Students, staff, faculty and community members gather in the Lee Gorsuch Commons on the UAA campus to testify before the Board of Regents during their February meeting. Photo by Monique Musick

News Stories - February 2015

  • Reduced Contracts, Reduced FTE and Leave Without Pay (LWOP)…What Does It Mean To Me?
  • Gamble calls for food and travel restrictions
  • Qualify for FY16 wellness rebate by April 30
  • Onsite Biometric Screenings Scheduled
  • Change to State marijuana law does not change UA policy
  • Title IX Climate Survey Announcement
  • Regents approve tuition increase, schedule budget retreat
  • Donors respond to IRA Charitable Gift Rollover opportunity
  • The Capitol Report: February

Reduced Contracts, Reduced FTE and Leave Without Pay (LWOP)…

What Does It Mean To Me?

There’s been a lot of talk around the university about how to address the budget shortfall. One thing departments have been considering is reducing payroll costs while retaining valuable staff. This is usually achieved by a couple of methods: reducing contract length, or reducing full-time quivalency. 

Reducing contract length is done by having an employee work fewer pay periods over the course of the year. This usually means taking a twelve-month employee down to an eleven, ten or nine-month contract. The time the employee is not working is considered leave without pay (LWOP).

Reducing full-time equivalency (FTE) is another approach to save payroll dollars and can be structured to minimize impact on vesting and service credit accrual. While any reduction in contract or effort is going to naturally result in less pay, we can take advantage of PERS service credit rules to keep employees on track to vest and earn service credit. 

How do these options impact benefits, service credit and pay?  MORE...

Gamble calls for food and travel restrictions

In a Feb. 23 memorandum, President Gamble directed Statewide staff to take a closer look at expenditures for catering, other food and beverages, and travel. He said the current state and university fiscal situation requires a change in culture and behavior now and for the foreseeable future.

Specifically, conference travel will be reviewed and no more than a single department member will be allowed to attend a particular conference. To ensure maximum value, conference attendees will submit a written report within 14 days of returning to work articulating the impact and sharing learnings. Any conference travel already booked should be re-evaluated.

Use of video conferencing or other audio and video platforms is encouraged in lieu of travel. Gamble said this includes travel to Board of Regents’ meetings unless physical presence is required by a committee chair.

There will be no allowance for internal transfers to cover shortfalls when a department travel budget becomes exhausted.

All general fund expenditures for catering or food and beverage purchase will require prior approval. A business necessity must be demonstrated to expend funds of this nature. Application forms for prior approval are available through the Controller’s office: FORM.

For more information on catering approval policy or process contact Controller Myron Dosch, (907)450-8079, myron.dosch@alaska.edu

Qualify for FY16 wellness rebate by April 30

UA’s wellness program continues its positive growth. Last month we introduced the new on-site program manager from Healthyroads, Sara Rodewald. She has been working to identify wellness champions and to help transform the culture at UA into one of health and wellness. 

Building on last year’s successful rebate program, members wishing to qualify for a $600 rebate in FY16 must complete a Personal Health Assessment (PHA) and biometric screening, plus earn five additional credits before the April 30 deadline. Members can get credit for an annual exam, dental exam, adult immunizations, a vision exam and by being a non-user of tobacco products. Credits can also be earned by taking online courses, participating in telephonic coaching or a systemwide challenge through Healthyroads. The goal is to allow members flexibility in working toward their health goals.  MORE...

Onsite Biometric Screenings Scheduled

We have scheduled several onsite screening events coming up to help you get your screening and earn your wellness rebate! See the schedule for your location, then see the following information and link to sign up.  MORE....

If you can't make it to one of these screenings, and you are located in Fairbanks or Anchorage, you have another option with the Quest Patient Service Centers (PSC). You can schedule an appointment with a PSC by going to my.blueprintforwellness.com.

Change to State marijuana law does not change UA policy

As most of you know, Ballot Measure 2 regarding marijuana passed and went into effect February 24, 2015. Despite the changes in state law,[1]   it is critically important to understand that federal law regarding marijuana has not changed.   While the federal government may or may not choose to prosecute violations of federal law regarding marijuana, it remains a federal crime, for example, to possess and use even small amounts of marijuana. 

You also should be aware that Regents' Policy, University Regulation and Student Codes of Conduct related to marijuana are not required to change[2] and are not likely to change.   As a result, violating applicable Board of Regents Policy or University Regulation relating to illegal drugs, including marijuana, will continue to result in disciplinary action.

As a recipient of federal funds, UA has to comply with the Safe & Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act.   These laws require among other things that UA maintain and enforce policies prohibiting the use of illegal drugs. Failure to comply with federal laws and regulations regarding marijuana would jeopardize UA’s continued receipt of federal funds.  

Also, under Federal regulations certain University employees are subject to drug and alcohol testing because of the type of work they perform.  Testing positive for marijuana is a violation of these regulations and will remain grounds for employment sanctions including termination, even if the marijuana use occurred outside of work hours and otherwise in accordance with state law.

