Deferred Maintenance, Capital Construction Drive UA Improvements

Construction crews work on a sub-floor early in the day on the new Life Sciences Facility being built on UAF's West Ridge. UAF photo by Todd Paris
Construction crews work on a sub-floor early in the day on the new Life Sciences Facility being built on UAF's West Ridge. UAF photo by Todd Paris.

The Need for Work

by Rachel Voris
“University campus life is competitive,” Gary Johnson, director of design and construction at UAF said of the recent construction happening across the university. “If we don’t stay competitive with other universities in terms of facilities, we can’t draw the best professors, and we cannot draw students. We must try to stay at the cutting edge of what we do here, so we can be the best.”

The University of Alaska has been planting campus seeds across the state for nearly a century, creating campuses in urban and rural communities. All campuses are working towards the university’s mission to inspire learning, disseminate knowledge and emphasize the North and its diverse peoples. In the past century, the university, which began in Fairbanks and now stretches to 16 communities in the state, has acquired land and buildings for student learning and research MORE...

Motions Passed by JHCC, Possible HSA to be Added

by Rachel Voris

Update: In October, the Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC) passed nine motions that could change the way health care plans function at the university. Donald Smith, the Chief Human Resource Officer, will approve or deny those motions at the end of November. Smith has 20 days to either deny or approve recommendations from the JHCC, and if no action is taken either way, the recommendations will become policy by default.

A detailed report including interviews with Erika Van Flein and Michelle Pope will be sent to all employees during the first week of December with information on each motion and how those motions impact health care.

One of the motions passed by the JHCC that could greatly benefit UA employees is the addition of a health savings account (HSA) with a qualifying high deductible health plan. This article will describe the health savings account, as well information on a qualifying high deductible health plan, as a way to better understand the health savings account if and when it is approved. MORE...

Campus Directors Highlighted In Film, Address Innovations at Campuses

On October 16, University of Alaska community campus directors met for their Fall 2012 Community Campus Director’s Conference in Anchorage. President Pat Gamble kicked off the meeting with a look at the history of the University of Alaska Strategic Direction Initiative (SDI). He described SDI as a process that is not designed to change what the University of Alaska is doing. He said that SDI is designed to change how we are doing what we do. President Gamble added, “We’re just starting phase two of SDI which consists of sifting through all of the data that’s been collected during the first phase, spending quality time defining what an issue or a problem is, then stating the outcomes we want. Phase three is focusing on… and implementing solutions.” We asked each director at the conference to tell us more about what’s happening at their campus on camera so we could share their innovations with you. In this issue of the Statewide Voice we selected three video clips of UA campus directors whose teams are working on creating greater opportunities for Student Achievement and Attainment.  

PWSCC Goes Virtual

UAA Prince William Sound Community College has designed an innovative way for students to take biology labs in a virtual environment. Wes Lundburg, Interim President at PWSCC, says the virtual labs are not only a great option for students, they’re also becoming a very popular option. Click here to see the story!

Student Success At Kenai Peninsula College

When you ask Kenai Peninsula College Director Gary Turner about 'Student Success' his response is "We're building it right now". By the summer of 2013,the KPC Kenai River Campus will be home to two new buildings designed to flow from one to the other, seamlessly. To find out more about the KPC vision, click here!

Thinking Outside the Box

UAS Ketchikan is the higher education hub for Ketchikan and its surrounding communities. One of the most important communities in Ketchikan is the US Coast Guard Station. Many of the men and women assigned there take advantage of the courses offered at UAS Ketchikan. For service members using the GI Bill, there are some requirements that have, in the past, been barriers. One such requirement provided UAS Ketchikan faculty the opportunity to experiment with a hybrid method of ‘expanding the classroom’ that is already gaining traction. UAS Ketchikan Interim Director Priscilla Schulte explains in this video  (also seen above).

Each UA campus is innovating new ways of meeting the needs of their student population in order to grow ‘Student Success’. To find out more about these innovations, click here. The link takes you to the SDI Updates page, highlighting activity that’s happening throughout the University of Alaska right now.  

