Your representatives need your feedback. Help us help you. Give us your input, concerns, issues, suggestions or comments so that we can more effectively represent you on Staff Council and to the administration.

Feedback, comments or suggestions can be posted on this blog anonymously by selecting comment at the bottom of the article that caught your attention.

***The blog cannot be read using Internet Explorer. Please use another browser, such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. If you experience further issues, contact us at

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

President Gamble Calls for More Discussion

As chair of Staff Alliance I meet regularly with President Gamble and last Friday, November 30 our discussion centered around concerns regarding the impact of no longer allowing employees to opt out of the health care benefit in FY14. I am pleased to announce that because of the concerns we’ve raised, President Gamble intends to call for more discussion and numbers on the issue. He indicated that yes, Donald Smith will begin reviewing how to make this change to the health plan but that the decision is NOT FINAL YET.

Thank you for your input! Please continue to make comments here or email your governance leaders directly on the proposed changes to our health care plan mentioned in previous posts.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Health Care Plan Changes Approved

On Monday, November 26 statewide administration informed JHCC leadership of their intent to go forward with JHCC's nine motions and changes to our FY14 health care benefit. Click here to read the memorandum.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Opt Out Information

 The explanation from Donald Smith, CHRO and Erika Van Flein, Director of Benefits for ending the Opt Out option is that it will increase the size of the employee pool, which will theoretically decrease the health care costs for all employees. Employees currently cover 17% of the total health care costs of university employees. Ending the Opt-Out option will spread that 17% over a greater number of people. A counterpoint to this position is that it is also possible that some of those opt outs brought back into the pool will bring high health care costs increasing total health care costs.
Currently there are 473 (of a total of ~4,500) employees who will be impacted by taking away the Opt Out option. Some hard to define costs associated with this decision are: the number of employees who will leave the university as a result, the costs of replacing those employees, the possible additional costs to the plan, and more importantly the impact of another reduction in benefits or increase in cost of benefits to the morale of our employees. The potential benefit is decreasing the overall cost each employee pays.
What are your thoughts on the administration’s explanation and position on this?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

JHCC Recommended Changes to Health Care Benefit

From the UA Staff Alliance blog at :

**Please note the JHCC memorandum has been updated from the original post.

On October 16 and 17 the Joint Health Care Committee met to review the suggestions coming out of the Health Care Task Force.  At that meeting they passed eight motions recommending changes to our health care benefit to the statewide administration.  They forwarded these motions to the administration on November 1. Please read JHCC Oct Motions for details.

Two changes were recommended that have received mixed responses from staff. They are a spousal surcharge and taking away the Opt Out choice. Please note that the staff representatives on the JHCC voted against taking away the Opt Out. The Staff Health Care Committee will meet on November 27 to discuss these changes. We’d like to hear from you before we take a position with the administration on the changes. Please leave your comments here and/or email Donald Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer at or Juella Sparks, chair of Staff Alliance at .

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

FY14 Staff Compensation Increase Update - Memo from President Gamble and Request for Staff Feedback

To All Non-Represented Staff,

On November 1 Staff Alliance members received a memorandum from UA President Pat Gamble regarding the staff compensation increase for the FY14 budget. He has included a 3.25% compensation increase in the operating budget being brought before the Board of Regents Wednesday Nov. 7 for their approval.

Please go the Staff Alliance blog at: to read President Gamble's explanation and to tell us what you think of this compensation increase. To submit your feedback, click on the words ‘Leave a Comment’ located on the grey bar immediately below the message.  We will report back on how the Regents vote.

Alliance has also started a conversation on with President Gamble on other ways to meaningfully compensate and reward staff. Please use the blog to provide us with your thoughts and ideas.  You can post your feedback on the blog using the blue 'Leave a Comment' link located below the message.   

UA Staff Alliance

Friday, October 12, 2012

UA Health Care Task Force Recommendations - IMMEDIATE STAFF FEEDBACK NEEDED!

