Voice

ExxonMobil Agrees to Match Pick.Click.Give Gifts

This year marks the third year that the University of Alaska System, including all community campuses, has participated in Pick.Click.Give. In 2011, as a system, the university raised $16,100. Last year, nearly $30,000 was raised – a 60 percent increase. For the first time in 2012, ExxonMobil generously agreed to match donations raised on a 1:1 basis for the three higher education institutions in the state – UA, APU, and Ilisagvik College, up to a total of $100,000. That brought last year’s total raised for UA including the match close to $60,000. However, the three colleges combined did not raise a total of $100,000, so the full match was not realized.

ExxonMobil has agreed to again offer the match for 2013 gifts.

You can help UA achieve the full benefit of ExxonMobil’s matching contribution. Please consider making a gift of all or a portion of your PFD to the university. By making your regular, annual contribution through Pick.Click.Give., your gift will be eligible for matching and be counted in the following staff campaign.

  • When you go online to apply for your dividend, you will see the Pick.Click.Give. option. Click on that option and follow the instructions to make your donation.

  • You may give any amount, from $25 to your full dividend. Your entire donation will be matched.

  • If you've already filed, you can still add UA to your Pick.Click.Give. choices or make a larger gift by going to https://myalaska.state.ak.us/myPFDInfo/retro and updating your PFD application.

  • Your support is greatly appreciated, and it is an investment in a young person's future and the future of our state.

Click here to donate  and have your gift matched today.

Click here for more information on Pick Click Give

If your gift is $500 or more, the UA Foundation will work with you to designate it to the area of the university you would like to support. Simply choose the campus you would like to support in the Pick.Click.Give. list of charities, then call or email Amber Gichard, Fund and Gift Services Manager at 907-786-1016 or argichard@alaska.edu.

By working together with our partners, the Rasmuson Foundation and ExxonMobil, every person can help support higher education in Alaska, as each of you do all year-round, and at the same time, support Pick.Click.Give and the effort to encourage more Alaskans to give to charity.

It’s Always Phishing Season in I.T., Don’t Take the Bait!

Submitted by Karl Kowalski, Chief Information Technology Officer

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is constantly on the watch, protecting your data. The latest round of spoofs and phishing attempts reminds me of a parody based on the famous tirade of Colonel Nathan R. Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men).

“Son, we live in a cyberworld that has information systems --computers, laptops, iPads, smartphones, etc. Systems that are under attack from hackers. Those systems need to be protected by men and women with keyboards. Who’s gonna do it? You? You with an oak leaf? I have greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for my anti-virus software and you curse at my firewalls. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that my firewalls, while limiting access, probably save lives... You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about in chat rooms, you want my firewalls....You need my firewalls.

We use words like routers, admin privileges, passwords, credentials, usernames and architecture...we use these words as the backbone of a job spent protecting you from those hackers. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain why I limit the access of persons who surf the web and get promoted by the very information systems I provide and then question the way in which I provide them. I’d prefer you just said, 'Thank you,' and went on your way....”

Now, at OIT we don’t really feel that way, but this diatribe does express the constant, frustrating nature of spams, spoofs and spear-phishing attacks. OIT has seen a recent uptick in the number of phishing attempts coming in through email. Some are getting quite sophisticated. Gone are the days when former kings of the Ivory Coast offer to transfer funds or hackers with the grammar of a three-year-old attempt to con you out of providing information --those were the obvious ones.

Today’s Phishermen are cloning our web sites, disguising themselves as social security administrators and tax auditors. Their English and grammar have improved and they are getting harder and harder to detect--the obvious indicators are gone. Sometimes they even seem to be addressing you personally.

The one common thread in all of them, however, is that they are trying to get you to click on a link and enter or update account information (email, bank, retirement, etc) online. DON’T TAKE THE BAIT.

Always err on the side of caution. If you are ever unsure of an inquiry, the best thing to do is NOT click on the link and NOT reply to the email. In Google Apps, you can always report the email as spam or a phishing attempt by clicking on the down arrow and choosing report spam or report phishing. (See image)

In Google Apps, you can always report the email as spam or a phishing attempt by clicking on the down arrow and choosing report spam or report phishing as seen in this image.

Be just as cautious at home. Always go directly to your email, bank, store, etc site and login that way, not by clicking on a link in an email. Safe computing is up to all of us. DON’T TAKE THE BAIT.

Remember, the university will never ask you to provide personal account information in an email.

Click here to provide your email address for follow-up.

