Voice
Arctic Science Summit Week activities brought more than 1,000 people representing 30 nations to Fairbanks, Alaska, March 9-18, 2016, for several meetings of international Arctic scientists, stakeholders, students and policy makers. UAF Photo by Todd Paris

System News March 2016

  • Board of Regents to Meet in Anchorage April 7-8
  • Consumer choices affect health plan costs and costs to members
  • Message From President Johnsen - budget and planning updates
  • UA Regents Adopt Resolution Opposing Current Form of SB 174 Allowing Concealed Weapons on Campus
  • Announcing UA Careers and myUA systems launch
  • UAF chancellor finalists, campus visits
  • Open Enrollment April 15 – May 16
  • Capitol Report Mar. 18, 2016

Board of Regents to Meet in Anchorage April 7-8

The UA Board of Regents will hold their next meeting in Anchorage April 7-8 in the Lee Gorsuch Commons on the UAA campus. Public testimony will be held at 9:40 a.m. on Thursday April 7, and 8:30 a.m. April 8.

The two-day meeting will begin with President Johnsen's presentation of the annual Staff Make Students Count award. The award, established in the spring of 1999, recognizes university staff who have provided outstanding service to UA students. One outstanding staff member is selected from each MAU based on peer nominations.

Business items up for discussion include an update on the Alaska Legislature, discussion of the contingency budget process including Regent priorities, Strategic Pathways updates and a report on research and development activities.

A full agenda including committee and consent agenda items, policy actions, and scheduled reports is posted to the Board of Regents site along with a link to access the live web stream: www.alaska.edu/bor/agendas/2016/apr-7-8/.

Consumer choices affect health plan costs and costs to members

Health care costs in Alaska are among the highest in the nation, but as members of a self-insured organization, we can help control some of the expense. Costs incurred by plan members have a direct impact on the cost of the plan for everyone. With the help of Patient Care, our consumer health advocacy provider, you can find the best option locally, or work through Premera for medical travel support to find a better option outside Alaska, or in another part of the state, including the cost of travel and lodging for you and a caretaker.

Here’s how you can help keep costs down while improving your health at the same time.  READ....

Message From President Johnsen - budget and planning updates

March 23, 2016

Dear Colleagues:

I trust you all enjoyed some much deserved rest and recovery over spring break and are ready for the sprint to the end of the semester and the beginning of a new life for thousands of our students. Thank you for all you do for our great university!

It’s a good thing that most of us are focused on the important work of making sure our students are doing well in their classes and are safe on our campuses, our research and creative activities are creating new knowledge and inspiring innovation, our buildings and IT systems are maintained and secure, our bills are paid, and everything else we do on behalf of our community and state is on track.

At the same time, many of us are working hard on the university’s budget and planning for the unfortunate likelihood that our state funding will be reduced for the third year in a row. This work involves several streams of activity:

  1. Budget advocacy and contingency planning on the campuses and at Statewide;
  2. Statewide Transformation, a project that seeks to more cost effectively align Statewide’s administrative work with that of the campuses; and,
  3. Strategic Pathways, the framework we are using to strengthen how we meet Alaska’s many needs for higher education during these tough fiscal times.

I would like to take a few minutes to update you on all three of these important bodies of work so that you are well informed and share my confidence that our university will become stronger than ever. I close this letter with a request for your help.  READ

UA Regents Adopt Resolution Opposing Current Form of SB 174 Allowing Concealed Weapons on Campus

By a vote of 9-2, the university’s Board of Regents acted March 25 to oppose the current form of legislation that would allow concealed handguns and knives on campus. The resolution regarding SB 174 states that without amendments, the legislation would prevent the university from responding to common, known, high risk and high conflict situations involving concealed firearms and knives on university property.

“This bill as written limits the board’s ability to govern the university in a way that is best for our students, faculty, staff and educational mandate,” said President Jim Johnsen.

The university has offered six amendments to the bill that would allow for the Board of Regents and the administration to respond in critical and sensitive situations. These amendments include allowing regulation of weapons in the following areas:

  • when a student or employee demonstrates a risk of harm to self or others;
  • in student dormitories and other shared living quarters, where, unlike private residences, some 60 percent of occupants are under 21, communal living rules are enforced by student Resident Advisors and UA serves as the “adult,” residents live in close quarters and share facilities such as bathrooms and lounges, students and transient visitors have greater access to rooms, and alcohol is frequently present;
  • in university facilities housing health and counseling services or other services related to sexual harassment or violence;
  • during adjudication of staff or student disputes or disciplinary issues;
  • within parts of facilities used for dedicated programs for preschool, elementary, junior high and secondary students, when such programs are occurring;
  • with concealed carry permits, since a student or employee carrying concealed in UA common areas, critical infrastructure, classrooms and labs should have some training and knowledge of gun safety and applicable law and be subject to a criminal background check; and,

The resolution requests that legislators and the governor oppose the bill in its current form, and urges Alaskans to oppose SB 174 without the requested amendments.

“There is a time and a place to carry weapons,” said Regent Gloria O’Neill, “and it’s not on our campuses.”

The Regents postponed amending the university weapons policy, choosing to defer action. Chair Jo Heckman noted that as the session progresses there will more clarity on the final language in the bill. Postponing policy action also gives the community opportunity to comment.

