News Stories - May 2015

  • UA Board of Regents Recognized as Trailblazers by the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance
  • The Capitol Report: May 2015
  • President Announces Selection of University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor
  • Annual “5/29 College Savings Day” offers excellent time for families to start saving
  • Board of Regents to meet in Fairbanks
  • JHCC Votes to Keep Wellness Incentive the Same for Next Year

UA Board of Regents Recognized as Trailblazers by the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance

On Thursday, May 21, the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance recognized the University of Alaska Board of Regents at the Alliance’s 2015 Summit Conference in Anchorage. The UA Board of Regents was awarded the “Trailblazer” Award by the Alaska Control Alliance Paving the Way Awards Committee. The citation on the award stated: “The University of Alaska Board of Regents made a bold decision to protect the health and futures of all UA students, faculty, and staff by passing a tobacco-free/smoke-free policy. This move marks UA as one of the few university systems in the nation to pass a tobacco-free policy impacting not just a single campus, but all campuses system-wide.”

The UA Board of Regents adopted the systemwide smoke-free, tobacco-free policy in December 2014. The policy requires all UA campuses and the statewide offices to be smoke-free, tobacco-free by Dec. 1, 2015.

The Capitol Report

By Chris Christensen
Associate Vice President for State Relations

At the time of this posting, the legislature is in its second special session, following the adjournment of the regular session on April 27 and the adjournment of the first special session on May 21.
The operating budget bills (HB72 & HB73) passed the House and Senate during the regular session on April 27 and were transmitted to the Governor on May 1. The budget proposed spending $5 billion, but the state is only expected to receive $2 billion in revenues. To make up the $3 billion difference, the legislature needed to withdraw funds from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR). The CBR is a savings account that requires a three-quarters vote of the House and of the Senate to access, rather than a simple majority. The Senate was able to attain a three-quarters vote, but the House was not; members of the House minority refused to provide the votes needed to reach three-quarters. This meant that the budget that was passed was not fully funded, and the money to pay for state government operations would run out sometime in the late summer or early fall. There was an expectation that the legislature would call itself into special session later in the summer, to try again to get the three-quarters vote.

Instead, Governor Walker called the legislature into its first special session on April 28 to address the underfunding and several other significant policy issues. Public hearings and private negotiation have been taking place since then, in an effort to attain the three-quarters vote needed to fully fund the operating budget.

On May 19, 2015, Governor Walker vetoed most of the FY16 operating appropriations contained in HB 72. He reduced the budget to the $2 billion level to match available revenues and focused available state funding on health, life, safety and debt service obligations. The impact to the University of Alaska was a state appropriation reduction of $242.5 million from the amount included in HB72. This is a reduction of approximately 72 percent.

During the current special session, the legislature is considering bills that would add the vetoed money back to the budget, as well as negotiating to get the three-quarters vote needed to fully fund these add-backs. No one knows when these issues might be resolved.

Board of Regents to Meet in Fairbanks

The Board of Regents will be in Fairbanks June 3-5 for a series of meetings including a joint session with the Alaska State Board of Education and a special meeting with the UA Foundation Board of Trustees on June 3, followed by the regular business meeting at the Butrovich Building on the UAF campus June 4-5.

Thursday morning at 8 a.m. President Gamble will award the Staff Make Students Count award to a staff member from each university and Statewide recognizing exceptional service to students. Public testimony will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday.

Business for the June meeting includes a budget discussion and acceptance of FY16 budget appropriations and distribution plans. The board will be approving revenue bonds for the Combined Heat & Power Plant as well as student government and natural resources fund budgets. Vice President of Academic Affairs and Research Dan White will provide an update on Theme 4 of Shaping Alaska's Future: Research & Development and Scholarship to Enhance Alaska's Communities and Economic Growth, while UAF provides a presentation on Centennial Milestones and Events as the flagship campus gears up for its 100-year anniversary celebrations.

The full agenda and link to video streaming will be posted to the Board of Regents site: http://www.alaska.edu/bor/agendas/

JHCC Votes to Keep Wellness Incentive the Same for Next Year

On May 20 the Joint Health Care Committee voted to continue the Healthyroads Wellness Incentive using the same criteria as the past year—requiring the Personal Health Assessment and biometrics plus five additional points earned through healthy behaviors, medical exams or online health education training. This coming year there will be additional opportunities for earning points including more challenges and some onsite education opportunities. Employees and their spouses or FIPs can earn up to $600 each through the wellness rebate incentive. The program will "look back" to give credit for any exams or activity since May 1 although the new incentive year will begin July 1. The website will be updated by Aug. 1, but will include the full 12 months (5/1/15-4/30/16) to get credit for preventative exams and earn activity points.