Overview of Alaska's Learning Network Given to UA Statewide Academic Council

Roxanne Mourant, the Department of Education and Early Development's Education Technology Coordinator, provided an overview of Alaska's Learning Network (AKLN) to the UA Statewide Academic Council on Dec. 5.  AKLN is a coalition of all 54 Alaska School Districts that provides eLearning K-12 courses developed and delivered by Alaskan teachers.  The council discussed additional dual credit opportunities between AKLN and UA and approaches to improve opportunities for high school students to meet Alaska Performance Scholarship eligibility standards.  UA Vice President Dana Thomas took part in the Dec.17 AKLN meeting to continue this collaborative work.

MAPTS Finalizes Instructor Exchange

UA's Mining and Petroleum Training Services (MAPTS) unit has just finalized an agreement for the first instructor exchange with Canada's Yukon College. A MAPTS instructor will conduct the first mine training course ever offered by Yukon College. Two courses will be offered: an 8-week general mine training course and a two-week mine simulator course. MAPTS Director, Dennis Steffy, credits Governor Parnell, former Deputy Commissioner David Stone and Commissioner Dianne Blumer for their support and initiative in helping to establish this collaborative international mine training.

Click here to update your emergency contact information via the Blackboard Connect portal. Instructions provided below:

UA Tests Alert Notification System

Prior to the official interview, there was a quiet, somber conversation taking place between risk services officials at the UA. A few hours earlier, news of a elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., devastated the nation and reverberated strongly with this group who work together every day to prepare for emergencies on our campuses and around the state.

The events that unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School reinforce the need for making preparations. Seconds save lives, and with the UA Alert Notification System, every test and alert helps gain those extra seconds that make all of the difference.  

“Emergency Management may not be able to eliminate these horrors, but we can try to mitigate the numbers of people that are involved. It is so critical to have the ability to alert populations at risk,” Emergency Preparedness Director Rick Forkel said. “We aren’t looking at the minutes it takes to respond. It is literally the seconds of a response. The consequences of the time of a response shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Last fall, the System Office of Risk Services started testing an alert notification system capable of reaching all 40,000 members of the UA system. Currently, Risk Services is working to reeducate the university community on the alert system process, which is constantly evolving, Forkel says.

The next phase of that process is to begin functional testing at the campus level, as opposed to testing the entire system at once, as well as further training within the 100-member incident management team. Testing will include training campus-specific emergency management groups to use the alert system and then perform an alert, or it may be testing other capabilities, like the use of iPads as a communication tool during crisis times.

Forkel said having the alert notification systems and testing those systems gives the emergency management team confidence in their ability to save lives. Many elements of the notification system are still being synchronized within Blackboard Connect, and people are being trained how to use the system. Risk Services is also working on incorporating the alert user profile information into day-to-day operations, which will make the system easier to use and more efficient.

Testing has been successful so far. The test alerts and weather warnings issued through the system  reached around 250,000 contacts just in the month of November. Some users reported problems like duplicate phone calls or emails. Over the fall semester 438 users reported issues. Compared to the amount of people reached, that number is minimal, said Steve Mullins program manager for OIT  Oversight Services. According to Mullins, a lot of the feedback goes back to a need for understanding the settings and adjustments for the alert system. Feedback is welcomed at: ua-alerts@alaska.edu

“There are definitely technical problems to solve with the system, but the system is doing what the bottom line needs of an emergency management system are. We consider what is the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and at this point, that means performing testing even though there may be some issues along the way,” Chief Risk Officer Nancy Spink said.

To prevent future potential issues, Spink encourages employees to review their user profile. The profile can be modified so you receive just the alerts that you want, in a manner that works best for you. The user profile allows for 10 telephone numbers and four different emails addresses to be alerted at one time. A common user profile configuration is having an alert combination of text messages and email notifications. Weather updates are not a mandatory part of the user profile and are considered an opt-in feature.

As a statewide employee, it is not necessary to receive alerts from all 16 campuses in the system. Instead, subscribe to alerts for the campus where you are primarily located. Statewide will never issue alerts and follows alert notifications sent by the campus where the statewide building is located.

The alert notification system is making the university compliant with the Cleary Act, part of which requires institutions to give timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees. The mass notification system was an important tool in the journey towards compliance, Spink said. The alert notification created a way to reach the entire university community. Prior to that, there were only methods in place to reach segments of the university population.

Spink also emphasized the importance of an individual taking on responsibility to make conditions as safe as possible, including going into Blackboard Connect and adding your most up to date information.

“It’s so important for an individual to accept responsibility and complete training and inform yourself about safety and develop a survival mindset,” Spink said.  

