The State of the University of Alaska – January 2009

Denali morning. Photo by Monique Musick

No freeze at UA—just a chill

The announcement of a state government hiring freeze by Gov. Sarah Palin has generated a few questions from UA employees wondering if the university is following suit.

At the Statewide MAU, new and replacement positions have been closely scrutinized for months due to the economic downturn. President Hamilton did not replace Pat Pitney, vice president for budget development and planning, or Jim Johnsen, vice president for administration, when they both left their posts to pursue other opportunities. President Hamilton also did not replace Ramona McAfee, military programs and distance education director, when she recently left for another job opportunity.

All position vacancies are required to be held open for a minimum of 60 days prior to recruitment. An executive committee is reviewing every vacancy for decisions about whether the position will be refilled at all, and if so, how it can be refilled at a reduced cost.

“Close scrutiny of new hires is always essential, but particularly in these economic times, especially here at Statewide, where about 5 percent of our budget comes from interest earnings in investment markets,” President Hamilton said. “Of course, we’re not earning money from investments right now, we’re actually losing money like everybody else. I’d characterize our situation as a hiring chill, one that has been going on for some time now. The state is implementing a program that looks much like what we are doing already.”

Per the Alaska Constitution, the UA Board of Regents sets policy, including personnel policies, for the UA System. A mix of revenue sources fund UA’s operating budget, including the state’s general fund but also tuition, federal grants, auxiliary fees from housing and parking, as well as other university generated revenue and private donations.

In addition to careful review of new hires, Statewide also is on track to reach its goal of reducing travel expenses by 10 percent this fiscal year– a difficult achievement in light of the escalating costs of travel overall.

At the individual campus level, the three chancellors or their designees make hiring decisions. In certain cases, chancellors may have delayed hiring for specific reasons, but in others they are moving forward, Hamilton said. “I believe the chancellors are carefully managing their resources to stay within their own budgets and deal with market realities to the extent they are affected,” he said. 

February FAFSA Frenzy

Once again the Statewide Student and Enrollment Services is sponsoring Financial Aid Awareness Month in February. Student Services and the Office of Public Affairs teamed up to produce the marketing materials, web site and structure for a series of events known as the February FAFSA Frenzy. All was done in close collaboration with a systemwide committee, with representatives from many campuses.

What is February FAFSA Frenzy (FFF)?
FFF is a series of financial aid workshops and activities held in February across the UA system. FFF events let students know about the aid options for which they may qualify and encourage them to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the end of February. "We try to make the Frenzy fun and eye-catching," said Mike Earnest, student services manager.

What are the primary goals of FFF?

  1. To encourage students who are likely to submit a FAFSA to do so early (by the end of February)
  2. To encourage students who otherwise unlikely to apply for aid to submit a FAFSA by the end of February. Many students will be surprised to find out what kind of financial aid package they can get.
  3. To help students attend college by maximizing their non-loan aid, minimizing their potential loan debt.

What are some of the FFF events and activities?
Financial aid staff will conduct FAFSA workshops at high schools and on UA campuses, for current or future students and their parents. Additional components of the campaign include prizes, mailings to Alaska’s high school counselors, and articles in student and local newspapers.

Information Contact:

Please visit  http://www.alaska.edu/fafsafrenzy  for further information and a full list of events.

Join a Heart Walk team to raise funds for the prevention of heart disease

Statewide employees will have an opportunity to make a real difference in the community by participation in this year’s American Heart Walk, to be held on Saturday, May 16. Walk either 1 mile or 3 miles while enjoying music and acts along the way. Lunch is provided by the hospital. Other activities include photos and face painting. It's a fun family event and for a good cause.

The American Heart Walk is the premiere fundraising event of the American Heart Association (AHA). It is designed to promote physical activity and heart-healthy living. The AHA anticipates that more than 1 million walkers will participate in more than 450 events geared at raising funds for two the top causes of death in the country – heart disease and stroke.

In the past two years, UAF/SW has made a huge showing, raising $43,688 in 2007 and $37,956 in 2008. This year, UA is joining forces for the "Go Red for Women" campaign to raise awareness of women’s heart issues. Richard Simmons will be guest speaker and will have a "Sweatin' to the Oldies" presentation from 5:30 - 6:30 on Feb 13. 

Raising money has its rewards too:

  • $250 - to receive a ticket to Sweatin' to the Oldies
  • $500 - to receive a ticket to the Go Red Luncheon Event
  • $1,000 - to receive a Go Red VIP package, which includes a ticket to the Go Red Event, Sweatin to the Oldies class and a private VIP reception with Richard Simmons

To create a team or join an existing one, please contact Marianne Freelong at mfreelong@fs.uaf.edu or ext 5990.  It is a matter of setting up the website, signing up walkers and raising money through the website.