Please review the following drug-related policies and information as applicable to your university status:[3]

Regents’ Policy & University Regulation 04.02.040 - Federal Drug-Free Workplace requirements;

Regents’ Policy & University Regulation 04.02.050 - UA’s Controlled Substance Testing program.  

Regents’ Policy 05.12.094 – prohibition of possession or use of marijuana on UA property.

Regents’ Policy 09.02.020B(10) & University Regulation 09.02.020J   - student conduct involving illegal substances, including marijuana.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Dean of Students or Human Resources office.

[1] The law eliminates certain state criminal penalties and offenses related to marijuana and regulate the possession, distribution, use, and growing of marijuana by those 21 and over in Alaska. http://www.elections.alaska.gov/petitions/13PSUM/13PSUM-Proposed-Law.pdf

[2]The law would provide employers (AS 17.38.120(a)), schools (AS 17.38.120(d)) and recipients of federal funds (AS 17.38.010(d)) flexibility to restrict marijuana .  

[3] UA policies and regulations can be found at http://www.alaska.edu/bor/policy-regulations/

Title IX Climate Survey Announcement

As you may have heard or read, the University of Alaska in the near future will conduct an email-based climate survey on sexual harassment and assault.

The goal of this voluntary, confidential and anonymous survey is to help us understand how we can improve campus safety, outreach, education and services. It is a safety survey that gauges the appropriateness of our campuses attitudes and responses to sexual misconduct. We encourage your participation, but stress it is completely voluntary.

Your privacy is of paramount concern. The survey is anonymous. Only aggregate results will be compiled, with no collection of traceable information such as IP addresses that could link back to participants.

Survey participants are forewarned that questions are explicit and could be upsetting to some, especially those who have experienced sexual misconduct. People who object to the nature of the questions may opt not to take the survey or stop taking it at any time. No students or staff under the age of 18 will receive the survey. The survey itself will be accompanied by information about counseling and other resources on campus, should you need them. The survey questions were created via a review of national, peer-reviewed studies and current campus practices.

Regents approve tuition increase, schedule budget retreat

The University of Alaska Board of Regents on Friday approved a 5 percent increase on tuition at campuses throughout the state.

The 8-2 vote came near the end of the regents’ two-day meeting in Anchorage. The change translates to an $8 to $11 per credit hour increase for an in-state undergraduate student.

In September, the board voted against a tuition increase. That was before oil prices dropped and the state’s fiscal scenario changed. Today, the university is anticipating a shortfall of at least $40 million, which includes cost increases for things like utilities, fixed costs, and salary and benefits, as well as an expected decrease in state funding.

“Our fiscal picture was quite different back in September,” said board chair Jo Heckman. “Since then our fiscal picture has collapsed around us.”  MORE....

Donors respond to IRA Charitable Gift Rollover opportunity

For the last five years, a provision of the tax code that allows individuals age 70.5 or older to contribute their required minimum distributions to qualified charities without incurring any income tax, has been temporarily and retroactively extended to each new year. After months of monitoring the political climate in D.C., UA Foundation staff determined that the senate and President Obama would most likely reauthorize the IRA Charitable gift rollover (H.B. 5771) again for the coming year.

On Thursday, Dec. 22, an overnight effort from the Senior Data Analyst and staff identified every constituent over 70.5 years old with an email address on file; approximately 2,500 people. The Director of Gift Planning sent each an e-mail notification of the gift opportunity and followed-up with direct contact to campus development officers. On Friday afternoon, Dec. 23, President Obama signed the bill and donor inquiries began.

Meanwhile, the Fund and Gift Services team prepared two versions of an IRA gift acknowledgement letter based on whether or not the law was passed and prepared to serve donors with either contingency throughout the holiday closure. The result was fifteen donors were able to significantly contribute to the University of Alaska in 2014 with IRA rollover gifts that totaled $184,483.89. Seven of those gifts, totaling $158,176.86 were received after the 12/23 email to donors. 

Through the creative, collaborative and quick work of multiple foundation teams, the UA Foundation was able to react to this small window of opportunity and effectively serve new and existing donors.

The Capitol Report: February

By Chris Christensen, associate vice president for state relations

February 13, 2015

Today is the 25th day of the legislative session. The House is about halfway through the operating budget review process, and the Senate has just begun its work.

Last week, the House’s University Budget Subcommittee had two hearings on our FY16 operating budget. President Gamble provided an overview of the university system, and discussed the operating budget that the governor submitted to the legislature. He also talked about the short-term and long-term impact on the university of the decline in oil revenue, and the plans that UA has been developing to deal with the resulting reduction in state funds.

Click here to read the full Capitol Report with more information about:

  • subcommittee meetings - past and future
  • advocacy
  • lunch and learn
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