UA Scholars Receptions Provide Outreach Opportunity to Top Students

President Gamble speaks at the UA Scholars Reception.
President Gamble speaks at the UA Scholars Reception in Fairbanks.

Potential members of the class of 2016 met with University of Alaska President Pat Gamble, chancellors and representatives from all three campuses during UA Scholars reception nights in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks November 12, 13 and 15. The annual events invite the current recipients of the UA Scholars Program $11,000 scholarship to be recognized for their achievement of being in the top 10 percent of their graduating high school class and for the opportunity to learn more about the university and its programs. Most importantly, the receptions provide the university an opportunity to reach out to some of Alaska’s top students and tell them that they are wanted by our university and that their future contributions to the state of Alaska are going to be vital to our state’s long-term success.

Read more about the UA Scholars Program in this month’s Spotlight.

Click here for a photo gallery from the three UA Scholars Receptions.

UA College Savings Plan Announces Scholarship Account Winners

Five-year-old Jensen Shafer from Anchorage was randomly selected to win a $25,000 UA College Savings Plan scholarship account.

Five-year-old Jensen Shafer from Anchorage was randomly selected to win a $25,000 UA College Savings Plan scholarship account. Four other Alaskans from Fairbanks to Kodiak have won $2,500 scholarship accounts.

The annual scholarship account drawing is for all applicants who answer, “yes” to question six of their Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application, which asks residents if they would like to automatically contribute half of their dividend into a UA College Savings Plan account. The Education Trust of Alaska, the trust established to administer the college savings program, funds the scholarship account giveaway.

“We were shocked when we heard that Jensen had won the scholarship account,” said Randee Shafer, Jensen’s mother. She and her husband Scott have been saving for their three children in the UA College Savings Plan since 2007. She said they like the investment options and the fact that their children can use the funds to attend schools here or outside of Alaska. “This account is really a gift for our whole family, and we are very grateful.” Although Jensen’s present career aspirations include skateboarding, pie eating and base-jumping, his parents are confident the scholarship account will help him achieve his dreams.

Winners of the $2,500 scholarship accounts are:

  • Olivia Bennett, 17, Kodiak
  • Julia Garrigues, 81, Anchorage (who has assigned her winnings to her granddaughter Marisa Garrigues)
  • Yelyzaveta Myshenyova, 12, Fairbanks
  • Morgan Rice, 14, Anchorage

This is the third year the UA College Savings Plan has offered the scholarship account giveaway. Its goal is to encourage Alaska families to save their Permanent Fund Dividends for higher education expenses. “The incentive is working,” said Bonnie Carroll, marketing manager for the college savings plan. She noted that 11,147 Alaskans contributed half of their 2012 PFD to the plan. This is a 15 percent increase over the number of 2011 contributors and a 41 percent increase over the number of contributors in 2009, before the giveaway began. “We are happy to see the number of Alaskans planning for higher education growing at such a fast pace.”

This is the first year that an adult was selected to win a scholarship account. Adults have the option to give their scholarship account to a friend or family member. One of the $2,500 scholarship account winners, Julia Garrigues, has been saving for her granddaughter Marisa and will be able to give her account an even bigger boost this year. A family’s odds of winning increase when parents and grandparents both check the savings plan box on their own PFD applications.

The UA College Savings Plan will offer the scholarship account giveaway again next year to everyone who contributes half of his or her 2013 PFD to the plan through the official application. The application period runs Jan. 1 through March 31, 2013. Residents can apply online or visit a distribution center.

Plan beneficiaries can use their funds to pay for education expenses at any eligible college, university, or vocational/technical school in Alaska or the Lower 48. Families can open a tax-advantaged account with as little as $50.

For more information about the PFD, go to http://www.pfd.state.ak.us. To learn more about the UA College Savings Plan and the $25,000 Scholarship Account Giveaway, go to http://www.uacollegesavings.com.

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