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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Question

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.

Response

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

 

Question

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.

Response

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

Question

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.

Response

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

Question

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?

Response

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

Question

My tracking numbers for packages indicate that my packages have left Anchorage over a week ago, yet they’re still not delivered to me. This is extremely frustrating as I am waiting on textbooks for my classes. They should have arrived over a week ago.

I heard on good authority that packages are backed up to August 30th (today is September 6th) and that they can’t put package slips into mailboxes due to all the lockers being full, and that there isn’t enough shelf space for the packages, so basically they’re just all piled up in the back somewhere.

I’m sure there are other students in the same predicament. Also, the kiosk for mailing packages always seems to be broken. There has to be a more efficient way to run the campus post office.

Response

The Fairbanks campus mail center processed around 900 packages both for students and departments Sept. 5-8, which was a lot for our small department, but we apologize for the delay. Everything is caught up now. To help expedite delivery, all mail should have the person’s or department’s name and the correct post office box number. Departments should also have their PO box number on the website and not just the street address.
The kiosk continues to have some problems, but mail center staff is available to help Monday to Friday, noon to 3 p.m. A technician is coming to work on the kiosk again.
— Deanna Lazarus, manager, campus mail center

- Suggestion on issue frequency

Question

Since the Cornerstone went from a weekly issue to a daily issue, I actually end up reading it far less frequently. With informal discussions with folks around the office, that is also the case with them.

I really don’t mind skimming the titles of individual posts within an issue to skip over items that don’t interest me, but only once a week.

Perhaps you could consider going back to a weekly issue with infrequent daily updates for items that come up from time to time that won’t fit a weekly calendar?

 

Response

We recently moved to a daily newsletter based on feedback from a pilot test group and campus survey. The daily format provideS employees more timely information than is possible with a weekly issue and gives more flexibility for submissions. The daily format also allows for a handful of items to be seen at a glance or two, rather than a longer scroll required by the weekly format. We’ll be assessing the frequency of the newsletter, including possibly adjusting the frequency or offering a weekly digest format. Please watch for those surveys in the coming months.  

— Tori Tragis, internal communications manager, University Relations

Question

Why does Grapevine require a title to submit a suggestion but not provide a title field to fill in? Basically it doesn’t work. I’ve tried multiple types of browsers too.

Response

Thank you for letting us know the form wasn’t working properly. It’s fixed now.

— Tori Tragis, internal communications manager, University Relations

Question

Thank you for the beautiful crack-free steps on the west side of the library. I am hoping there will also be handrails installed. These can help the handicapped to ascend with less fear of slipping on the ice. Thanks!

Response

These handrails are currently being fabricated in our sheet metal shop and will be installed soon.

— Karrah Hearns, customer service manager, Facilities Services

- Late-start rec classes

Question

Why are all of the rec classes starting a week later than the regular classes?

Response

We are trying a new strategy this year. In an effort to prevent prematurely cancelling recreation classes due to low enrollment, we are giving students time to get in the swing of things and round out their schedules with recreation classes.

— Martha Westphal, program manager, academic/general and recreation programs, Community and Technical College

Question

If a student is removed from a class to protect her safety due to continued sexual harassment by the class instructor is the University required to make accommodations so the student can complete her course work?

Response

The university will take immediate steps to remedy safety concerns. The student would then be provided with options for completing the class to continue their education. These adjustments may consist of additional time to complete work, taking the class in a different semester, ability to transfer class section or other academic assistance specific to the circumstance. If you have specific concerns or needs, please contact the Title IX coordinator, Margo Griffith, at 907-474-7300 or uaf-TIX@alaska.edu. Also, to speak with a confidential resource, the Resource and Advocacy Center offers guidance at 130 Wood Center, or 24 hours at 907-474-6360.

— Margo Griffith, Title IX coordinator, and director, Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity

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