SAA Highlights

The SAA Highlights provide a brief overview of discussion items from monthly meetings of the Statewide Administration Assembly, and is published in each issue of the Statewide Voice as a courtesy to our employees. SAA often reviews processes and decisions still under development, so discussions at meetings may not reflect the final or official views of the University of Alaska. Consider these Highlights as informational in nature, not the final word on a subject.

February 8, 2012 SAA meeting overview

The next SAA meeting will be Wednesday, Mar. 14, at 10 a.m.

The Statewide Administration Assembly met Feb. 8. The following is an overview of the meeting. 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. If you have any questions please contact SAA president Monique Musick at mmusick@alaska.edu.

SAA President’s Report
Pat Ivey submitted her retirement notice effective March 1. Her last day will be Feb. 24. Monique Musick co-signed a memo from Juella Sparks, Staff Alliance Chair, and other governance leaders, to President Gamble stating the wish for governance involvement in the selection of new governance leadership. Gamble assured the governance groups that the governance process is secure, and that plans are coming together to handle Ivey’s departure.

The Statewide Annual Service Awards will be held on April 24 at 2 p.m. A list of employees and their years of service was created by HR and sent to Monique. She will start notifying people to start their gift selection process and verify spelling for name plates. Deadline for selections and name spellings is the end of March. Flyers are up advertising the Outstanding Service Awards. Nominations are due March 9.

Staff Make Students Count 2012 is underway. Deadline for submissions are March 22. Awards are announced at the June BOR meeting and include an Alaska Airlines voucher and plaque. One recipient is selected from each MAU and Statewide.

The disclaimer that was previously on the SAA Highlights page is now included on the Statewide Voice page as well stating: “The SAA Highlights provide a brief overview of discussion items from monthly meetings of the Statewide Administration Assembly. SAA often reviews processes and decisions still under development, so discussions at meetings may not reflect the final or official views of the University of Alaska. Consider these Highlights as informational in nature, not the final word on a subject.”

Staff Alliance has a new member from Southeast: Mae Delcastillo. Monique invited the Staff Alliance to participate in the SAA listening session on March 29.  Staff Alliance decided to meet in Anchorage for the Spring retreat instead of Juneau. They wanted to figure out alternative ways for effective advocacy that does not include a capital visit. The employee tuition waiver resolution that Staff Alliance sent to President Gamble was rejected on the grounds that it needed to go through the System Governance Council.

The Staff Alliance resolution was brought before the System Governance Council and they passed a motion in support of it at their March meeting. Additional discussion at the System Governance Council meeting included the legislative process and how to show a cohesive and united front from all MAUs. The consensus was that staff and faculty in Juneau appear “self-serving.” The Coalition of Student Leaders is far more effective, as are alumni and businesses that hire UA graduates.

President Gamble spoke to the System Governance Council on a number of topics. He clarified the policy and regulation review process. The proposed policy changes will be going to the BOR in April. They are currently in the compiling stage of the review. As soon as the recommended policy changes are compiled, governance groups will have the opportunity to review them before they go to the regents at the April meeting.

Additionally Gamble discussed the current legislative outlook, budget strategy and the Strategic Direction process. He reported that the feedback from listening sessions is being organized into major themes based on frequency, volatility and distribution. The goal is to turn the themes into outcomes and then spend time looking at ways to achieve those outcomes. The final step will be whittling down the outcomes to ones that can be reasonably controlled, are financially viable, and achieve the desired outcome. While it may be a primarily academic discussion it will take a lot of people sitting down together to brainstorm effective change, and staff input will be vital to the process. Involving many viewpoints will bring fuller solutions.

The System Governance Council also discussed feedback coming in from students and faculty about the Stay on TRACK program. Everyone feels that it is a good program, but it is catered to a small population. Non-traditional students feel it doesn’t comply with their work and family schedules.

Public Comments
Tina Holland reminded everyone involved with the Staff Garden to please keep safety in mind. The garden has a steep incline so please be careful and wear shoes with good tread on them.

UA’s Strategic Direction
Governance groups are interested in how the Strategic Direction sessions will be reviewed, timeline for review, and how the inputs will be handled.  With most groups not meeting in the summer there is a push to have some strategic direction outcomes together before May so that all governance groups and review them.

To get an overview of how the themes are shaping up, visit the Shaping Alaska’s Future website and read the Strategic Direction Update 1/26/2012.

Legislative Update
The January issue of SW Voice provided a link to BASIS, a web site by the State of Alaska where you can track bills, find legislator contact information, listen to audio recordings of meetings and review schedules of upcoming committee meetings. As a University of Alaska employee you should also be getting regular email updates from Support UA. 

Chris Christensen was able to take time between legislative meetings to provide a brief update. It is early in the legislative game right now. There have been three budget hearings in which Gamble has testified. Gamble has been well received with the legislature, mostly due to the harmony that the MAUs have displayed. Legislatures are happy to see the MAUs working as a system as opposed to three separate units. Hoping this happiness translates into success.

Employee Tuition Waivers
Tara Ferguson covered the draft changes to the employee tuition waiver regulation. Two statements were added for clarification purposes. They cover practices that have never been allowed under the current waiver, but have never been but in writing – 500 level classes are not eligible and if spouses are both employees of UA, you can only use the waiver as an employee, not as a spouse of an employee. The tuition waiver cannot be used by new employees until after a six-month probationary period. All employees and dependants enrolled within a degree program must comply with the SAP. Year-long classes are exempt from SAP. A draft to the tuition waiver benefit changes will be available in the policy review.

The SAA resolution opposing changes to the employee tuition waiver resolution was voted on and approved unanimously. 

Benefits Updates
Discussion ensued regarding the new Group Wellness program. It was well received except for the clause that restricts participants within a department to members in UA’s health plan.  This clause can be problematic. Some felt that it may cross a privacy line among employees. It was proposed to have these concerns brought to SHCC’s attention.

Don Smith would like to address the governance groups concerning the proposed tobacco policies. Right now all documents and communications are in draft format. The potential of this policy to restrict hiring the most qualified applicant for a position due to their tobacco use was discussed. Concern that this could affect the quality of the university was expressed. It seems that UA is one of the first universities that is proposing this policy. Some universities have already gone smoke-free. Concern was also expressed over possible discipline related to the policy in the case of recidivism or someone who starts smoking after hire. Tobacco use would not be tested for, nor policed, but falsification of one’s application has consequences including the potential of termination or other discipline.

Other Human Resource Issues
Anne Sakumoto spoke on the training and development resources available to UA employees as part of our benefit package. She acknowledged that SkillSoft Resources has been renewed until 2015. Sakumoto is in the process of updating Banner to allow more people to participate in leadership training. The business council has identified positions eligible for most of the 50 spaces available, including governance leaders, but a few extra positions may be available. If interested in partaking in leadership training, please contact Anne so that she can add you to the program.

Butrovich Building Issues
John Renfro was unable to attend last month’s meeting, but a list of comments was passed on to him. It was suggested to invite him again to address the group and custodial concerns in the Butrovich.


Back to Top