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Stay on TRACK Launches Second Year with New Campaign and Plane Ticket Giveaway

Click on image to enter contest!

The Stay on TRACK campaign launched its second year on Oct. 29, with a new theme encouraging students to take more credits and “Get It Done,” which is a shift from last year’s “Finish in Four” theme.

The new campaign will feature a giveaway that includes prizes for students, staff, faculty and alumni. Students can enter the social media campaign to win two tickets on Alaska Airlines. Staff, faculty and alumni have the opportunity to win $250 for the department of their choice through the giveaway. (ENTER HERE) Participants need to enter the contest online, and post a picture of themself holding up how many fingers it will take/did take to graduate with their undergraduate degree. A winner in each category will be randomly selected at the end of the campaign on December 20.

This year’s Stay on TRACK launch includes associate degree seeking students. The first phase of the campaign focused on first time, full-time bachelor’s degree seeking students.

“We wanted to kick off this year’s campaign with a fun approach. Social media is the obvious choice, and the dream of taking your best friend on vacation is an inspiring incentive. It’s simple to enter. And, it makes you stop and think about your path to graduation as you hold up your fingers,” said Mary Gower, statewide director of enrollment services.

The campaign and giveaway are grounded in the philosophy that students and the university can take deliberate actions to graduate in a timelier manner, which brings many benefits including saving money. Estimates show that it costs a student an extra $10,000 to graduate in five years instead of four years.   

Students typically consider enrollment in 12 credits a semester to be acceptable full-time enrollment since federal financial aid only requires enrollment in 12 credits. The campaign’s target is to shift the norm back to students taking 15 credits a semester, or 30 credits in a year. Stay on TRACK has had measureable success so far. Fall 2012 showed an overall 11.3 percent increase in UA students enrolling in 15 or more credits.

UA surveyed students about Stay on TRACK program (results found at 2012 Stay on TRACK survey report.) According to Gower, the results showed Stay on TRACK had a generally positive reception from students at its start in October of 2011. A total of 84 percent reported a neutral or more positive impression of the campaign. Students at rural and satellite campuses received the campaign even better with 95 percent having a neutral or positive impression. Students surveyed who were taking 15 credits said they had “made up their mind” to get their degree completed.

“It was very much a result of a personal decision and having an attitude to get it done,” Gower said.

Gamble Reaches Out to Kodiak Community for FSMI Guidance

President visits community as part of the Fisheries Seafood Maritime Initiative

Story and photos by Monique Musick

Clouds completely enveloped the twin prop plane operated by Era Alaska as President Gamble flew to Kodiak for a community outreach tour as part of the Fisheries Seafood Maritime Initiative (FSMI). Weather delayed arrival by a couple of hours, and the wind and rain was still driving sideways as passengers walked across the tarmac to the small airport terminal. Regent Pat Jacobson was there to great Gamble and welcome him to her hometown. Quentin Fong, Seafood Marketing Specialist at UAF’s Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center, also the guide and tour coordinator for the Kodiak visit, was waiting with agendas, information and a van to transport the group around the island.
 
This was Gamble’s second trip to meet one-on-one with industry leaders and community members whose livelihood depends on Alaska’s fishing, seafood or maritime industries as part of FSMI. The goal of the initiative is to collect direct feedback on specific training and workforce development needs in these vital job sectors so that the university can align their program offerings to support and enhance these industries. Kodiak is an ideal place to find people involved in all aspects of these industries. FULL STORY

Health Care Costs Could Have Significant Impact on the Future

Click image to go to the Health Care Actuals FY 12 Review.

Article Four in the Series on Health Care

by Rachel Voris

A few years ago when I was going through the awkward transition from college to my first career job, I remember complaining to a friend, five years my senior, about feeling lost in deciding what health plan to choose with my new job.

My friend, a very honest, black and white thinker, told me about a high deductible health plan tied to a health savings account. It sounded too good to be true—a plan with the lowest out of pocket expense that allowed me to save untaxed money to use for my health expenses.

The University of Alaska is exploring offering a plan just like that, in part driving employees towards a consumer-driven health care approach to better align with a new era of ever-rising medical costs and inflation. Many factors go into determining which plans are right for UA employees including a close look at projections, fiscal year activity, actual cost of health care from year to year and how much those numbers affect employee rates. FULL STORY

UA Works to Improve Student Success Through Advising

Student Success is at the very core of the University of Alaska Strategic Direction Initiative (SDI). During last year’s legislative session, the message that advising equals student success resonated with a number of state legislators, so much so, that the legislature dedicated additional funding specifically for advising to UAA, UAF, and UAS. So, how is that funding being spent right now?

SDI interviewed leaders accountable for increasing academic advising at their University. What we found were both commonalities and uniquely different approaches toward achieving the same outcome: Student Success. FULL STORY.

Industry Leaders Use Opportunity to Guide UA Workforce Development Programs

2nd UA Alaska Joint Fisheries Seafood Maritime Workforce Forum

Creating the best possible model for delivering fisheries, seafood and maritime (FSM) education is the driving force behind the Fisheries Seafood Maritime Initiative (FSMI). Alaska has some of the best managed fisheries industries in the world, famous seafood, a diverse maritime industry and is home to critical marine research. There is an opportunity for the University of Alaska to become the global leader for coldwater education in these fields. By partnering with industry leaders UA can successfully develop world-class programs for FSM workforce development.