Freelong said, "I will mention that I was never one to throw to much time or effort into this event until my youngest sister died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart defect while in Guatemala at the Mayan Ruins. She left behind three young children and it was and still is a devastating event. I would do anything to see that no other young family has to go through such a tragic event if raising money can keep it from continuing."

Go Red for Women

Additional information from their Web site:

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States? It kills nearly half a million women each year at the rate of about one per minute.

The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement seeks to provide women with the tools and resources they need to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.

The Go Red For Women Luncheon is a life-changing experience that focuses on three areas to support the fight against heart disease in women: heightening awareness of the issue, creating a passionate call-to-action and generating funds to support education and research.

Luncheon activities February 13, 2009 include:

8:30 am Morning Workshops & Activities
Health Screenings and Exhibit Hall
Silent Auction Gallery
Break Out Sessions
11:30 am luncheon with key note speaker Richard Simmons!

For more information contact:
Janet Bartels

SAA News

Meetings and Elections

Statewide Administration Assembly (SAA) elections are just around the bend! If you know someone (or yourself) that you think would make a good representative on the SAA, then nominate them! Nominations are due Friday, February 27, 2009. Go to http://gov.alaska.edu/saa/elections for more information and for forms!

SAA is next meeting February 11, 2009, 10am-12pm. As always this is an open meeting, and all who want to attend are more than welcome.

Board of Regent’s Retreat

Board of Regents' Update

Members of the Board of Regents are meeting in Anchorage today and tomorrow (Jan. 28-29) for their annual retreat. Following meetings of the Facilities and Land Management and Audit committees, board members are gathering at the Bragraw Office Building to discuss a wide range of issues.

Members of the board will meet with President Hamilton, chancellors and other staff as necessary. They'll also attend a dinner to honor Mary Hughes and Mike Snowden for their terms of service on the board.

Key points on the agenda for the 2009 retreat include a discussion of the issues facing higher education in Alaska, such as improved preparation of high school graduates, the fiscal crisis, inadequate facilities and distance education.

The next full board meeting will be in Juneau on Feb. 17-18. An agenda for that meeting will be available on the Board of Regents' website at www.alaska.edu/bor.

2009 President's Report

President Hamilton’s annual President’s Report is available online via the “publications” link off the Public Affairs website, at www.alaska.edu/opa/.

The report celebrates milestones and notable moments at the university in the last year, such as the 10th anniversary celebration of the UA Scholars Program and the 50th anniversary of Alaska Statehood. The report also highlights strategic priorities for the coming year, including applied energy research and K-12 outreach.

A limited number of printed copies will be available for use by governance groups, the Board of Regents, the UA Foundation Board of Trustees and others. About 500 are mailed directly to legislators, business owners and other interested parties.  Copies also are distributed at Hamilton’s public speeches, including the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 2 and the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Feb. 25. The Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce speech is still being scheduled; the Voice will let you know the date.

Here is the opening letter from President Hamilton, published in the report:

“This past year has been one of tremendous change and challenge.

We’ve seen oil prices skyrocket and then plunge, our financial markets spiral downward, and our friends, family and colleagues, mostly in the Lower 48, suffer the loss of a home, job or a loved one in war.

We’ve watched our governor launch into the national and world spotlight as a vice presidential nominee, and we witnessed the first African American elected president of our country. We also somberly said good-bye to our longest-running public servant, U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who lost re-election after 40 years.

This is Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood. The years since 1959 haven’t been perfect—we often faced extreme challenges in the past, and we will again in the future. The University of Alaska is on solid footing while we adapt to fiscal realities and continue to serve state needs.

Tough times can cause people to do one of two things; wring their hands in despair…or raise them up.

At the University of Alaska, we’re raising up our hands to say, yes, we can meet the challenges of the next 50 years. We’ll work on Alaska’s tough issues, including educating the next generation, providing a trained and qualified workforce for jobs in Alaska, and ensuring our young people have the best opportunities possible, from pre-school through postsecondary education.

This president’s report gives just a glimpse of the past year’s highlights and priorities for the year ahead. As always, I remain grateful for our alumni, advocates and friends. Thank you.

Now join me in raising your hand, counting yourself in, and proudly taking on the next 50 years.”

Alaska legislative session in progress

The legislative session started Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009, and will run until April 19.

