System News March 2017

  • Strategic Pathways Phase II update
  • Board of Regents to hold April meeting
  • UAF Chancellor search update
  • Anchorage business professionals discuss economic impact of the university in Anchorage
  • Board of Regents address the potential impact of budget cuts facing the University of Alaska
  • Postcard campaign seeks to show support for strong UA budget
  • The Capitol Report: March 28, 2017
  • Open Enrollment moves online
  • Teach for Alaska Scholarship
  • University moving forward on terms of Voluntary Resolution Agreement
  • Collaboration to raise postsecondary attainment the focus of “65 by 2025 Alaska Can – Together!” conference
  • Benefits update

Strategic Pathways Phase II update

UA President Jim Johnsen outlined early thoughts on the eight Strategic Pathways review areas in Phase II to the Board of Regents during its meeting several weeks ago. He shared with the board the full range of options along with the pros and cons, and discussed with them the input received from his first round of unit meetings at each university. The perspectives offered during those meetings helped inform the discussion, and he’s grateful for the university community’s important counsel.

Going forward in further evaluating the options, Johnsen will ask for help from the university community once again so that we can come to some final recommendations. In a few areas where there was broad consensus for one option, he plans to present final recommendations to the regents in June. In other areas, we will extend the engagement period well into the summer months with recommendations being presented to the board in the fall.

Chancellors have communicated to their universities dates for the next round of meetings. The dates are also posted on the Pathways website along with the presentation Johnsen made to the regents with initial thoughts on each area at http://alaska.edu/pathways/.

Board of Regents to hold April meeting

The Board of Regents will be holding a special meeting April 13 to discuss the FY18 budget. Campuses will provide updates on their planning processes and the board will be updated with the latest news from Juneau on legislative progress.

UAF Chancellor Search update

The chancellor search committee is reviewing applications for the chancellor position and expects to announce finalists in mid-April. Finalists will likely visit the Fairbanks campus in late April to meet with UAF leadership and hold forums for the community, faculty, staff and students. Detailed schedules for the campus visit will be distributed via the Cornerstone and posted online at www.uaf.edu/chancellor/search. The search committee includes representatives from UAF faculty, students and staff, as well as community members and UAF alumni from Fairbanks and the rural communities UAF serves.

Anchorage business professionals discuss economic impact of the university in Anchorage

In the current fiscal environment, what would reductions in funding for the University mean for the Anchorage economy?

That’s the question that four Anchorage business professionals discussed March 21 at the 49th State Brewing Company. They also spoke about what the University means for their businesses and communities. Read More: http://aedcweb.com/uaa-impact-event/

Board of Regents address the potential impact of budget cuts facing the University of Alaska

ANCHORAGE – The University of Alaska Board of Regents delved into a wide array of the university’s strengths and challenges at its meeting March 2-3, focusing directly on the FY18 budget making its way through the House Finance Committee.

During its two-day meeting in Anchorage, the board agreed that the university must continue advocating for the $341 million unrestricted general fund (UGF) budget request it passed in November. Additionally, the board said further reductions to the university’s current state UGF budget of $325 million will require serious cuts, including the loss of programs as well as staff and term and non-tenure track faculty positions.

President Jim Johnsen told the board that if the budget is cut, decisions would need to be made to address what programs or services the university would no longer be able to offer. Almost every unit would be affected, he said.  MORE...

Postcard campaign seeks to show support for UA budget

A postcard campaign beginning in early April should help to show legislators the strong public support for a level UA budget. The University of Alaska FY18 budget is one of a few major items that will be on the table as the conference committee of House and Senate members meets to settle on a state operating budget bill. On one side, the House budget stands at $325 million unrestricted general funds, in line with the governor's budget proposal and equal to what the university received in fiscal year 2017. On the other side, the Senate's proposal is approximately $309 million, which is a reduction of $16 million, or 5 percent.

The postcard aims to draw attention to the critical decision that legislators are facing and the impact that the Senate's cut would have on the University of Alaska. The campaign will encourage supporters to contact their legislators and ask them to support the House budget level at $325 million. Digital cards with a variety of reasons for supporting the House budget will be available for e-mailing to legislators. Private funds are being used to print a limited number for mailing.

