System News

Tobacco ban on new hires to be explored

The System Human Resources Department is exploring options to reduce health-care costs, including a possible ban on hiring tobacco users at UA in the future.

The idea is still in the early stages and will be vetted thoroughly with all governance groups, including faculty, staff and students, said UA President Pat Gamble. The policy, if it's ultimately adopted, would not affect current employees who use tobacco. Other employers in Alaska have adopted similar policies, including Providence Medical Center and Alaska Airlines, though UA's envisioned policy would not include testing for tobacco.

The tobacco-user hiring ban is under consideration after a tobacco-users surcharge, in which employees or dependents on the health-care plan who use tobacco would be charged a $600 additional fee, proved to be very unpopular. There were also concerns about how difficult it would be to enforce and that it set the stage for an adversarial relationship with employees.

Icicle Seafoods donations surpass $1 million

Gift extends throughout the University of Alaska

The University of Alaska Foundation announced a $300,000 gift from Icicle Seafoods Inc. for scholarships, student aid, research and technology programs throughout the UA System. The many programs benefitting from the gift include rural campuses and the communities they serve, as well as opportunities for both secondary and post-secondary students.

This is the latest in a string of generous gifts to the university that brings Icicle’s total donations to UA over the past five years to a remarkable $1.1 million.  MORE...

Campus directors meet in Fairbanks

Community campus directors listen to a presentation by Bruce Schultz of UAA on MAP-Works, a student intervention database. Photo by Kate Ripley

UA’s community campus directors share passion for students, communities

If information is power, then powerful things happen when all of the UA System’s community campus directors get together, as they did Feb. 13-14, 2012, on the UAF campus.  

The Community Campus Directors Council gathers in person twice each year – once in the fall and once in the spring – at their own expense. The goal? Share information, support each other and, ultimately, better support student learning and achievement at UA’s community campuses and rural centers across the state.

"We started these meetings eight years ago because it was felt that the community campus directors had more in common as a group than they did with the respective MAU deans,” said Kenai Peninsula College Director Gary Turner.  “While it’s important to meet with our deans on a regular basis, sharing ideas, issues and best practices across the statewide community campus system are just as important.” MORE...

Transition under way for System Governance Office

The System Governance Office is working closely with Vice President Daniel Julius on a transition plan following the retirement of longtime Executive Officer Pat Ivey.

The goals during this period are to assure the community that governance remains a vital process within the UA System; that governance access to President Gamble remains the same; and that the level of service (assistance with travel, meeting arrangements and facilitation) provided to governance groups remains consistent.

Vice President Julius is working closely with system governance staff to evaluate job responsibilities, consider constituent group and campus expectations of the office, and also to communicate with and gather the opinions of governance leaders about the transition. It’s premature to say what exactly will happen at this stage. The university is committed to keeping governance effective as we move forward. Governance goes to the heart of shared decision making, said VP Julius.

Strategic Direction Team seeks input from Internal Stakeholders

“We are Alaska’s colleges and universities - how can we serve you better?"

Help shape the University of Alaska’s future by taking part in President Gamble's Strategic Direction process. You don't have to attend a listening session in person to add your voice and concerns. Please submit your comments online using the staff, student, or external stakeholders link.

Take the ONLINE SURVEY to join in the discussion.

The goal of the listening sessions is to gather feedback that will help identify how the university can improve value and service to our students and to Alaska communities. We're targeting our full effort over a five-year period, through the year 2017, the university’s 100th anniversary. Please take a few minutes, log on, and familiarize yourself with this effort. We hope you’ll join us, and be a part of the dialogue.

Where will the Strategic Direction team be next?
The team has already completed 30 listening sessions targeting students, staff, faculty, and alumni on campuses since Jan. 19, 2012. Find out  where future internal stakeholder listening sessions will take place; use following link to check the SCHEDULE for a listening session near you. At this point, the focus is on listening and hearing your feedback. This feedback will be very valuable as we work to shape Alaska's future.

To date, 20 listening sessions targeting community and business leaders have been conducted. The team presented its preliminary findings from the first round of sessions to the University of Alaska Board of Regents on Jan. 26, 2012. The REPORT is online.

Regents approve electrical upgrades

The University of Alaska Board of Regents at the Feb. 15-16, 2012, meeting approved the next phase of critical electrical upgrades at the Fairbanks campus -- an ongoing project that improves a number of issues with the 50-year-old distribution system.

