which should be completed this fall. Phase 2 will involve the Butrovich Building and Signers Hall, to be completed the first part of the new year. Faxes, elevators, and secured lines will stay analog. Departments will be contacted as they are being converted.
Last November’s ice storm revealed weak points on communication. Since then, Emergency Services has been working with the president to standardize emergency procedures. A drive is underway to enhance emergency notification, especially to forward text alerts to cell phones. Nixle is the program that sends alerts to cell phones, while Alertus notifications will flash across 3,000 computer screens across campus. Butrovich Building falls under UAF emergency procedures. Emergency management awareness training was conducted July 18 and 22 for Butrovich employees. An emergency preparedness exercise was conducted July 27. In the future, the Bragaw Office Building in Anchorage will have an emergency preparedness exercise.