The Capitol Report: March 28, 2017

Read the full report with information and links for the following highlights HERE:

Hurry up and wait:

  • The House passed its version of the state operating budget last Monday, but the bill was not transmitted to the Senate until Friday.
  • The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled the balance of the week and this weekend to incorporate the House’s recommendation into its own operating budget work.

Tax Legislation

  • The House Finance Committee spent all of last week discussing HB 111, the House Majority’s oil and gas tax reform proposal. This week the committee is shifting its attention back to HB 115, the majority’s proposal to restructure the Permanent Fund and institute a state income tax.
  • The House Education Committee passed HB 146, Rep. Claman’s school income tax legislation. The legislation taxes the adjusted gross income of every person who earns income in Alaska. The revenue collected from the tax would be deposited into the general fund with the intent of having that income designated for public education.

Bills on the Move

  • The Senate Education Committee introduced SB 96, a substantial education reform initiative.
  • The House passed HB 64 which creates a task force on reading proficiency and instruction and the effects of dyslexia.
  • The Senate Finance Committee held a preliminary hearing on SB 31, Governor Walker’s proposal to impose a two-year salary freeze on non-union public employees.
  • The Senate Education Committee held a preliminary hearing on SB 78, Senator Bishop’s legislation creating an education endowment fund and Permanent Fund Dividend lottery.
  • The House Labor & Commerce Committee held a preliminary hearing on HB 83, Representative Kito’s bill establishing a new tier within the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) that would give new employees an option of selecting either a defined benefit or defined contribution pension benefit.

Coming up this week

  • The House Fisheries Committee will hold a preliminary hearing on House Concurrent Resolution 8, a committee resolution urging the University of Alaska to maintain the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center (KSMSC).
  • Wednesday, March 29th at 8:00 a.m. the State Board of Education is scheduled to present to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees.
  • Friday, March 31st at 1:30 p.m. the House Finance Committee will hold a second hearing on HB 141, Representative Fansler’s bill extending the Technical Vocational Education Program (TVEP) for five years through 2022.

Open Enrollment moves online

The Open Enrollment process – the time when employees can elect health plans, add or drop dependents, select savings accounts, elect or increase supplemental life and other plan management tasks – has been moved online for the first time this year. Instead of filling out and submitting paperwork, the forms will be filled out and submitted using Google forms. A copy of the form will be sent to employees’ email, an option that was not available with paper forms. Open Enrollment will run from April 17 to May 15 this year.

The change is part of ongoing efforts to streamline business practices and increase efficiency. The option was not available until all UA employees were using Google and could securely sign-on to access the forms. MORE....

Teach for Alaska Scholarship

Great news! The application deadline for the Teach for Alaska Presidential Scholarship has been extended to April 15. Through the Drive the Change campaign, the University of Alaska is offering the first-ever Teach for Alaska Presidential Scholarship for an aspiring teacher. High school juniors and seniors who plan to pursue a degree in teaching are eligible for the $12,000 academic scholarship to the University of Alaska. Interested students can apply at DriveChangeAK.org. Please share the news about the scholarship with anyone you know who might be interested! We are excited to be able to offer this new opportunity to young Alaskans who want to help drive change in our state.

University moving forward on terms of Voluntary Resolution Agreement

Last month we announced that the university entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement (VRA) with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) over handling of cases of sexual harassment and assault and preventative efforts by our universities. We also announced that Mary Gower has been appointed Chief Title IX Officer.

As directed by the VRA, Gower will be convening a Statewide Title IX Task Force to address best practices for handling complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence and patterns or systemic concerns that arise during the resolution of such complaints. There are many components of the VRA that must be met by May 1, and/or started immediately for submission to OCR later in the year. Here is a brief overview of some of the major initiatives which will impact our universities in coming months.

Revised Title IX Policies & Procedures - This has multiple actions and points of approval including governance and the Board of Regents.  This is on a rapid timeline; revised language will be proposed to the Regents at the June meeting.

