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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- Power plant smokestack

Question

The smokestack on the new power plant should be painted with UAF colors, logos and/or say UAF….also, unless we are huge fans of irony, I do not recommend including Naturally Inspiring.

Response

Thank you for your suggestion. The stack now has its permanent color, but it could be branded with words or a logo in the future. Any markings placed on the stack will need to be carefully reviewed by and coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration because the stack rises more than 200 feet above the ground level. 

— Michelle Renfrew, director of University Relations

Question

Why are we hiring upper administration in a time of deep budget cuts that include letting cutting programs and letting faculty go?  It would be great if we faculty could know what exactly all these VPs do.  Maybe they could develop annual workloads and then be evaluated annually on whether or not they perform well on three distinct, although related, areas of performance! Maybe we could understand better why they are paid at higher rates than faculty even though they rely on faculty to do a whole variety of work tasks that then get kicked up to upper administration to crow about?  Hey, maybe there could be some sort of process by which those people hired into VPs (and upper administration) could explain their jobs to all the rest of us who function on a day to day basis to work with the UAF student population in the most fundamental of ways so that over time we could know how our upper administration serves as a resource for us.

Response

Thank you for your questions. The vice chancellor for student affairs position manages many very important functions for the university, including the offices of Admissions and the Registrar, Financial Aid, International Programs and Initiatives, Residence Life, Dean of Students, and Disability Services; Wood Center; and the Student Recreation Center and Department of Recreation, Adventure, and Wellness. These areas have direct impact on UAF’s ability to recruit and retain students. (A description of the the duties and responsibilities of the vice chancellor for student affairs was advertised here.)

Similar to the situation for faculty positions, administrator salaries are set with reference to national averages for similar institutions. For administrators, the target salary is 0.9 times the peer institution median. Vice chancellor positions are at-will, and the incumbents receive only 90 days’ notice in the case of nonretention.

Administrators who supervise faculty are subject to a regular, Faculty Senate-supervised process of review. Also, all administrators are evaluated annually by their supervisor.

There is one fewer vice chancellor-level position now than there was in 2011, when there was both a vice chancellor for students and a vice chancellor for advancement. At that time, there was also a separate chancellor’s executive officer position, which has since been combined with the vice chancellor for administrative services position.

— Daniel M. White, chancellor

Question

I am a student at the Community and Technical College and my spouse is a student through the Interior Alaska Campus. It seems like there are different rules and deadlines for our classes, but I thought they were all part of the rural college. How does this work?

Response

IAC follows the general UAF deadline for all statewide cross-regional course offerings. When it differs is when we offer “local” or late-start courses. These courses are offered throughout the semester and are usually considered intensives. These courses follow the deadlines for payment and registration set by the Bursar’s Office and the Office of Admissions and the Registrar, where it is required on or before the first day of class. For these courses that might mean if it starts on Oct. 1, a student has until that date to pay or be registered without penalty.

— Bryan Uher, interim director, Interior Alaska Campus

Question

How do you remove and/or change the picture posted on your UAF UA online account in the campus post office section? Specifically, how do you change/remove the picture when you log on to the “Campus Housing, Dining and Post Office” link of UA online and click “Personal Information”?

Response

The image used in your UAOnline “Campus Housing, Dining and Post Office” page (found under “Student Services and Account Information” when you log on) is linked to the PolardExpress card system. To get a new photo you will need to get a new card. If you do not currently have a PolarExpress card with two mag stripes on the back, your card is more than four years old and there is no charge for a new card. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact the Bursar’s Office at uaf-bursar@alaska.edu or 907-474-7384. 

— Amanda Wall, bursar

- 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.

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