The resolution and amendments can be found at www.alaska.edu/state/advocacy .

Announcing UA Careers and myUA systems launch

Statewide Human Resources is pleased to announce the launch of our new employee services portal myUA. This new recruitment and position management system is a great tool to support supervisors and employees across the University of Alaska system.

A cross-campus work team has spent the last few months collaborating on implementing cohesive business processes that can meet the needs of our diverse stakeholders across the UA system.  The selection of this system was based on many factors, including:

  • Ease of access with single sign-on
  • Streamlined, intuitive interface
  • Low-bandwidth design to support our remote campuses
  • Integration to feed data into and out of Banner
  • Robust reporting engine to provide up-to-date position and personnel reporting system wide

As well as managing recruitment, the recruitment module houses employee position descriptions and provides position reporting across the system. The recruitment module went live on March 28, 2016. 

Statewide HR has spent the last two weeks training supervisors on the recruitment module via in-person trainings and workshops here in Butrovich, as well as a webinar for our Anchorage departmental users. 

For quick links to access the system, as well as training resources, go to myua.alaska.edu
The new applicant portal also went live on Monday, March 28. UA Careers, alaska.edu/jobs, is our new site to apply for jobs across the University of Alaska system.  We are phasing out our current applicant portal, uakjobs.com, which will retire as of April 30, 2016

In addition, we will be launching Performance Management and Learning modules at the beginning of FY17.  Statewide HR will be training employees on these modules starting June of 2016.

If you have any questions, or need any assistance, please contact us at 907-450-8229.

UAF chancellor finalists, campus visits

Four finalists in the search for a new chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks visited campus in late March.

The hiring committee selected the finalists from a pool of 41 applicants after a national search. During their Fairbanks visits, the finalists each met with UA President Jim Johnsen, UAF Interim Chancellor Mike Powers, cabinet members, academic deans, research directors and community campus directors. Each finalist also held forums for faculty, staff, students and the community.

Following are the four finalists and the dates of their visits: READ

Open Enrollment April 15 – May 16

Open enrollment is your annual opportunity to change your benefit elections for the upcoming plan year. You have from April 15 until May 16 to

  • change your health plan option,
  • add or remove dependents,
  • sign up for a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for health care or dependent daycare expenses,
  • start or increase supplemental life insurance or accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D)
  • sign up for new or continuing payroll deduction for the Health Savings Account (HSA)

If you aren’t making any changes and don’t want the FSA or HSA, you don’t need to turn in a form. But if you have dependents in the plan and you have not provided their Social Security numbers previously, please turn in a dependent enrollment form to provide that information now. The Social Security numbers for dependents are required for our annual health care reform reporting. Just check the box “currently enrolled” on the form so we know you’re not making changes.

If you’ve previously opted out of the UA Choice health plan, you don’t need to do that again. Just remember that you are required to enroll in a UA Choice health plan within 30 days if you happen to lose your other coverage for whatever reason.

This is also a good time to review your beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement programs. 

What’s Changing?

The plan changes this year apply to the Consumer-Directed Health Plan (CDHP) and the Health Savings Accounts (HSA).  

READ full article.

Capitol Report Mar. 18, 2016

by Associate Vice President for State Relations Chris Christensen

Today is the 60th day of the legislative session. We are now two-thirds of the way through the process, with adjournment scheduled on April 17.

Operating Budget
As reported last report, the House has passed a university operating budget of $300 million in state funds for FY17. This is $50.8 million less than the budget UA received in FY16, and signifies a 14.5 percent reduction in state support.

On Monday, the Senate passed its version of the operating budget. The Senate’s budget for the university is $324.9 million in state funds, or $25.9 million less than the budget UA received in FY16. This is a 7.4 percent reduction in state support. Senator Berta Gardner offered a floor amendment to add $10 million back to UA’s budget, to provide a budget equal to the governor’s proposal. It failed on a vote of 4-16.

Once the House and Senate have passed their respective versions of the budget, generally a conference committee is quickly appointed to work out a compromise between the two budgets. Yesterday, however, it was announced that the conference committee will not be appointed right away, so that the legislature can focus instead on revenue-generating proposals.

When finally appointed, the conference committee will have three members from the House and three members from the Senate; it always includes the two Finance Committee co-chairs from each body. The final budget could be the House number, the Senate number, or something in between. It is difficult to predict what the actual final reduction might be this session, because the Senate budget also contains a $100 million cut that has not been allocated to a specific agency; if adopted by the conference committee, the governor would have to decide how much of this additional cut would be assigned to each agency. That decision wouldn’t be made until weeks or months after the end of session.

SB 174 – Regulation of Firearms and Knives by the Board of Regents

The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a Thursday, March 24 hearing on SB 174, "An Act relating to the regulation of firearms and knives by the University of Alaska." The hearing will be from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m., and will be teleconferenced to local Legislative Information Offices. The block of time from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. has been set aside for public testimony. People who testify will be limited to three minutes.

The university has information on its position here:http://www.alaska.edu/state/advocacy/
The legislature has more information on the bill here: http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Detail/29?Root=SB%20174

Thank you for all your work to promote and support the University of Alaska!

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

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