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 #1
Why are so many cars allowed to park long-term in the Ballaine parking lot? Today there are 15 cars that have been parked in the most desirable parking spaces as least since Friday or Saturday (you can tell by all the snow on them). This doesn’t seem right. Also, when they finally leave, the vacated parking spots haven’t been plowed. This is very frustrating. Is there anything Parking Services can do to discourage this?

Question #2
Why have all the snow covered cars that were in the Taku Parking Lot all winter now been moved into the first row of the Ballaine Parking Lot? If they were moved when the lot was plowed, why were they not towed to an impound lot for being parked illegally? Does UAF have regulations that cars shouldn’t just be left in lots for months at a time? It’s easy to tell in the winter when this is happening.


The cars were towed from the Taku to Ballaine for snow removal last week. The students have paid for parking and therefore are allowed to park on campus long term; however, they will be charged for the tow. The cars are expected to remain there until the students move them on their own.

— Darrin “Bear” Edson, Facilities Services

- Tuition waiver’s future


Will UAF be getting rid of the employee tuition waiver?


There is no discussion about the employee tuition waiver at this time. I support having an employee tuition waiver.

— Dana Thomas, UAF chancellor


UAF is a non-smoking campus, but this morning I saw construction crew members smoking by the dumpsters behind the new Duckering building. Please discuss campus non-smoking policies with their foremen.


Under University Regulation R05.12.102, contractors may use tobacco “within a fenced construction project in which the contractor has complete care, custody, and control of the job site, if the relevant contract explicitly authorizes the contractor to allow smoking within the site.”

The contract for the engineering building work contains the following clause:

“SC-09  Use of Tobacco Products: (General Conditions, Clause 14-Permits, Regulations, and Surveys) Use of tobacco products is prohibited in all buildings, grounds, trails, parking garages, parking lots, university-owned streets and sidewalks, and spaces leased or owned by the university with the following exceptions:

  1. Use of tobacco products is allowed within a fenced construction project site in which the Contractor has complete custody, except for areas within 50 feet of university building entrances and air vents.”

The designated smoking location for contractor employees on the engineering building project is behind the dumpster in the staging area located adjacent to the stairs from Alumni Drive.  While there is no fence around this staging area, it is designated as the construction project site and is 50 feet from any entrance or air vent.

Read the full university regulations here or visit the UAF Tobacco-Free campus page here for additional information and resources.

— Carla Browning, communications and institutional events manager, UAF University Relations




Why isn’t the Books and Brew coffee area adequately stocked? They are out of milk constantly. Earlier last week, there was no milk up there at 9 a.m., and by the end of the day there still wasn’t any milk. Today, there was no milk and no tea. If these were the only two instances, I could forgive it, but this is a chronic problem up there. If you are going to go to the trouble to have coffee areas outside the Wood Center facility, make certain there are sufficient supplies so the poor workers don’t have to apologize all day for not being able to do their jobs.


Books and Brew has had some equipment malfunction and break down over the past couple of weeks, which is why they haven’t been able to stock milk overnight. We have been working with Facilities Services to get the equipment up and running so those issues won’t happen for the future. Chartwells’ leadership will be contacted about the tea and any other items.

— Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, contracts manager, UAF Dining Services and Contract Operations


I saw on the Summer Sessions page today that UAF is offering any student who comes up for the summer a free round-trip airline ticket from Seattle. It’s a great idea…but where is the money coming from?


Good question. Alaska Dreaming was designed to attract Lower 48 students who would otherwise not attend Summer Sessions at UAF.  Each student coming is required to enroll and complete a minimum of six credits. The income from those six credits is a minimum of $1,152 ($192 X 6) with lower division credit. A round-trip airline ticket from Seattle is less than $400. That is a net gain of $752 to Summer Sessions. These students also provide UAF with additional income for fees and dorm utilization. It is also a way to market UAF to the Lower 48 in hopes that these students may decide to stay into the academic year.  Alaska — try it, you will love it.

— Michelle Bartlett, director, UAF Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning


The lights for the Nenana parking lot were out Feb. 2, but the lights in the bus hut were still working. On Feb. 3, I noticed the lights for the Patty parking lot were also out. This morning [Feb. 6], the lights for both Nenana and Patty parking lots and the bus hut were out. This is a potentially dangerous situation with vehicles pulling in and out with pedestrians in the lot. The conditions in the lot leaves open the potential for assaults. When will this be fixed?


