Voice

University Outlines 2013 Healthcare Reform Changes

Article 3: Healthcare Reform and How it Affects the UA

by Rachel Voris

As a new University of Alaska employee, you receive a lot of mail. I have received about six packets from my retirement firm and haven’t opened a single one. I don’t like mail. I check the mailbox every day, but it is more out of respect for my mailman than a desire to actually read the mail.

The mail comes out of the box, into my home and may sit unopened for days. I don’t thrive on being organized and mail requires just that.  Mail requires a need to take appropriate steps and make a plan of action.

The university communicates about health care through the mail. So, to be informed, especially about health plans, one needs to closely examine their mail. If not, you may be forfeiting large amounts of money due to simple oversights. You may be missing out on using untaxed money towards health care costs. You may even be like me and not know there are changes coming in 2013 regarding the ongoing process of healthcare reform. MORE...

Mentor Project Shows Increase in Mentors Within Urban Areas

The 2012 group of mentors in the Alaska Statewide Mentor Project. Photo by Monique Musick

The Alaska Statewide Mentor Project (ASMP), which serves early career teachers in rural Alaska by providing them with an experienced mentor, has expanded to include urban school districts across the state.

The ASMP, a partnership between the University of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, has been serving early-career teachers in rural school districts with the highest needs since 2004. Those teachers will continue to be supported with funding from the state legislature.

A new $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will enable ASMP to expand its services to early-career teachers in the urban areas of Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai and Mat-Su.

Kathryn Berry Bertram, director of K-12 Outreach, explained that the project’s goals are to reduce teacher turnover and improve student achievement. The federal grant that enables urban expansion also includes additional research on the effectiveness of the program. Because Sitka qualifies as an urban area, and believes that the research will ultimately benefit all teachers in Alaska, this district has agreed to join in the research part of the project.

“Early career teachers sometimes feel overwhelmed,” Berry Bertram said. “The new grant will allow us to test the mentoring model we have been using to increase teacher performance and increase student success.”

In order to help early career teachers be successful, the mentors use a formative assessment system. The system helps mentors tailor assistance to an individual teacher’s needs. ASMP mentors undergo intensive yearlong training and serve up to 15 teachers each. The mentoring relationship includes visits, weekly contact and assistance with classroom observation. This relationship is not evaluative and is
fully confidential.

“Alaska is unique in this project,” Berry Bertram said. “The partnership between the university and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development shows our commitment to growing our own educators,” Berry Bertram said.

Payroll Moves from UAF to Statewide Office

On June 4, 2012, payroll processing was moved from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) to the UA statewide office at Butrovich.  

Previously, UAF handled payroll for statewide employees. In November, UAF requested that statewide take back the responsibilities of payroll since UAF and the Geophysical Institute combined their payroll processing operations and more employees were needed to deal with the increased responsibilities.

UAF submitted the request for transfer, but at that time statewide could not handle the processing. Discussions continued and in the spring statewide agreed to take over processing. UAF had handled payroll processing for statewide employees for over 10 years, so statewide did not have the proper infrastructure in place to handle payroll processing. Statewide needed time to figure out how the processing could be shifted, including training staff on processing and keying timesheets.  

Statewide eliminated the collection of exempt timesheets (timesheets for salary employees) for people who did not take leave or who do not work on restricted funds. Up to that point, all exempt employees had to turn in a timesheet whether or not they took leave. Eliminating these timesheets made payroll processing and the transition of responsibilities easier.

The UAF Human Resources Payroll Office trained a statewide payroll technician and they worked with statewide to transfer all of the payroll files, previously stored at UAF.   

“We’ve been doing our payroll since the beginning of June and so far it is going well. We haven’t had any issues,” said Michelle Pope, director of Payroll and Benefit Accounting Department.

The Alaska State Capital in downtown Juneau was orignally built in 1931. Photo by Monique Musick

Regents Meet in Juneau September 27-28

The University of Alaska Board of Regents will gather at the Juneau campus for a two-day meeting Sept. 27 to 28. The agenda covers a wide range of topics and will include time for public testimony on both days. Discussion will center on the approval of new degree programs, tuition and construction projects. The meeting will be at the UAS Student Recreation Center.

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee will discuss the proposed approval of Legal Studies and Retail Management programs at UAA. The board will also hear a Veterinarian Technician Program presentation, an annual Program Review update and a report on Dual Credit Policies and Practices.

The Facilities and Land Management Committee will review projects from all major academic units (MAUs) including the University of Alaska Anchorage Beatrice McDonald Hall renewal, Main Apartment Complex (MAC) Housing renewal phase 1 and the Allied Health Sciences building phase 2. Projects from the University of Alaska Fairbanks include the Toolik Field Station, Fine Arts Complex vapor barrier project, campuswide infrastructure and student housing and dining. University of Alaska Southeast project review will include the freshman housing Banfield Hall addition.

Public testimony is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday followed by university staff, faculty and student governance reports and a report from UA President Pat Gamble. The board will also discuss the FY14 operating and capital budget request and ten-year capital improvement plan.

With an early start on Friday the Audit Committee will meet at 7:30 a.m. with public testimony scheduled for 9 a.m. The full board will hear reports from human resources and UA Foundation . The board will also begin discussions on the approval of honorary degrees and meritorious service awards, tuition rates for academic year 2014.

Later that afternoon, the regents will tour the U.S. Forest Service Forestry Sciences Laboratory.

For a complete look at the board’s agenda, go to www.alaska.edu/bor.

New Software Program Prepares UA System for Recovery After Emergencies

Members of the UAF Fire Department practice emergency rescue during a full-scale exercise in July 2011.
Members of the UAF Fire Department practice emergency rescue during a full-scale exercise in July 2011. Photo by Monique Musick

A new software planning tool is being utilized to help move the University of Alaska System towards prudent preparedness procedures regarding business continuity in case of emergencies.

The new software program, Kuali Ready, will increase the university’s ability to continue “essential operations” at the department level during and after a disruptive event. This type of preparedness is known as business continuity. Once the software application is finished within all university departments, it will produce a continuity plan for the university; Kuali Ready uses an “all hazards” approach and prepares for events that may be natural, technological or man-made incidents. MORE...

SDI Insights

SDI Insights features an interview with Representative Anna Fairclough and an interview with Vice President of Academic Affairs Dana Thomas. To read the SDI Insights click here.

While SDI was working on its information gathering, the American Council on Education (ACE) was gathering information through their National Task Force on Institutional Accreditation. Read more about the ACE task force here.

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