The project’s second phase, at $24.2 million, is funded by a mixture of previously approved bonding as well as deferred maintenance money Gov. Sean Parnell has included in his FY13 capital budget. The project includes improvements to the voltage distribution system at UAF such as replacing aged transformers, installing a high-voltage cable and underground storage to house new high-voltage switches. All of the improvements will be compatible with a replacement heat and power plant in the future.

The first phase, which is nearing completion, included moving the main electrical switching gear out of the heat and power plant, upgrading the connection to the electrical grid and increasing the system’s voltage and distribution capacity. All of the changes follow a plan mapped out after a near failure of the plant in the late 1990s, which made it clear the electrical switches must be moved out of the main building in the event of a steam leak.

Photo by Todd Paris

Regents attend ribbon cutting for the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at UAF

Board members on Feb. 15 attended a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate recently completed test labs for UAF’s Alaska Center for Energy and Power.

ACEP is a four-year old entity that has already secured $18 million in externally funded energy research projects involving numerous private and public partners across the state.

The new facility, located next to the heat and power plant, houses three established test beds for energy projects, including a hybrid application laboratory, a diesel engine test lab and a hydrokinetic energy research bay. Speakers at the ceremony included Chancellor Brian Rogers, Board Chair Pat Jacobson of Kodiak, Sen. Lesil McGuire of Anchorage, Doug Johnson of Ocean Renewable Power Co., David Lockard of the Alaska Energy Authority and ACEP Director Gwen Holdmann, all pictured above cutting the ceremonial ribbon.

The event was well attended by numerous UA researchers, elected officials, business owners and students—an indication of the high interest in collaborative energy research.

Board approves certificate in baking and pastry arts

In other business at the February board meeting, the regents approved a certificate in baking and pastry arts, a reconfiguration of an earlier certificate in culinary arts that featured one of three concentrations: culinary arts, baking and pastry and cooking.

The UAF faculty recommended eliminating the concentrations, leaving a single certificate in culinary arts. A student now interested in such skills will be able to earn a certificate in either culinary arts or baking and pastry. The training earned through the certificate program would apply directly toward a two-year associate degree if the student desires to continue with their education.

Regent Bob Martin of Juneau resigns for health reasons

Carl Marrs voted to step in as vice-chair

Regent Bob Martin of Juneau, who has served the University of Alaska, students and the state of Alaska for seven years of his eight-year term on the board, resigned from his position in a letter to Gov. Sean Parnell several days before the February board meeting, citing health reasons. 

Many regents spoke highly of Martin’s contributions to the University of Alaska, the Southeast  Alaska region and the state as a whole during the "regents' comments" section of the February meeting.

Board members elected Regent Carl Marrs of Anchorage as the new vice-chair of the board, as Martin was serving in that role.

It's now up to Gov. Parnell to appoint a citizen to serve out the remainder of Martin's term. The Legislature must then confirm the appointment.

Legislative session 2012

Keep up to date on the latest legislative developments, upcoming meetings, hearings and opportunities for public testimony by reading the Capitol Report.

The Feb. 6 update included a focus on university specific legislation, UA research and upcoming university related hearings and meetings.

The Feb. 12 update focused on President Gamble's presentation of the FY13 operating budget to the House Finance University Budget Subcommittee. It also notes an important House Finance Committee hearing coming up on March 6 and 7, including how public testimony can be presented there. It also includes a breakdown and overview of the contents of the FY13 budget. Included in the report are points to cover in testimony on the operating budget, contact information for committee members and some resources for legislative advocacy training and tips.

The UA State Relations Web site has links to many resources including the UA Bill tracker, important meeting dates, advocacy materials, UA budget request information, legislative contact information, news updates and more.

SAA Highlights

The Statewide Administration Assembly met 10 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8, in the Sherman Carter Conference Room and the conference room in the Bragraw Office Building. All meetings are open to the public, and statewide workers are encouraged to contact their governance group to address workplace concerns, policies and other matters affecting Statewide staff. The next meeting will be March 14.

February Meeting Overview Includes

  • Governance office transition
  • Spring Service Awards
  • Policy and regulation review
  • UA Strategic Direction
  • Legislative update
  • Employee tuition waivers
  • Benefits updates
  • Leadership training
  • Building issues

For information please read the overviews HERE.

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