Welcome to the Grapevine

The Grapevine is administered by the UAF University Relations Department and was designed to dispel rumors, clarify misconceptions and clear up misunderstandings about UAF topics of a general nature to improve communication between the administration and the UAF community.

University Relations does our very best to get timely answers to your questions. Ideally, we try to post an answer within 48 hours of receiving the question. Occasionally, it can take up to several weeks to get an answer depending on the availability of the individuals who have the answers and the number of people who may be involved. If you feel your question has not been answered in a timely manner, please resubmit the original question or leave your name and contact information so we can update you on our progress.

Thank you for your suggestions.

Submit your question or suggestion here.

As always, building and facilities issues that need attention should be forwarded to dispatch@fs.uaf.edu or reported directly to 474-7000. Unsafe conditions should be reported to Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management here.

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- Trails system maintenance

Question

The trail system used to be maintained each year during the summer. Nice birch chips were added each spring, making the campus trails a popular place for Fairbanks runners and hikers. The last few years, the trails have not been maintained during the summer, leading to very wet areas. Is this due to budget cuts? Is there a way to donate to trail maintenance? As a frequent user, I would be willing to donate, but not sure how. This summer, the trails are so bad, I’ve had to move off my running group off campus.

Response

The trails are maintained during the summer months, but the position responsible for maintenance is off contract from the end of ski season until the first of July. Typically the trails need time to dry out after the snow melts before maintenance can be started, so the contract reduction is not due to budget cuts, just to the nature of the work required. The natural water table in North Campus does appear to be greater than normal this year, which likely is what you are noticing. The trails manager has been placing chips on sections of the Skarland Trail and will continue to do so for the remainder of the summer, in addition to clearing any downed trees and mowing the trails. The trails budget has been cut for the past three years, and if you are a skier you most likely noticed a reduced level of service over the past winter. If you would like to donate to the trails, you can do so by visiting the UA Foundation at https://www.alaska.edu/foundation/ways_to_give/give-now/ and donate to #21256 Ski Trail Maintenance. Thanks.

Kara Axx, North Campus manager

Question

Now that the Hulbert Terrain Park has been dismantled, what will happen with the yurt sitting at the top of the hill?

Response

The yurt will be put up for auction for a second time in the coming days. If anyone is interested, it will be posted on https://www.govsales.gov soon.
— Mark Oldmixon, director, Department of Recreation, Adventure and Wellness

 

Question

I have heard from a number of people in various departments on campus that travel reimbursement is taking a very long time (for example 6 months). Can you please tell me how long a traveler should expect to wait for reimbursement? Specifically, how long from the time they turn in receipts to their travel person until they receive a TER to sign?  How long from a signed TER to seeing the direct deposit? While I realize every department is different, is there any consensus on what is reasonable? Thanks.

Response

I can’t answer for department process and time frames, but here at Central Travel we now pay as travel documents come in (UAF Travel Reimbursement and Audit Processes), so there is no delay. Travel documents are keyed within three to five days.

We advise departments to manage the completions of their documents. If there is a delay of one to two weeks from the time the department sends the document to us and they have not received an email requesting more information, they are encouraged to contact us.

UA regulations state:

d. General Reimbursement
(1) Reimbursement of travel expenses will be made to the traveler within 15 business days after receipt of a properly completed and approved travel expense report by the business or travel office.

— Dawniel Dupee, travel auditor, UAF Office of Finance and Accounting

Question

Will the university be able to maintain teaching students — hold classes — during this uncertain fiscal time? What is the plan for educating the students?

Response

Yes. The university is dedicated to its core mission of educating students. So if there is no state appropriation for the university’s operating budget by July 1,  UAF will continue its educational programs and services, including graduate student funding, advising, and student placement testing. Similarly, UAF will continue to conduct externally funded research and educational and outreach grants.

Please refer to the FY18 Operating Budget Impasse Employee Information website http://www.alaska.edu/hr/budget-impasse-info/ for additional information and answers to frequently asked questions.