This summer a special Health Care Task Force composed of staff representatives from across the UA system met to research and propose possible solutions to offset increasing health care costs. They were charged with thinking of out-of-the-box solutions for cost containment. Their proposals were recently summarized and shared with the Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC). The JHCC will be meeting in Anchorage next week to discuss these recommendations. You may review the document here:

The current staff members on the Joint Health Care Committee are Melodee Monson from UAA ( and Gwenna Richardson from UAS ( If you want to provide them with feedback before the JHCC meeting in Anchorage next week I strongly encourage you to do so.

Please keep in mind that these are suggestions alone and do not represent any final decisions regarding our health plan or benefits. This is your opportunity to use the governance system to make your opinion heard. I strongly encourage all of you to review this document and weigh in on the discussion. 

For more information on the JHCC or SHCC there was an excellent article in the August Statewide Voice ( that I encourage you to read.

Thank you! Here's to your health!

Staff Council

Friday, August 3, 2012

Staff Health Care Committee: August 2012 Highlights (A MUST READ)

FY14 Health Care Design Plan Considerations

1. Remove the ability to waive coverage (opt out). This would bring about 500 employees back on the plan and recover anywhere between $217,000 - $600,000 in health care charges paid by employees, depending on their plan and dependent enrollment.
2. Drop the 500 Plan. There are currently less than 5% of UA employees utilizing the plan.
3. Establish a tier system for families, so families with more children (probably up to 3) would pay more. This would also apply to the employee + child(ren) rate, which currently is the same regardless of how many children are enrolled.
4. Develop a new High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), while maintaining the existing one, that will qualify for a Health Savings Account (HSA). Items to consider:
  1. Any individual that is covered under another medical plan (Military, Alaska Native, etc.) is not eligible to participate in the HSA.
  2. If spouse participates in Flexible Spending Account (FSA), the HSA is not available through UA.
  3. HDHP with HSA in which the plan covers more than the employee, the plan automatically moves to the family deductible.
  4. The funds roll over from year to year.
  5. When employment ends the employee keeps the account.
  6. Monies are only available as they are deposited into the HSA
  7. Employee is solely responsible for ensuring federal guidelines are met.

For more information visit the following links:

Statewide Voice
Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC)

Staff Health Care Committee (SHCC) meetings are open to all UA staff. The next meeting of SHCC will be held August 28, 2012 at 9:00 am. You may call in at 800-893-8850 and the pin is 4236369. When calling in please put your phone on mute.

You may also provide your feedback, concerns, questions or comments to any SHCC member via email. See committee members and email addresses below.

Staff Health Care Committee Members:
Melodee Monson (UAA) –
Constance Dennis (UAA) –
Carolyn Simmons (UAF) –
Catherine Williams (UAF) –
Mary Sue Dates (UAF) –
Maria Russell (UAF) –
Gwenna Richardson (UAS) –
Elizabeth Williams (UAS) –
Mae Delcastillo (UAS) –
Ivan Leibbrandt (Statewide Administration Assembly - SAA) –
Heather Arana (Statewide Administration Assembly - SAA) –
Monique Musick (Statewide Administration Assembly - SAA) –

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Staff Council - June 2012 Highlights