Climate Survey - The VRA requires that we complete climate surveys through 2019. The first survey is anticipated to go into the field this October; work is in progress to facilitate that timeline.

Training – Gower and the Title IX Coordinators are working on multi-point plans regarding Title IX training for university students and employees.

Collaboration to raise postsecondary attainment the focus of “65 by 2025 Alaska Can – Together!” conference

Representatives from Alaska agencies, schools, businesses and institutions met in Anchorage March 23 and 24 for the “65 by 2025 Alaska Can – Together!” conference. The conference goal was to unite cross-sector professionals in increasing the number of Alaskans enrolling and succeeding in postsecondary education.

Alaska is one of a handful of states for which the 35- to 64-year population have higher rates of degree completion than do 18- to 34-year olds.  Meanwhile, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects that roughly 65 percent of Alaska’s fastest-growing, high-wage jobs will require some form of post-high school credential by the year 2020. Focused action to improve postsecondary access and completion is critical.

The third annual conference is coordinated by the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network, comprised of highly-engaged stakeholders working together to reach the stated goal of “65 by 2025” for Alaska.  The Network aims to raise the percent of the population with workforce credentials and degrees from 47 percent to 65 percent by 2025. Specific strategies include to create synergy among service providers, support professional development, strengthen public messaging and disseminate relevant research.

Featured speakers included Alaska State Laureate Writer, Ernestine Hayes; University of Alaska President, Dr. Jim Johnsen; College Success Foundation, Executive Director, Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva; and the Kresge Foundation’s, Managing Director – Education Program, William Moses.  See President Johnsen’s live presentation on the UA System Facebook page HERE.

To learn more about the conference and opportunities to get involved with the Network, visit 65by2025.org.

Benefits Update

Open Enrollment is less than a month away! Starting Monday, April 17, you’ll have an opportunity to make benefit plan changes. Open Enrollment is April 17 through May 15.

What’s not changing?

  • The amount you pay for health care. The UA Choice rates for FY18 are the same as for FY17. The plans themselves are not changing either.
  • Supplemental Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment rates are also staying the same.

New in-network providers in Anchorage!

  • Earlier this year Premera announced that the orthopedic clinic in Anchorage joined the network as of January 1, 2017. OrthoAlaska is the largest orthopedic clinic in the state, combining the Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic (AFOC) and Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA).
  • In February, Premera announced that ACENT, the Alaska Center for Ear, Nose & Throat in Anchorage, joined the network, bringing six new providers in the ENT practice into the network.

What else is new?

  • We’re adding a new service to help expecting mothers with high risk pregnancies manage their condition with personalized resources, a dedicated nurse to answer questions and guide your care and a toll-free “BabyLine” for 24/7 help and support.
  • Newborn care management program for infants admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to help navigate the confusing and emotionally draining experience of having a baby in intensive care. With some high cost babies on our plan in recent years, the Joint Health Care Committee wanted to offer this resource to parents to help improve outcomes, manage care and avoid readmissions when possible.

Patient Care is now DirectPath!

  • Only the name has changed, DirectPath offers the same advocacy services as Patient Care to help you navigate your health plan benefits.  You can get price quotes and comparisons for medical care before you schedule procedures to help you shop for the best value in health care.
  • The service is 100 percent confidential and 100 percent covered by the University of Alaska.
  • Their team of advocates are at your service to help you become a more informed health care consumer and can help with any medical, dental, vision, FSA or HSA questions.
  • Call DirectPath at (866) 253-2273 for help with benefits questions, claims issues, finding a provider or comparing the cost of health care options. During Open Enrollment, they can even help you choose which health plan is right for you!

Health Care Reform Update

You’ve heard about the “repeal and replace” efforts in Washington and are probably wondering what it means to you. For now, we’re watching and paying close attention to what is being discussed and how it will affect our plan. The ACA is still the law of the land, and we’re committed to providing you and your dependents a benefit plan with choice, a strong provider network and preventive/wellness benefits.

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