We are investigating the reason behind the loss of power to this location of the campus and we’re focused on making the repair ASAP.

— Darrin “Bear” Edson, UAF superintendent of operations


Are the Board of Regents or the UA President’s Office being reviewed by Strategic Pathways? I might have missed this on the Strategic Pathways website, but it doesn’t appear the President’s Office or the Board of Regents are under any of the same examination or review as other units during the Strategic Pathways process.
It is often repeated in our society that one hallmark of a good leader is the leader’s willingness to do the same as they ask of others. In other words, a good leader won’t ask someone to do something the leader would be unwilling to do themselves. If they are being reviewed, where can I find this information? If the president and Board of Regents are not being reviewed under Strategic Pathways, may I respectfully request a review team be formed and these two units be included for phase 3?


In the spring of 2015, President Pat Gamble charged me with assembling a team to review statewide programs and services to examine the essential role for UA administration. President Jim Johnsen endorsed the plan when he came on board and a group, led by me as chief strategy and budget officer, reviewed all key functions handled at the University of Alaska systemwide offices.

The Board of Regents, appointed by the governor as the policy-making body for the university, was not included in the review.

In April of last year, Johnsen announced more than 113 recommendations, including reductions in functions and positions as well as changes in locations and duties for some staff. Statewide will continue to provide critical policy direction, shared services, lead collaboration efforts and aid in increasing efficiency across the university system.

Many of the recommendations have been implemented or are in progress. Reductions and eliminations at statewide have been significant, with 31 percent fewer people working to provide the same level of service and support required by law and providing necessary services to students and employees across the system. Staffing reductions and review of services in statewide and the President’s Office continues with information technology, human resources, student services, institutional research, university relations, land management and facilities under the Strategic Pathways process.

By the time we’ve completed the Strategic Pathways process, every major program and functional area of the university will have undergone intensive review and reorganization.

For more information on the Transformation Team recommendations and process, click here.

— Michelle Rizk, vice president, university relations, UA system


I have a post office box on campus and have had it since 2001. After introduction of package lockers, the trash bin filled up with the yellow half-sheets dispersed with codes to open the lockers.

I put out a box to collect the papers, and I give them to the Bunnell House Lab School for the children to use for art projects, but the paper waste is truly astronomical. In one day alone, I gathered a 2-inch stack. I think a full half-sheet of paper with a six-digit code on it is a little unreasonable.

With a Sustainability Office on campus, it seems to me that UAF favors sustainable ways to do things. In the digital age of “there’s an app for that,” why can’t post office users receive a text or an email with the package code on it? Think of the amount of paper that would be saved, and (wo)man power putting it into people’s boxes.

Also, that machine for purchasing postage is horrible, always broken, and not at all user-friendly. Bring back Pat!!!

Looking forward to your response.


We are working with the box tracking and package lockers vendors to implement text notification of package availability. That project is moving a little slower than we had hoped, but we expect to begin beta testing within a few weeks and hope to have it available by mid-March or early April.  Look for an announcement from the UAF Post Office when this becomes available.
We are also working with the vendor for the postal kiosk to improve service and we’re exploring other kiosk options.
— Martin Klein, UAF Auxiliary and Contract Services business manager

- Checking Bear Bucks balances


With the latest version of the Tapingo app, it looks like I’ve lost the ability to see my Bear Bucks balance on my phone.  What is the best way to check my balance?


The best way to check your Bear Bucks (and Munch Money) balance is to visit www.uaf.edu/dining and click on the red button that says “Click Here To Check Your Balance.”  There, you can log in with your UA username and password to see your balance.
You also can download the eAccounts app, search for “University of Alaska,” select “UAF” and enter your credentials there to obtain the same information.
Should you have any questions or need additional information, you can contact either UAF Dining Services or the Office of the Bursar.
— Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, UAF contracts manager

- Veterans office at UAF


I would like to know who oversees the VA office on campus. Do they work for VA or UAF? I feel like the office is not very professional.  It is dirty and constantly has people hanging out in there and I am not comfortable coming in asking questions that everyone will hear.  I am very much concerned about confidentiality. Please let me know who I need to address this with.


Thank you for bringing this to my attention. The office is a partnership between the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and UAF to better serve our veterans and their dependents.  We’re aware that this is not the ideal space for our students to bring confidential concerns. Feel free to contact me with any additional concerns.

— Ali Knabe, associate vice chancellor for student services

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