  • Staff Council elected a new President and Vice President for the upcoming year. Congratulations to Juella Sparks, President and Claudia Koch, Vice President. 
  • Staff Alliance put forth a request to the President to use 5.5% place holder in the FY14 Budget request for staff compensation. Staff Alliance will have their annual retreat in August at which time there will be an election of officers for the upcoming year. 
  • Health Care Task Force has now been established with 11 members. The task force will be encouraged to create a website to keep staff informed of the process. 
  • Chancellor Rogers: 1. New Engineering Building will connect College of Engineering and Mines to the Bunnell Building. 2. First time the legislature has allocated monies for research. 3. Fundinbg for the heat and power plant will be requested in the FY14 budget. 4. A public/private partnership has been established to expand the Wood Center dining and to replace the Lola Tilly Commons. 5. Possible 2% tuition increase. 
  • Jennifer Reynolds, Faculty Senate President - There is an effort to institute an electronic faculty reporting system. The system can be used to report: a. University performance b. Unit performance c. Outreach activities, detailed review and d. Who taught a specific course. Two software programs were reviewed by faculty and the program that will be viewed more in depth is Faculty 180 from Data 180.  This program is only being reviewed by UAF at this time and a selected few faculty members will participate in a pilot program using the software. If the program works as hoped it will go into effect for UAF and possibly all MAU's. Implementation is a concern; however, UAF faculty has a good relationship with the Provost Office and Dana Thomas and believes this program will be beneficial to the administration and faculty. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Staff Council - April 2012 Highlights

Staff Health Care Committee discussed how effective a Patient Care addition may be to the current compensation package, where it would be, and who would pay for it.  Clinics on campus are being re-looked at and Chancellor Rogers believes it can be done.  There is currently no tobacco policy in place.  Chancellor Rogers wants the tobacco surcharge on new hires beginning July 1, 2012.  Committee members were tasked to reach out to individuals who use tobacco products to gather suggestions/incentives/comments on how to encourage users to quit.

President Gamble agreed to establish a Healthcare Task Force.  This would be a one-time task force.  The task force will not replace the Joint Health Care Committee or the Staff Health Care Committee, it will look outside the box, consider options, review and research plans.  The goal of the committee is to have proposals in by the end of August for proposed changes to take place and decided upon in December 2012.  The committee will have equal number of staff, faculty and administration.

Chancellor Rogers commented on how the current legislative session went great and the University came out ahead.  Their focus will be on some long standing issues such as the sewer lines and moving some parking lots.  Funds have been provided for advising, new programs, honors programs, 50% of staff raises, repairs to the engineering building, etc.  The voices heard the loudest were those not directly associated with the University.  He visited the Northwest campus and Chukchi campus in support of those partnerships.  He mentioned that it is important to attend any of the Staff Appreciation events this year and if a supervisor tell you no, you need to refer that issue to his office.

To-date there have been 160 signatures collected on the Health Care petition created by the Staff Affairs committee.  The signed copies of the petition have been submitted to UAF Staff Council President, Pips Veazey, to forward to Staff Alliance and Chancellor Rogers.  Signatures are still being collected.  There have been staff who have voiced a concern about signing the petition because of repercussions they may face from the administration.  For those who are concerned about repercussions they have been encouraged to visit the blogsite and place a comment anonymously.

A survey was conducted regarding the Code of Conduct sent out by President Gamble to all staff.  To-date there have been over 640 comments/responses submitted.  As of today the code of conduct has been unofficially withdrawn with a comment that President Gamble will work with governance in creating Institutional Values.

Chancellors Cornerstone Award – there were 91 nominations.  The committee reviewed all nominations and submitted four staff members to Chancellor Rogers for a decisions, along with recommendations for increasing the award prizes.  Committee felt the award for the Chancellors Cornerstone was deficit in comparison to other awards.

A system governance retreat will be held in June 2012 those in attendance will include President Gamble, Donald Smith, etc.

There are no changes to the University’s tuition waiver at this time, Standard Academic Progress (SAP) is the holdup.  Staff Affairs is beginning to work on a document that will be geared toward staff.

Thank you to all those who provided their notes to be included in this blogsite.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Health Care Petition - Comments

We, as the employees of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, want to express our concern that staff are not feeling valued. Health care costs are increasing at an alarming rate, longevity and loyalty do not appear to be rewarded by the administration, and current compensation packages make it challenging to sustain a family.

The healthcare increases implemented for FY 13 will be detrimental to the University’s efforts to recruit and retain staff. We request that the University system seek to mitigate these costs for FY 14 to prevent a competitive disadvantage among peer institutions and other state agencies. We furthermore ask to see additional choices developed to preserve our current PPO options, and incorporate Health Savings Accounts, Supplemental Insurance options, HMO options, and innovative solutions to broaden choice and potentially reduce costs.