University leadership, including rural and community campus directors, had an opportunity to listen to industry leaders during the second Alaska Joint Fisheries Seafood Maritime Workforce Forum held October 2 in Anchorage. The meeting represents an effort for continuing dialogue to help guide the university in enhancing program offerings for workforce development in these important Alaska job sectors. FULL STORY

Slips, Trips, Falls Pose Serious Risk for Employees, Smith Recalls Harrowing Tale

Cars outside of the Butrovich building during a snowy morning.
Safety is key during transitional seasons at each campus.
Donald Smith, chief human resource officer.

It took one step to get a newspaper to change Donald Smith’s life. After working in the morning on Nov. 23, 2010 Smith went to get his newspaper, still dressed in his sweats. He put on slippers and walked down his 400-feet long driveway, ready to start the day. As soon as Smith grabbed the paper, he felt his feet slip from under him and an instant later he heard the sound of his head crack against the pavement.

That was all it took. Smith woke up and blood was flowing out from his nose, ears and mouth. His experience as a wilderness EMT told him that this was bad. He couldn’t walk and had to crawl back up to his home. Smith arrived in his garage and finally pulled himself up. He looked in the mirror and noticed his hair didn’t look right—it actually looked as if he had a Mohawk. He raised the back of his hand and felt up his head and he noticed it was wet and soft. He called his wife and together they went to the hospital.

Smith doesn’t remember pain associated with the accident. At this point, he was actually feeling okay. He received an MRI, but as soon as he was wheeled out, the seizures began and so did his stay in the ICU. 

Over his time at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage, Smith, chief human resource office for the human resources department, had 20 seizures over 10 days—none of which he remembers. Smith also suffered from a diastatic skull fracture and his brain had been exposed during his fall. Had his skull not fractured, the accident could have been fatal due to brain swelling.

Eventually, Smith was released from the hospital. His fight wasn’t over though. For the next three weeks, he would only have use of half of his vocabulary. He couldn’t remember cords for his guitar. And now, two years later, he has lost a large part of his olfactory senses.

Smith, who grew up playing winter sports, now takes preventative measures to make sure slips like this don’t happen to him. Whenever he walks on slippery surfaces, he wears a helmet and extra foot traction. Concussions are cumulative. The more you have, the greater risk you are at for permanent brain damage and possibly death.

Smith had to deal with the embarrassment of the fall, but the far greater embarrassment, he says, was knowing it was completely avoidable. On the same day he fell, 39 others were admitted into Anchorage Regional from slips and falling.  

“I don’t want to ever go through something like this again. I hit really hard. I will do anything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Smith said.

Though Smith’s accident happened at home, accidents just like this happen across the nation, and with the extreme temperatures and snowfall in Alaska, UA employees should take any precaution possible to avoid injury.

In the workplace, slips, trips and falls cause 16,000 accidental deaths a year. Of all disabling injuries, 20 percent are caused by slips, trips and falls.

To avoid these injuries, there are several actions that can be taken to help with safety according to Director of Environmental Health and Safety Russ Steiger. Many preventative actions may seem like common sense, but Steiger said they could end up saving an employee from pain and injury.

To avoid slips, trips and falls avoid shortcuts. When it begins to snow, people tend to make walkways through the snow. These paths are made outside of normal sidewalks and walkways to make a shortcut. The paths become hazardous and icy. The ice, which can feel like hard metal in the winter, causes serious injuries.

“People want to come into work, do their job and go home. No one is trying to purposefully hurt themselves. Over the years, I have spoken to a number of people who made a split second decision to take a shortcut which ended up in an injury,” Steiger said.

Spikeys are issued to all of statewide staff and students living on campus at UAA and UAF.

To avoid injury, take small steps, walk slowly and flat footed and the use of spikeys are strongly encouraged. The university makes spikeys available for statewide employees. UA Anchorage and UA Fairbanks have also started issuing spikeys to students who live on campus.

Another cause for slipping is when people are carrying items and don’t have free hands to balance themselves or break a fall. People who try to over do it and avoid multiple trips to the car frequently result in tripping and falling. “Don’t take an unnecessary risk that in the end could affect your entire life, not only your job but your family and personal life as well. It could just be that one slip, that one moment, that changes your entire life,” Steiger said.

Slips, trips and falls often take place on staircases as well. To avoid injury, use handrails from start to finish. Nationwide, 15,000 people a year die from falling down stairs, Steiger said. When snow turns to ice, stairs become especially icy, and there is a risk for falling down the flight of stairs.

During transitional weather, conditions can be especially dangerous because of the snowfall and the potential for warmer temperatures to creep in and create a freezing layer of ice. People may still be in the mindset of summer and fall and not as aware of conditions.

Steiger said Facility Services at each campus are doing an incredible job of snow clearing, laying down pea gravel, clearing walkways and clearing parking lots, though at times it can seem like a never-ending battle.

To report slippery walkways or areas with unsafe conditions, call Facility Services (UAF (907) 474-7000, UAA (907) 786-6980 ) at your campus or the Environmental Health and Safety Department at your campus.

If you see someone hurt, immediately call 911 for help. Assess the scene for additional dangers and wait by the injured person until emergency help arrives. Do not assume that they are injury free. It is best to not touch the person if there is a risk of a spinal or neck injury.

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