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Walker names four to University of Alaska Board of Regents

Gov. Bill Walker has named four appointees to the University of Alaska Board of Regents pending confirmation by the Alaska Legislature.

Walker appointed longtime Fairbankskan John Davies, Kodiak resident Andy Teuber, Anchorage resident Sheri Buretta and Soldotna resident Lisa Parker to the 11-member board that oversees the statewide university system.

“These appointments represent a broad spectrum of Alaskans and Alaska,” Walker said in a written statement. “All four will bring unique qualities to the Board of Regents that will help guide the future of our great university system.”  Read more in the Governor's Press Release HERE.

“The governor has appointed four new regents with a depth of experience and knowledge. We are pleased to welcome them to the board and look forward to working with them to ensure a strong and resilient university system that continues to meet the needs of Alaska and Alaskans,” said Board of Regents Chair Jo Heckman.

UA Choice Health Plan Changes for FY16

The Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC) has been studying the UA Choice plan to learn what’s working, what needs to be changed or updated, and what new programs can be added to better serve our members. In December, the committee discussed several initiatives and options and made recommendations to CHRO Erik Seastedt, which were accepted.

The changes below will be implemented July 1, 2015. 

  • Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP) deductibles
  • Brand-name PPI drugs no longer covered
  • Pharmacy Copays on 750 Plan and High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)
  • Preventive Medications at Zero Copay
  • Virtual Care Telemedicine
  • Payment Change for Out-of-Network Providers
  • Out-of-Network Dialysis Treatment

Read HERE for more information and descriptions of the changes.

Looking for more? Premera provides a digital newsletter with interesting and relevant content. Please find the Winter edition here.

The UA Summit Team Continues Its Work To Help Shape Alaska’s Future

The UA Summit Team, comprising the three chancellors, the three provosts from UAA, UAF and UAS, and President Gamble, is charged to take up issues that cut across university boundaries. Since its inception in 2014, the Summit Team has been very active, recommending a number of changes to the UA Board of Regents.

Please review actions requiring BOR approval that the Summit Team has proposed, actions that affect “how we do what we do” statewide, and Summit Team initiated investigations that that are being tasked to governance groups and teams of leaders from all three universities and statewide.  SUMMIT TEAM ACTIONS

The Capitol Report: January 21 & 23

By Chris Christensen, associate vice president for state relations

January 21, 2015

The First Session of the 29th Alaska State Legislature is underway in Juneau. My name is Chris Christensen, and I am the Associate Vice President for State Relations. This will be the 32nd session I have spent working with the legislature in Juneau, and the fourth year I have represented the university. I know the legislature and its members well, but each year brings new challenges and this one will be no exception. 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 three 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 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 State Relations webpage: www.alaska.edu/state

The steep decline in oil revenues this year, coupled with the long-term reduction in oil production, has created a budget situation that will probably result in unprecedented cuts to the state budget over the next few years. When the legislature left Juneau last April, it anticipated that the budget for the current year, FY15, would result in a $1.4 billion deficit. In fact, the deficit is approaching $4 billion and collapsing oil prices keep pushing it higher. Think of the $4 billion deficit this way: the state’s FY15 general fund budget is approximately $6 billion. Two-thirds of the revenues needed to fund that level of spending are simply not there.  MORE....

January 23, 2015

Last night, Governor Bill Walker gave his first State of the Budget speech to the Alaska Legislature. Governor Walker said that he was submitting new FY16 operating and capital budgets to the legislature, to replace those that were prepared by the last administration when oil prices were higher. He stated that the new operating budget would cut state spending by about 5 percent, with all agencies receiving general fund budget reductions. Cuts are even proposed for popular programs like K-12 funding and municipal revenue sharing. Walker also said that unless oil prices rebound quickly, the state will need to start discussing new taxes next year, because the savings accounts that cover deficits will be empty in three years.

In the governor’s proposed operating budget, UA receives a smaller cut than most executive departments. The average non-formula agency cut from the current fiscal year (FY15) is 6.5 percent; UA’s proposed cut from FY15 is 2.4 percent. This number does not include some increased costs that UA will be expected to cover (such as pay raises, new building operating costs, and utilities increases), which will make the effective budget reduction much higher than 2.4 percent.

In the governor’s proposed capital budget, UA has two items: $8 million in unrestricted general funds to continue construction of the UAF engineering building project, and $8 million in unrestricted general funds for deferred maintenance. There was nothing for UA in the previous version of the capital budget, so this is good news.

These new budgets will now be considered by the legislature. It is expected to make additional cuts to the budgets before they are voted on in April.

For more information, contact Associate Vice President Chris Christensen at cschristenseniii@alaska.edu

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University to officially designate staff and faculty as responsible employees

In February 2015, University of Alaska employees will receive letters designating them as responsible employees under Title IX, a federal law aimed at removing sexual inequity from the college environment, including addressing “sexual misconduct” such as sexual harassment and sexual violence.

