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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Is the obnoxious strobe light on top of the exhaust tower going to be replaced with something a little more subtle, like a red flashing light like all other tall towers in Fairbanks?


The strobe lights are required by FAA regulations for a stack of this height. The strobe lights are controlled by a photo cell and are flashing red at night.

— Mike Ruckhaus, senior project manager, combined heat and power plant project


I have a few questions about what trainings are actually required for me as a student. I received an email from the Chancellor’s Office day saying that I had to do Haven and Alcohol.edu every year. I went to the Dean of Students office website to see if I could get an exemption to the alcohol.edu since I am well over 40 and the training is clearly geared toward first-year students. It says Alcohol.edu is only required for students 25 years old or younger (or students of any age who reside on campus). This does not match the email I received from the Chancellor’s Office, so I am confused. Do I have to redo alcohol.edu or don’t I?

Also, why are nondegree students exempt from all of these trainings? I don’t mean to sound flippant, but are they really less likely to have issues with alcohol or sexual discrimination/harassment/assault? It makes it all seem less sincere when a good percentage of the population is exempt by virtue of the fact that they simply aren’t interested in getting a diploma at the moment.


Thank you for asking about the mandatory trainings at UAF. AlcoholEDU is required of students under the age of 25. The specific Title IX training depends on your age. There are several groups of students that have been identified to take these trainings. There are no exemptions for the trainings unless there are extenuating circumstances. The trainings are required to be completed every year; however, we are looking into a shortened version of the trainings once the initial ones have been done

I have included links below to several documents that should be helpful:

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have concerns about the trainings please contact the Dean of Students office or the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity.

— Laura McCollough, Dean of Students


Is the Veterans Center moving to a new location?

What is UAF doing to support the needs of student veterans?

Why did the Veterans Service office leave campus so abruptly? Will the new office eventually have more staffing? Is there any chance of getting a dedicated advisor for our veteran students?


The UAF Student Veterans Resource Center is still in Room 111 of the Eielson Building, but it has new office hours: Tuesday through Thursday10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During office hours, UAF student services staff can answer questions and provide information about financial aid, admissions and registration, advising, and other campus resources for veterans and military students and dependents.

The Vietnam Veterans of America previously had an employee who also worked out of that office, but that position now works out of the Alaska National Guard recruiting office. The university will continue to meet with staff, faculty and students throughout the fall semester to explore options for increasing services to student veterans in the future. For more information, visit www.uaf.edu/veterans/.

— Ali Knabe, associate vice chancellor for student services

- Scheduling convocation


Please consider student services staff when scheduling convocation. I would have attended this year, but since it was scheduled the day after fees were due, during the busiest time of day (1-2), there was a line of students out our office door and I felt like I couldn’t attend in person or listen in.


Thank you for the feedback. This year was scheduled a little earlier to avoid other conflicts on the calendar, but we’ll consider the academic calendar and fee payment when scheduling this event next year.

— Carla Browning, institutional events and communication manager, University Relations


Is UAF no longer a tobacco-free campus? I have seen so many people walking and smoking recently.


UAF is still a tobacco-free university, as are all University of Alaska campuses per the UA Board of Regents’ policy, but it’s true that people forget or are new to the university and unaware of the regulation, especially at the beginning of the semester, so reminders are sent out periodically.

Learn more about UAF’s tobacco-free policy and how to find help quitting tobacco here.


Are there any requirements for the removal of old research projects from the North Campus trails? There is one old project that has been lying on the side of the Baseline trail for several years now. There is a large electrical cable and a broken metal box. It is a bit of an eyesore, and a potential hazard for a dog or skier.


Departments that conduct research on North Campus are supposed to remove all the equipment from the field at the conclusion of the project, but as you are seeing this doesn’t always happen. Our trails manager will clean up old projects when time allows. This will be forwarded to the trails manager for inspection. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

— Kara Axx, manager, North Campus


Washington State University allows its faculty to retire and remain in the university health insurance pool, paying a nonsubsidized rate. The “buyout” offer is not enough incentive for faculty to retire if they lose their health insurance and must go to the open market.


Thank you for your suggestion. This is a very complicated issue. Part of the answer lies in funding for the health insurance benefits themselves. Washington participates in a statewide health care authority for health benefits, whereas the University of Alaska funds the benefit itself through the employee benefit rate. There is currently no funding mechanism in Alaska to extend health care benefits to non-employees. There is also pending action for Alaska’s own health care authority through last year’s SB74 (Medicaid reform legislation). The reports were issued just last month, and we are still going through them. You can find the reports and links to the webinars covering the reports here: http://doa.alaska.gov/HCA.html. Finally, there is always the question of what the Legislature will choose to do in future sessions.
— Erika Van Flein, director of benefits, UA system Human Resources



Who is allowed to park in the Stevens and Nerland RD parking spots in the lower campus dorm parking lot? Now that these dorms are not occupied it seems that these spots should be open. There are times when there are cars parked in these spots and times when there is not.


Parking Services is working with Residence Life in regards to the signage in that lot. While Nerland and Stevens are currently closed, the Wickersham Hall residence director has been assigned to one of those spots, and we are in the process of adding and removing signs. If you have any questions, please contact Parking Services at 474-5053.

— Amanda Wall, director, Office of the Bursar


I would like to suggest that Signers’ Hall stop popping popcorn! The smell is so overwhelming throughout the building, and the smell reminds me of a carnival or circus.


It’s been a tradition for the offices of the Registrar, Bursar and Admissions to partner on staffing the information kiosk and making popcorn the first two weeks of class.
While we understand that the smell can be strong, popcorn creates a welcoming environment for new and returning students during what can be a stressful time of year. Popcorn is both gluten-free and vegetarian, as we try to be inclusive to all students’ dietary needs (staff and faculty, too). We are open to suggestions for a different option.
— Amy Bristor, assistant director, Admissions


Do we know what the holiday schedule will be for UAF? If there are going to be closures and such it would be great to know now for planning purposes!

Any ideas what the university closures will be over the Christmas holiday?


As a cost-saving measure, each year UAF observes a winter closure period. This academic year’s winter closure will be Dec. 25, 2017, through Jan. 2, 2018. Additional soft closure days may be observed Dec. 20-22, 2017, and Jan. 3-5, 2018.

Department supervisors and unit leaders determine who is required to work to maintain UAF operations during soft closure periods. Additionally, as Jan. 3 is the first day of Wintermester, offices that provide direct services to students should be reasonably staffed on that day and should consult with Summer Sessions before planning closures.

Four days of the winter closure period are paid holidays: Dec. 25, Dec. 26, Jan. 1 and Jan. 2. Three days of the winter closure period are not paid holidays and are days for which employees will need take annual leave, leave without pay, faculty time off or a furlough day: Dec. 27, Dec. 28 and Dec. 29. Likewise, employees who choose to participate in the soft closure will need to take annual leave, leave without pay, faculty time off or a furlough day.

Once the business hours for a department have been determined and announced by the supervisor, employees should coordinate with their supervisor regarding leave options and schedules. Employees should be aware that retirement eligibility (PERS and TRS) may be affected if leave without pay exceeds 10 days in a calendar year.

If you have additional questions, please contact Human Resources at 474-7700. Please distribute this information as appropriate.

— Brad Lobland, director, Human Resources

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