Voice

New Wellness Vendor Up and Running

The university has awarded its wellness contract to Healthyroads following a lengthy appeal of the procurement process by the former vendor, WIN for Alaska, that ultimately went in UA’s favor. Services and tools provided by Healthyroads are now available to employees and their spouses/partners enrolled in the plan. 

Healthyroads offers a variety of services of benefit to UA employees including personal health assessments and planning tools, web resources, personal coaching, challenges and competitions, biometric screening, integration with your Fitbit, resource libraries and more. All services are privacy protected under federal law. UA will never see your individual health data, questions, goals or studies.

When you set up your account on the website, be sure to provide your name and birthday exactly as it is recorded with Human Resources office to be recognized as an eligible UA employee or spouse/partner enrolled in the health plan.

The Statewide Benefits Office is working on a demonstration video to assist employees with getting started and navigating the new interface.

The Healthyroads.com website features tons of tools, including a Personal Health Assessment (PHA), cardio and strength exercise planners with animated demos, a meal/nutrition planner (including shopping guides), more than 40 fitness and wellness trackers, a library of health articles, videos, blogs, mp3s, and much more.

Coaching by Healthyroads provides one-on-one telephone conversations to address weight management, nutrition, stress management, tobacco cessation and other personal healthy living goals. This telephone-based support is available to all employees, spouses and financially interdependent partners on the UA Choice plan. Due to budget restrictions, UA eliminated the onsite coaching option. At a cost of more than $150,000 annually per coach, it simply was not an affordable option at this time.

Biometric Screenings: Attend an onsite screening, visit your health care provider or get a screening at a local contracted facility to gather vital health statistics, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Lipid panel (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides)
  • BMI and/or waist circumference
  • Glucose/blood sugar

Your results will automatically populate your Personal Health Assessment so that you can generate a plan customized to you and your health needs.

Challenges: Healthyroads Challenges offer a fun and creative way to get healthy with your coworkers and teammates. Topics for the challenges range from physical activity to stress management to nutrition, and they often tie in with the time of year—making them relevant and inspiring to you and your life.

Incentives: Participate in health activities, such as a completing a Personal Health Assessment (PHA) and a getting a biometric screening and get rewarded. Incentives will be announced.

Healthyroads Connected!: Healthyroads Connected!  automatically tracks your workouts through your Fitbit tracker. Automatically upload this data to Healthyroads.com and use the information to change your workout routine or to set your next health improvement goal.

Go to Healthyroads.com to register and enroll in the programs right for you. For more information, call Healthyroads customer service at 877.330.2746between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Alaska time.  

When you log in to Healthyroads for the first time you will be prompted to start with a personal health assessment. You can also access nutrition or exercise planners, libraries and all the other resources and coaching opportunities on the site.

The Capitol Report: January 22

By Chris Christensen, associate vice president for state relations

The Second Session of the 28th Alaska State Legislature is under way in Juneau, and the 90- day session will be a difficult one. This will be the 31st session I’ve spent working with the legislature, and my third 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 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 first two sessions with UA much easier, and I look forward to working with all of you again this year.

Over the course of the legislative session, you will receive this newsletter periodically to keep you up to date on what is happening in the Capitol. When there are important hearings or opportunities to actively engage in advocacy for the university, we’ll also post it on the UA State Relations webpage: www.alaska.edu/state

Our most important task each session is advocating for the university’s operating and capital budgets. That job has been made more difficult this year by the dramatic reduction in oil revenues received by the state. Between FY13 and FY15, the state’s unrestricted general fund revenues are projected to decline from $6.9 billion to $4.5 billion, a 35 percent reduction. This decline means that during the current fiscal year, FY14, the state will run an estimated $2 billion deficit. When the legislature puts together the FY15 budget this session, it will attempt to lower next year’s expected deficit by reducing state spending.