To sign this petition either see your UAF Staff Council representative or see Mary Sue Dates at 110 Eielson Bldg.  For rural sites please email your comments to

Staff Council - March 27 Highlights

Michelle Bartlett – Summer Sessionsa. In-state tuition for everyone
b. Students who take at least 6 credits can receive assistance in finding a job
c. 14 credits for the cost of 10 credits – grades must be a C or better
d. 28% discount on dorms
e. Tuition awards of 3 credits – grades must be a C or better

Mae Marsh – New EEO Director
a. Advocate for the process
b. Ensure UAF is in state and federal compliance
c. Goal is early resolution
d. Staff Council mentioned that UAF has no defined grievance process, only as mentioned in the Board of Regents regulations and policies.

Health Care
a. The cost was an administration decision and not the Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC). Melanie Arthur (JHCC representative) explained that the proposals by JHCC were pushed aside for the administration choice. In December 2011 the JHCC passed an action item to explore clinic access for UAF. Donald Smith, Executive Director – Labor & Employee Relations, UA Statewide, was contacted in March for an update. At the time of contact there had been no action taken.
b. Vendor contracts (Blue Cross, Premera, Caremark, VSP, etc.) are up for review and renewal. Once signed they are 5 year contracts.
c. Council requested the Staff Alliance (staff governance for all of the University of Alaska) form a task force to investigate a wide range of issues from how benefits and premiums are projected and calculated, if the various health care services are being effectively used [WIN for Alaska, disease management, Best Doctors, etc.]), making the policy makers aware that the current health care model and direction is broken, options for systemic changes that can bring health care coverage back in line.
d. President Gamble sent a letter to the legislature regarding a “cost avoidance of 7 million dollars” for the university. This “cost avoidance” moved 7 million dollars from the university shoulders to staff.
e. In July staff can expect a pay deduction due to the rising cost of health care.
f. There is talk about the 500 and 750 plan going away and being replaced with the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a possible Health Savings Account (HAS). To date there are 197 staff on the 500 plan, 2517 staff on the 750 plan and 1377 staff on the HDHP. The maximum allowed in the flexible spending account has decreased to $2500, federal guidelines.
g. It was recognized that nothing can be done to change the implementation of health care premiums this year. It was widely expressed that we are on a continuing unsustainable path.

Tobacco Policy
a. The proposed “tobacco-free hiring policy” has evolved from the previous “tobacco surcharge.” After speaking with UA Statewide Human Resources, the tobacco-free hiring has not been instituted, however if President Gamble approves of this policy it will go into effect in UAKJobs beginning July 2012. Staff governance has not been provided with any information regarding this policy.
b. It does not seem like President Gamble is giving up on this even as we doubt the large amount of touted health care savings ($21 million over 5 – 10 years).

General Notes
a. Staff Council, at the prompting of Chancellor Rogers, is looking at reorganizing to a smaller group to be elected at large (instead of by unit) with the hope that they can achieve greater attendance (move from 37 unit to 17 at-large). There is the sense that some unit representatives don’t communicate well or at all with their constituents, so this proposal is intended to broaden the communication.
b. Tuition Waiver – Staff council rejected the changes to the tuition waiver based on insufficient time for review. The changes were received on March 23rd by the Staff Alliance. Staff Council did not receive these changes until March 27th. One of the changes states: “Employees and dependents receiving education benefits must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to qualify for educations benefits.

Thank you to other representatives for your notes and comments from the staff council meeting.  Providing those items allows this blog to be as inclusive of topics and conversations as possible.