There will also be a budget forum on Friday, June 23, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Wood Center ballroom on the Fairbanks campus. The event will be webcast at media.uaf.edu and archived for those who can’t make it in person.

—Michelle Renfrew, director, UAF University Relations

Question

What is the university’s policy on breaks? I was told that exempt staff do not get paid breaks. Is that true? I thought under federal law that employers have to give short break periods? Thanks for any insight.

Response

The State of Alaska’s regulation only addresses the issue for employees between the ages of 14-17.  Federal regulation does not govern this issue. There is no formal UA policy on breaks; however, the university’s past practice has been that employees who typically work a full day typically receive a 15-minute break in the morning and in the afternoon. UAF currently uses this practice to the extent it is possible.
Supervisors should be aware that breaks, when applied appropriately, do benefit both employees and employers through increased employee engagement, creativity and productivity.
Here is a link to a summary of the rules in Alaska: https://www.laborlawcenter.com/education-center/alaskalunch-and-break-law/.

— Mary Schrage, assistant to the director & operations manager, UAF Human Resources, 907-474-6955

Question

I noticed on June 5, 2017, that there is a footpath light illuminated just outside of the fencing erected to keep people away from the Wood Center construction. It is on the pedestrian side of the construction office trailer. Since we’re only two weeks away from the longest day, will somebody please turn it off? We don’t need to pay for the extra electricity. Thanks.

Response

Facilities Services reports that most lights are controlled by sensors. Someone will check to see why these lights are still on.

Question

AHRB and Murie vending machines are mostly empty and haven’t been replenished in weeks. Will the vending machines on the West Ridge be filled this summer?

Response

Vending machines should be replenished on a regular basis.  In the future, please contact Dining Services at uaf-dining@alaska.edu to report an empty machine and the office will contact the vendor.

- Fund 1 employee status

Question

What happens to Fund 1 employees if the state does not have a budget figured out in the next month?

Response

As the Legislature continues its work during the special session on the state operating and capital budgets, we are monitoring the process very carefully, including the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance regarding a possible government shutdown.

Given the uncertainty, you may hear or read speculation about layoffs at the university. However, we have made no decision regarding layoffs caused by a shutdown, and such a decision won’t be made until sometime after I consult with the UA Board of Regents June 1 and 2. Budget scenarios are being developed, including one for if the Legislature fails to pass a budget by July 1.

If we do find ourselves without an operating budget in the weeks ahead, we will use our best efforts to maintain critical operations and services to our students and our communities.

I value you and all that you contribute to our university.

Jim Johnsen, UA President

- LIVE program name change

Question

Why did the Live Office name change?

Response

The UAF LIVE program has changed its name to the Student Leadership and Involvement Office. The new name is a better reflection of our mission to cultivate effective leaders for Alaska by creating and supporting a rich variety of student leadership development opportunities, partnering with academic departments and the community, and recognizing successful student leadership.

We still offer the same volunteer experiences, leadership development, and opportunities for student organizations, but with a shorter name!

 –from Heidi Shepard, SLI coordinator

Question

I note that some of the 5 cars (three Mercedes, a Saturn and a Dodge pickup) that have no evidence of a valid parking sticker that have been parked in prime spots in the Ballaine lot since March got a parking ticket on May 23.

It appears that at least one, the Saturn, already had several tickets on it and was not ticketed on the 23rd.

Why are these cars not ticketed DAILY? They’ve been in violation – DAILY – SINCE MARCH!

I pay for my parking permit. Why are these cars allowed to remain when they’ve been violators for an extended period?

Response

Thank you for your feedback. We understand that parking can be frustrating at times, and we work hard to accommodate the many different parking needs on campus.

We’re in the process of looking into the parked cars. The impounding process requires us to contact the owners according to Department of Motor Vehicle records and give the owners a chance to respond. If you have additional questions, please contact parking at 474-5053.

Jane Smith, Office of the Bursar

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