Update your profile

Step A - Access your profile for the first time

  • Go to the UA Alerts website: http://www.alaska.edu/uaalerts
  • Click the orange button and provide your UA username and password and click “Login.” Contact your campus help desk if you need assistance with the login process.

Step B – Check for pre-loaded contact information

  • To save data entry time check to see if any of your data was preloaded.
  • Select “Click Here” and proceed.
  • Select one of your pre-loaded campuses.
  • Select “Yes, this is mine” next to the pre-loaded data you want brought over into your UA Alerts Notification profile.
  • Click “Submit” when done.

Step C - Add or edit your contact informati on

  • Select the “Add Device” link to add a phone number, email address, or text messaging number.
  • Each time you ”Save” you will be prompted to update your subscription preferences. You can either “Do it Later” or select ”Yes, take me there.”

Step D - Subscribe to Alerts

  • Click “Subscriptions” in the left-hand navigation panel.
  • Check the box beside each Institution name with which you are associated to receive notifications for that location.
  • Click “Save”.
  • Edit your delivery preferences. Click “Save”.
  • On the menu in the upper right-hand corner, click “Sign-Out” and close the browser.

Frequently asked questions can be found at http://www.alaska.edu/uaalerts
Please contact ua-alerts@alaska.edu for additional information or assistance

The UA Alerts Notification System sends official information about emergencies that may disrupt university operations or threaten the community. The system is a NOTIFICATION mechanism and not a warning system. In the case of an emergency, the university will use every best means of trying to inform students, staff and faculty about what’s happened and what actions are appropriate.

The University communicates through email, websites, public media and social media. This multi-modal solution is called the UA Alerts Notification System.

An Overview of the Capitol Report

Bell in Juneau.

From Chris Christensen
Associate Vice President for State Relations


The First Session of the 28th Alaska State Legislature is underway in Juneau, and the 90- day session should be an interesting one. My name is Chris Christensen, and I am the Associate Vice President for State Relations. This will be the 30th session I have spent working with the legislature in Juneau, although it will only be my second year representing the university. I know the legislature and its members well, but each year brings new challenges and unexpected complications. One thing I have learned in my brief time here is that there are many passionate advocates for the university, people who are willing to devote their time and energy to advancing its interests. You made my job much easier last session, and I look forward to working with all of you again this year.

Over the course of the legislative session, you will be receiving this newsletter periodically to keep you up to date on what is happening in Juneau. When there are important hearings or opportunities to actively engage in advocacy for the university, we will also post it on the UA Statewide State Relations website: ( http://www.alaska.edu/state ).

You should be aware that there are many new faces in the legislature. Six of the twenty members of the Senate are new this session (three are first-time legislators, two served in the House last year, and one was a Senate member ten years ago). Eleven of the forty House members are also new this session, with one of them having previously served in the House some years ago. So, we will be working with many legislators who are familiar with the university and its issues, as well as with a significant number of legislators who are not. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.

Our most important task each session is advocating for the university’s operating and capital budgets. Governor Parnell submitted his FY14 budgets to the legislature on December 15. He has once again taken a ‘hold the line’ approach to the State’s budget, and for the university budget has endorsed salary increases, some fixed cost increases, and $37.5 million for deferred maintenance. We are grateful to Governor Parnell for his support on those items. Unfortunately, the Governor’s budget does not include many essential things such as the high demand program increments that the Board of Regents has proposed and that are critical to our mission; funds for completion of the UAA/UAF engineering buildings project; or the additional deferred maintenance funding needed to preserve and protect the State’s investment in our physical plant. Our job over the next three months will be to convince the legislature and the Governor that these items are an important investment in Alaska’s future, and should be funded.

The House and Senate Finance Committees have already begun their work on the operating budget. University President Pat Gamble will appear before the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, January 22 from 1:30 – 3:30 to give committee members an overview on UA and its operating budget. He will provide a similar overview to the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, January 30 from 9:00 – 11:00. We will keep you updated as budget hearings are added to the schedule.

Here are some handy reference guides for your information and use. We will also post them on the State Relations website for easy access:

A roster of legislative members with contact information – Note that all legislative email addresses have been changed this year to reflect the following address: Representative (or Senator)_FirstName_LastName@akleg.gov. This long-awaited address change is intended to make it easier to contact legislators.

Legislators by district

Committee assignments for the 28th legislature

BASIS – A great reference tool to locate specific legislation, sponsors, legislative actions, and a host of other reference materials.

SupportUA Listserve – SupportUA-L is designed to keep UA advocates informed about the university's budget and other legislative matters through the Capitol Report email newsletter or view it at www.alaska.edu/state/report/.

Thank you for supporting the University of Alaska!

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