In the past there was a plan discussed to move into an outcomes-based wellness program in the coming year, but industry best practices indicate that greater engagement in the program and developing a history of wellness behavior is necessary before transitioning into another phase of engagement. Delayed implementation, website upgrades and other challenges this past year have now been worked out, and optimism is high for the coming year's program. Look for more information from Healthyroads coming soon.

If you have any questions about the wellness program or the Healthyroads web site, please contact our onsite program manager, Sara Rodewald at 450-8203 or sararo@ashn.com.

SW Transformation Team to Meet with Direct Reports

Last week, each of the President's direct reports provided responses to questions asked by the Transformation Team to answer the broader question, "What is the essential role for UA Statewide?”

On May 27 and May 28 the Transformation Team will be meeting with each of the president's direct reports to discuss the responses.

The team will continue their work in June and July with draft recommendations available for comment in August. The Transformation Team website will continue to post updates to the timeline and project as more information becomes available.  Also on the website is a link to the staff submission form hosted by the Statewide Administration Assembly.  Please visit the page for more information www.alaska.edu/swbir/transformation-team/.

President Announces Selection of University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor

University of Alaska (UA) President Patrick K. Gamble announced that Rick Caulfield has been selected to replace John Pugh as Chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). Pugh announced last October he would retire at the end of May. Caulfield currently serves as UAS Provost.

A committee of UAS faculty and staff led the national search which resulted in Caulfield’s selection. Gamble commented, “I was very pleased to confirm the recommendation of the UAS selection committee. Rick has worked tirelessly alongside of John Pugh as his right-hand in the advancement of not only our southeast campuses, but of UA’s broad based Shaping Alaska’s Future initiative. He is well positioned to assume the leadership role on behalf of UAS faculty, staff and students, to guide UAS into a bright future.”

As provost and chief academic officer at UAS Caulfield is responsible for ensuring that UAS academic programs are fully compliant with regional, national, and professional accreditation standards. He is actively engaged with implementing the university’s strategic and assessment goals and strategies.

Dr. Caulfield has been a part of the University of Alaska for more than 30 years. He began his higher education teaching career in 1985 at the university’s Bristol Bay Campus. He became a full professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as part of the Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development. His research interests took him to Greenland, Denmark, Canada, New Zealand, and Russia. He has published two books and numerous other professional publications and served on national and international science steering committees and boards, including the NSF Oceans-Atmosphere-Ice Interactions Scientific Committee, the International Arctic Social Sciences Association, and the University of the Arctic.

A 40-year Alaska resident, Dr. Caulfield has combined academic and professional interests with experiences in commercial fishing, flying, sailing, home construction, dog mushing, hunting, recreational fishing, and other outdoor pursuits.

Dr. Caulfield earned a PhD in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and BA and BS degrees in Political Science and Natural Resources from the University of California, Berkeley.

Annual “5/29 College Savings Day” offers excellent time for families to start saving

The University of Alaska College Savings Plan joins state savings plans around the nation on May 29 (5/29) in celebrating “5/29 College Savings Day” and the importance of saving for education expenses.

“Higher education is one of the best investments a person can make,” said Lael Oldmixon, UA College Savings Plan director. “I encourage Alaska families to take some time on 5/29 College Savings Day to discuss college savings goals as a family and learn how a college savings plan can help make those goals a reality.”

The UA College Savings Plan will host a series of 5/29 Day events. In Anchorage on May 16, plan staff celebrated at the Reading Rendezvous event at the Loussac Library. In Fairbanks on May 29, they will host a celebration from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. at the Fairbanks Children’s Museum, in partnership with Fairbanks Families, the Northstar Imagination Library and Thread. The event will offer refreshments, activities, giveaways and information about the UA College Savings Plan.

“It is never too early to set an expectation that going to college is essential in today’s world. We want to help the families who participate in 5/29 Day events get a head start toward saving for college,” said Oldmixon.

Additionally, during May the plan will give away a limited number of its popular T-shirts. To request a free shirt visit the UA College Savings Plan’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ak529. This year, blue shirts feature a diploma and the words, “Watch out college, here I come!” UA is asking recipients to share photos of their youngsters wearing the shirts on the UA College Savings Plan’s Facebook page.

“We enjoyed seeing kids across the state sporting their shirts so much that we decided to do it again,” Oldmixon said. “The real aim though is to get both parents and children thinking about education and workforce training beyond high school.”

The UA College Savings Plan is one of the top-rated 529 plans in the country and is helping thousands of Alaska families save for future college expenses. T. Rowe Price, a well-known financial services provider, manages the plan on behalf of UA. Accounts in the plan grow tax-free and distributions from accounts are tax free when used to pay for qualified college expenses at any institution, including the University of Alaska. Alaskans can invest in the plan directly, through employer payroll deduction or through the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. To learn more about the UA College Savings Plan, visit http://www.uacollegesavings.com.

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