As of May 2014, Title IX creates a duty for the University’s “responsible employees” to report sexual misconduct they become aware of to their campus Title IX coordinator or contact. Until now, the university has not formally designated “responsible employees.” At the University of Alaska “responsible employees” include all staff, all faculty, and Residence Life student employees, with the limited exception of counselors, clergy or other persons with a professional license requiring confidentiality who are working within that license.   MORE....

University of Alaska Commences Presidential Search

The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved a presidential search plan at its January 22 and 23 meeting in Anchorage. Academic Search, Inc. has been contracted to facilitate a focused search effort with the goal of approving a new president in May.  

President Patrick K. Gamble informed the board in December that he would retire June 1, 2015. During his tenure, the university developed Shaping Alaska's Future to address issues identified through an extensive outreach effort. The initiative outlines 23 effects or outcomes the institution is working on to ensure UA is serving the learning, research, economic, social and cultural needs of Alaska and Alaskans. UA is already seeing performance improvements in such areas as improved graduation rates and more degrees and certificates in high demand areas  such as engineering, health disciplines and teacher education 

Regent Mary K. Hughes will lead the search process and chair an ex-officio presidential search advisory committee composed of board members; student, faculty and staff representatives; UA Foundation leaders; and members of the public. The role of the committee will be to review candidates and recommend a short list of candidates to the Board of Regents whose authority it is to hire the university president. Once finalized, a list of committee members will be posted on the presidential search website ( http://www.alaska.edu/bor/presidential-search/).

The Presidential Search website has a comprehensive presidential profile and information on how to apply for the position. According to Jo Heckman, chair of the University Board of Regents, "We have been fortunate to have Pat Gamble as our president during the past five years. He leaves the university in a strong position as it faces significant changes in the higher education landscape and challenging fiscal times for Alaska. We are looking for a strong leader to keep us moving forward."

University of Alaska President sets retirement date

University of Alaska President Patrick K. Gamble informed the Board of Regents on Friday that he plans to retire June 1, 2015. Gamble was appointed president, following a national search, on June 1, 2010.

Under Gamble's leadership, the university developed Shaping Alaska's Future, an initiative to address 23 issues identified through an extensive outreach effort, and the effects or outcomes the institution is working to achieve to ensure UA is serving the learning, research, economic, social and cultural needs of Alaska and Alaskans. UA is already seeing positive results in a number of key areas including improved graduation rates, more degrees and certificates being awarded, and increases in numbers of degrees in high demand areas like engineering, health disciplines and teacher education.

Gamble noted, "We are up and running in moving the University of Alaska forward on a path that builds on excellence and enhances its sustainability. We have a solid team of strong leaders...the chancellors, provosts, and other system executives, as well as highly-engaged faculty and staff...who are working together and coming up with innovative ways to advance the university."

According to Board of Regents Chair Jo Heckman, "President Gamble has been the right leader to guide the University through a period of rapid change in the higher education landscape. While it is hard to see him leave, the work he's done makes the University of Alaska highly attractive to potential candidates for the position." 

The Board of Regents will discuss the process for filling the president's position at a scheduled board retreat in January. Heckman went on to say, "President Gamble's commitment to the university and its students is a deep and genuine one. It capstones a lifetime of serving our country and our state. He deserves the time that retirement will allow to enjoy family and explore personal interests."

UA Board of Regents addresses teacher prep, rural education and adopts new policies at its December meeting

Rural education, teacher prep and teacher retention were topics of significant discussion during the University of Alaska Board of Regents meeting in Anchorage, Dec. 11-12. Regents heard from the deans of education from UAA, UAF and UAS on a collaborative plan to revitalize teacher education in Alaska. This ambitious plan will help to meet some of Alaska’s most pressing needs, while continuing to improve the quality of teacher education in Alaska. The plan can be found at http://www.boarddocs.com/ak/alaska/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9QVCW483A05F.

Also on the topic of education in Alaska, the Board heard an update on Shaping Alaska’s Future Theme II: Productive Partnerships with Alaska’s Schools. Board members reported on their “homework assignments” to each talk with two superintendents at schools across Alaska. The progress report of Productive Partnerships can be found at http://www.boarddocs.com/ak/alaska/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9R8NFD5FB531.

The UA Board of Regents adopted two new policies, an employee furlough policy and a systemwide smoke-free, tobacco-free policy, during its two-day meeting in Anchorage. The smoke-free, tobacco-free policy is a revision to existing policy that will require all UA campuses and its statewide offices to be smoke-free, tobacco-free by Dec. 1, 2015. With this change in policy, UA joins more than 1,000 other universities that have developed similar smoke-free, tobacco-free policies.

Lt. Governor Byron Mallott presented an overview of the new administration and their vision for working with the University to address several challenges facing Alaska in the future. Governor Walker will name four new regents to the Board.

In addition to approving several resolutions of appreciation for departing staff and outgoing regents, the Board elected a new slate of officers, including new Chair Jo Heckman, Vice Chair Mike Powers, Secretary Kenneth Fisher and Treasurer Gloria O’Neill.

Regular university business included updates on state and federal relations, audit reports and construction reports. The regents approved the purchase of the Delta Mine Training Center. This productive partnership will help in meeting the demand for trained mining professionals in Alaska.

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