Gov. Parnell took the first step to implement a reduction in state spending when he announced his FY15 budget on December 12. That budget proposes that the state spend 18.4 percent less in general fund dollars than it is spending during the current year. For the university operating budget, the governor proposes a $14.9 million reduction from the current year’s funding level, but he also proposes adding $5.3 million to partially cover new expenses, such as the scheduled employee pay raises and operating costs for new buildings that are due to open this year. UA’s net cut in the governor’s operating budget is $9.6 million below the FY14 level. ( www.alaska.edu/files/state/FY15-Budget-Data-Summary-Final.pdf )

In his capital budget, Gov. Parnell proposes that UA receive $37.5 million for deferred maintenance, and $10 million in unrestricted general funds for continuing construction of the UAA and UAF engineering buildings. We are grateful to the governor for his support of those items. Unfortunately, there is no funding in his budget for the upgrade of the UAF combined heat and power plant ($195 million), for the balance needed to actually complete the engineering buildings ($68.9 million, in addition to the proposed $10 million), or for any of the research projects that benefit Alaska.

The House and Senate Finance Committees are already starting to work on the operating budget. University President Pat Gamble has been asked to appear before the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 4 between 1:30 –3:30 p.m. to give committee members an overview on UA and its operating budget. 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 webpage for easy access:

A roster of legislative members with contact information:
w3.legis.state.ak.us/docs/pdf/whoswho.pdf

Legislators by district:
w3.legis.state.ak.us/docs/pdf/DISTRICTS.pdf

Committee assignments for the 28th legislature:
www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/commbr_info.asp?session=28#hse_std_com 

BASIS – A great reference tool to locate specific legislation, bill sponsors, legislative actions and a host of other reference materials:  www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/start.asp

Thank you for supporting the University of Alaska!

For more information, contact Associate Vice President Chris Christensen at cschristenseniii@alaska.edu or visit www.alaska. edu/state

Next Steps For Shaping Alaska’s Future

Shaping Alaska’s Future continues to grow momentum throughout the campuses of the three universities and UA statewide.

The three Chancellor’s Cabinets and UA leadership worked through the winter holiday break in order to submit a new revised draft of issue and effect statements to governance and other university groups, as well as the Board of Regents earlier this month.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dana Thomas stresses the importance of sharing the revised draft.

“Shaping Alaska’s Future is about continuous improvement. That’s why we’re asking for additional feedback specific to the issue statements raised during the 80 listening sessions conducted statewide, and the effect statements designed to address those issues," said Thomas.

Thomas pointed out that several campus-driven projects already are moving forward, with a number of ongoing collaborations among the universities.

The five Shaping Alaska’s Future themes are:

  • Student Achievement and Attainment
  • Productive Partnerships with Alaska’s Schools
  • Productive Partnerships with Public Entities and Private Industries
  • Research and Development to Sustain Alaska’s Communities and Economic Growth
  • Accountability to the People of Alaska

The deadline for feedback on the revised draft issue and effect statements is Feb. 17.

Click on cover to download the FY15 budget summary.

UA Operating Budget

FY15 Request
State General Fund         $388.4 million
University Receipts         $547.8 million
Total UA Budget              $936.2 million

Overview
With discussions centered on sustainable spending, UA’s Board of Regents approved a modest (.9 percent) increase in high-demand program requests in the FY15 operating budget. UA is working diligently to keep fixed costs such as labor and health care as low as possible, improving service to students while maintaining excellent quality in the classroom. The overall increase in state operating funds requested is only 3 percent compared to last year.

The ongoing initiatives in the high-demand program request are making a difference. UA is on the right path. Support is needed to continue: 

  • Mandatory comprehensive student advising
  • High school graduate readiness for college/workforce
  • Teacher education upgrades
  • Health/biomedical education
  • Workforce professional development for Alaska’s major industries

UA’s FY15 budget request targets specific high-demand job areas and student success only after the difficult work of prioritizing, reallocating and other cost reductions, such as reduced travel and hiring delays, were put into place.
 

UA Capital Budget

Deferred Maintenance, UAA and UAF Engineering, UAF Heat and Power Plant

FY15 Request
Deferred Maintenance/Renewal & Repurposing         $37.5 million
UA Engineering Building Completion                        $78.9 million
UAF Heat & Power plant                                         $195 million 
Research for Alaska                                               $7.9 million
Total state General Fund                                       $319.3 million

Overview
A well-managed capital program that emphasizes maintenance of existing facilities, finishes projects already started and addresses the most critical needs throughout the UA system are fundamental principles driving UA’s FY15 capital request.