Staff Affairs - April 2 Meeting

Health Care:
It was agreed there is need to be more options.  The committee discussed the option of Higher Dedcutible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA).  To have the health savings account the pharmacy  plan would need to be re-worked.  It is not clear to us, as we have not had the time to do much research, this would be a great option of UAF staff.  The health savings account allows you to make withdrawals outside of medical expenses and the amount in the HSA rolls over every year; neither of these are an option with the flexible spending account.

The committee agreed to create a petition for staff to sign expressing our concerns about health care and how staff feels devalued in the lack of fight for them by the administration.  It is agreed the petition would not be electronic as it is important to get actual signatures.  The petition will also provide represented staff and faculty to sign showing support of the unrepresented staff.  Once the petition has been approved by the UAF Staff Council President, it will be sent out to all staff council representatives to staff signatures.

As signatures are gathered completed pages will be provided to the UAF Staff Council President and Vice President with a request to provide copies of the signed petition to the Joint Health Care Committee, President Gamble, Chancellor Rogers, the Board of Regents, etc.

Tuition Waiver:
Discussion about the possible changes to the tuition waiver recognize the increase in benefits with the increase in possible credit hours taken each semester and each academic year.  However, concerns were voiced about capping credit hours and that the waiver would fall under the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for students.  The committee agreed to revew the proposed changes and SAP, then come back to the next meeting (April 16) to discuss a written outline such as SAP.  The outline would be reflective of staff using the tuition waiver.

Tobacco Policy:
The committee is in favor of a Tobacco Free Campus and not a Tobacco Free Hiring Policy.  It was stated UAKJobs has already instituted the Tobacco Free Hiring with a question asking if the applicant or any depedent living in the household uses tobacco.  Before going further in action to draw up a motion, it was decided a member of the committee would contact UAF Human Resources to verify the UAKJobs information.  See Staff Council Notes regarding this issue.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

UAF Staff Council - February 2012 Meeting Highlights

* UA Policy and Regulations are up for review – the policy about staff governance is being heavily reviewed.
* There is movement in the unionizing effort. View the website (click here)
* Working to ensure the grievance procedures are more transparent
* Rural Affairs Committee has submitted a motion relating to geographic differential at UAF. It passed unanimously and will be forwarded to Staff Alliance.

Staff Alliance is currently working on the Tobacco Free Hiring proposal and the Tuition Benefit Change. There will be major details coming in March. The general consensus is that UA is moving towards a tobacco free campus.

Staff Appreciation Day - May 2012

* The committee is currently looking for ideas on afternoon sessions.
* There are budget issues because this year there are 141 longevity awards
* For those campuses outside of Fairbanks, the committee has provided funding for staff appreciation events in those communities
* To reduce costs E-live instead of Web Streaming will be used this year
* Assistant Vice Chancellor for Administration Services is sponsoring the breakfast.

Chancellor Roger's Comments: February 2012

* Staff Appreciation and Professional Development
* These programs have developed tremendously and have provided many opportunities for employees.
* Supervisor Training
      What can be approved upon?
      Providing a general survey to new employees
      Reviewing on how to make this available to any staff interested in a supervisor position
* Communication is ever improving with UAF Staff Council taking a proactive role
* How do we, as a campus, become more safety minded? UAF is looking to do more than just meet the OSHA standards. Anyone who has ideas or concerns about safety or how to help UAF become safety minded contact Dan White as he is the chair of the ADHOC Safety Committee.
* Cost effectiveness – worker claims
* Educational – desire to have students leave UAF with safety as an automatic awareness. Example: On the North Slope, safety is the main concern and that is why they are able to have long periods of no loss time.
* Safety of employees

Dana Thomas - Accreditation Information

UAF received three recommendations by the accreditation committee.
• Better connect budget to university themes
• Better connect planning to university themes
• Assess university procedures

The UAF Accreditation Committee is looking to revise UAF’s Mission Statement. The current statement says who we are and a mission statement should say what we do and why we do it. Any mission statement has to be approved by the Board of Regents. If the mission statement is revised the current mission statement will be moved to the preamble. Any suggestions of changes can be sent to Dana Thomas and must be received by March 3, 2012.