To help keep employees informed about how the university is doing in Juneau this year, State Relations and Public Affairs are once again providing regular updates and information via the UA advocacy website, at http://www.alaska.edu/state/.

There, you’ll find a link to sign up for email updates via the SupportUA Listserve, or you can sign up directly by clicking on https://lists.uaf.edu:8025/mailman/listinfo/supportua-l.

The UA advocacy website also contains UA briefing sheets (with printable versions), budget request summaries, a schedule of upcoming committee hearings important to UA, links to other relevant sites like the Alaska Legislature and Governor, and more.

The governor gave her annual State of the State speech on Tuesday, Jan. 20. For the complete text of her speech, go to http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=1610

It’s encouraging the governor discussed the importance of education and workforce training and an enhanced university system. The governor introduced her proposed budget to the Legislature last month. For a comparison of the governor’s proposed budget to the level of state funding requested by the UA Board of Regents, click on: http://www.alaska.edu/swbir/budget/UA_Summary_Governor_budget.pdf.

If you have questions about the university’s advocacy efforts this year, please contact Director of State Relations, Pete Kelly, at 907-463-3086 (session number) or Kate Ripley, UA Public Affairs Director, at 907-450-8102.


UAA, UA Foundation and University of Alaska receive awards

Award winning Career Transformers. Photo by Kate Wattum.

Marketing, recruitment and fundraising campaigns developed throughout the UA System received awards in top educational and public affairs competitions this year.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) is one of the largest international associations of education institutions, serving more than 3,300 universities, colleges, schools and related organizations in 54 countries. The university recently won several communication awards in the CASE District VIII competition, which includes institutions in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Canada's Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nunavat. This yearly awards program recognizes institutional excellence in marketing and communications. The list of UA winners includes:

  • The UA Foundation, Gold prize, Fund Raising & Special Event Publications category, for the Foundation's 2007 Annual Report, produced by The Nerland Agency and overseen by UA Foundation President Mary Rutherford.
  • UAA, Grand Gold, Video & Multimedia: Student Recruitment Videos, for “Villagers in the City,” a video produced by UAA student Isaiah Woods.
  • UAA, Silver, Video & Multimedia: Fund Raising and Alumni Relations Videos, for the Integrated Science Building Naming Event DVD.

Another award was recently presented by the Alaska Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, the world's largest organization for public relations professionals. PRSA's Alaska chapter, established in 1973, annually bestows its Aurora awards to honor public relations campaigns that successfully communicate key messages using a variety of tools, programs and components.

UA's legislative campaign entitled "Career Transformers," otherwise known as the bobblehead campaign, won first place in the Public Affairs category. Overseen by UA Public Affairs Director Kate Ripley, it was created by The Nerland Agency to help increase awareness among elected leaders about UA's vast workforce training initiatives.

In addition to a series of five bobblehead dolls, the campaign included targeted advertising, java jacket advertising at select coffee shops and direct mail and email. All elements aligned closely with UA's workforce training efforts. The career transformers came with a flyer and included campus-based stickers, including all community campuses, so recipients could customize them. The dolls included a nurse, teacher, engineer, scientist and construction manager, and were paid for with private funds. A limited number were produced and sent directly to key recipients, including legsilators and business leaders. With the assistance of UAS, they also were strategically placed throughout the Capital City to attract attention and create a "buzz" about UA's workforce training.


UAA employees complete disaster response training

Eight university workers are now more able to minimize the loss of life or property following a disaster, thanks to what they learned during a 2- ½ day course completed this week. Presented by Lt. Ron Swartz and Rick Forkel of UA Emergency Management, the employees went through the Campus - Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) curriculum coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security.

The 20-hour program was offered to UPD Auxiliary Emergency Team volunteers and UAA Building & Safety Coordinators through the System Office of Risk Services. Participants learned about fire safety, medical triage and first aid, terrorism, search and rescue, disaster psychology and general disaster preparedness. C-CERT is designed to train campus employees to take important actions following an emergency, until professional responders are able to arrive. In a serious disaster like an earthquake, emergency service workers could be quickly overwhelmed and will need to prioritize their responses. Citizens trained in CERT or Emergency Watch programs can help reduce the amount of death, injury and damage while professional responders are busy elsewhere.

Employees receiving certificates on January 7 were Sharon Chamard, Robin Hanson, Ryan Leary, Joanna Paxton, Judi Spry, Marcia Trudgen, Roxi Valentine and Crickett Watt. Guest instructors included Mike Halko, Vince McCoy, and Suzanne Strisik.   

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