Deferred Maintenance

Gov. Sean Parnell committed to a five-year program of $100 million in deferred maintenance funds for state-owned facilities annually.  UA has received $37.5 million each year under this program. The Board of Regents strongly supports Parnell’s efforts. UA has been a wise steward of money received, rapidly getting the funds under contract for work needed to extend the life of UA buildings.

UAA and UAF Engineering buildings completion

The Legislature and governor have supported this project for each of the last three budget cycles. With only $78.9 million left to finish these projects, we must finish what we’ve started so that Alaska has more engineering graduates able to enter the workforce.

UAF Combined Heat and Power Plant
The university has done a good job maintaining this facility, which provides not only electricity but steam heat throughout UAF’s campus in Fairbanks. The plant is nearing the end of its 50-year life cycle. A major upgrade is the only responsible course of action.

Research for Alaska

UA’s quality research would benefit from state investment. Consider:

  • Adapting the EarthScope Seismic Array, a massive NSF undertaking, so that it can benefit Alaskans for earthquake monitoring and assessment for many years beyond the NSF’s two-year program;
  • Creating the Arctic Oil Spill Response Center, a modest investment that supports the burgeoning off-shore oil development interests;
  • Expanding Digital Mapping of Alaska’s resources, including rare Earth minerals. Part of the funding would advance new technologies such as hyperspectral imaging, dramatically enhancing the ability to locate new mineral deposits and improve identification of vegetation. 
     
Several types of UAVs being used by UA researchers were on display during a Board of Regents' meeting in Fairbanks.

UAF to Head One of Six FAA Unmanned Aircraft System Test Sites

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will serve as one of six official Federal Aviation Administration unmanned aircraft system test sites, the federal agency announced Dec. 30, 2013.

The Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex will be managed by UAF and includes key partners in Oregon and Hawaii. The complex, with its geographic diversity in landscapes spanning seven climatic zones, will allow UAS manufacturers and potential users the ability to test their equipment in the Arctic, the tropics and arid environments. The test site will build on the ongoing work of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, which is part of the UAF Geophysical Institute.

The six FAA Unmanned Aircraft System Test Sites are congressionally mandated and will conduct research into certification and operational requirements necessary to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace over the next several years.  MORE...

UA Board of Regents December meeting wrapup

The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved two new programs that strengthen science teaching and outreach, wrapping up a two-day meeting Dec. 13 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

The 11-member board approved a new graduate certificate in Science Teaching and Outreach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, to be offered beginning with the spring 2014 semester using existing courses and faculty. The certificate answers a demand for enhanced teaching and outreach skills by
science graduate students.

The board also approved a Master of Education in Science Education K-8 at the University of Alaska Southeast. No such program currently exists in Alaska for current certified teachers. The mostly online program is designed to strengthen teachers’ understanding of science, with a special emphasis on scientific inquiry and content in the K-8 curriculum.

“The UAS Master’s program in Science Education will provide K-8 teachers in Alaska with an effective model and solid skills for teaching science,” said UAS Education Dean Deborah Lo. “The program meets a high demand across the state for Alaska teachers who are committed to helping students fulfill their potential in science and math.”

The program will be made available using existing faculty, at minimal increased cost, and could draw upon faculty members at University of Alaska Anchorage and UAF as well.

In addition, the board gave formal project approval for a renovation of UAA’s Wells Fargo Sports Complex; renewal of the Technical Education Center at UAS; and a major upgrade to the UAF Heat and Power Plant.

Board members attended UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers’ 2013 Celebration of Giving event at the UA Museum of the North and toured the UAF Heat and Power Plant as part of the December meeting. The board elected the following to officer positions: Pat Jacobson of Kodiak, chair; Jo Heckman of Fairbanks, vice chair; Ken Fisher of Juneau, secretary; and Mike Powers of Fairbanks, treasurer.

The next board meeting is set for Feb. 20-21, 2014 in Fairbanks.

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