There is also a need to possibly reduce or combine indicators by which UAF must collect data and report the to the accreditation committee. If you would like a complete list of Core Themes, Objectives, and Indicators as they were presented to UAF Staff Council contact Mary Sue Dates at 474-7566 or Any suggestions of changes can be sent to Dana Thomas and must be received by April 13, 2012.

Current UAF Mission Statement: The University of Alaska Fairbanks, the nation’s northernmost Land, Sean and Space Grant university and international research center, advances and disseminates knowledge through teaching, research and public service with an emphasis on Alaska, the circumpolar North and their diverse peoples. UAF – America’s arctic university – promotes academic excellence, student success and lifelong learning.

Draft New UAF Mission Statement:The University of Alaska Fairbanks integrates teaching, research, and engagement, emphasizing the circumpolar north and its diverse peoples, as it educates students for careers, leading roles in their communities, and lifelong learning.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks integrates teaching, research, and engagement, emphasizing the circumpolar north and its diverse peoples, as it educates students, preparing them for life, careers, and leading roles in their communities.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Staff Council: January 2012 Highlights

1. Ann Ringstad, Dir. Community Advocacy, UA System, reported on the Juneau Legislative session: the House of Reps is reviewing the budget that the governor approved on Dec 15th. Some University requests were removed by the governor, such as deferred maintenance and the power plant funding, but the Chancellor is hoping the House and Senate will put them back in. The pay raise for staff was still included.

2. The Staff Council motion to NOT alter the Tuition Waiver benefit was forwarded to system governance who will pass on to President Gamble.

3. The Strategic Direction team is conducting separate listening sessions for internal stakeholder groups at UAF on Feb 14th. Times/locations TBA. There will be 3 sessions, one each for staff, faculty and students. If you are both a staff and student, please try to attend them both. Come prepared to ask hard questions and make comments.

4. On Feb 10th, Staff Council is hosting an Open Forum/Q & A with the Chancellor from 12:30 to 2pm in the Wood Center.

5. On Feb 6th from 3:30 to 5pm, there will be a Faculty Seminar with Dr. Claudia Lampman, at UAF - Wood Center Carol Brown Ballroom. Dr. Lampman, Professor of Psychology at UAA, will lead a faculty seminar on student bullying, incivility and aggression. The seminar is jointly sponsored by UNAC, UAFT, and UAF Faculty Senate. For additional information please contact, Jayne Harvie, at Staff have been encouraged to participate.

6. The Chancellor is kicking off an Employee of the Month award soon--in Feb or March. More details to come. Bernie Karl has offered the prizes for the next 12 months: a night at Chena Hot Springs and tour of Geothermal project.

7. Chancellor Rogers discussed several upcoming construction and renovation projects including dedicated space for the Honor's program, a new dining facility, additional on-campus housing, work on West Ridge buildings, and the new addition connecting Duckering /Bunnell buildings.

8. Health Plan: The Tobacco surcharge is definitely NOT going to be implemented for FY13. However, new employees hired CANNOT be tobacco users. No implementation date has been set for this new policy. This is in line with other large companies, such as Providence Hospital and AK Airlines. In March, we should be receiving info about health care costs and how it will affect our paychecks in FY13. Expect to see an increase in premiums.

The next Staff Council meeting is February 17, 2012 8:45 am WC Carol Brown Ballroom.
Highlights provided by Debbie Gonzalez of Unit 3.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Everyone is invited!

Dates of upcoming events:

Feb 6th
3:30-5PM in the Wood Center Ballroom - Faculty Senate 'Student Incivility, Bullying, and Aggression' Seminar. All Staff is invited.

Feb. 10th from 12:30 - 2 is the Q&A with Chancellor Rogers in the Wood Center Ballroom.

The President's Listening Session for UAF is scheduled for Feb. 14th, but there isn't a time or location posted. The following link will get you to the listening session page: