President Johnsen speaks during the university's centennial celebration on May 3. The centennial event at the University of Alaska Fairbanks featured speakers, a reenactment of the bill signing by territorial governor John Strong, pageboys handing out a re-creation of the newspaper announcement, a history lesson by UAF Professor Terrence Cole, a presentation of Governor Walker's proclamation, and cake. Learn more at https://uaf.edu/centennial/. Photo by Monique Musick

System News May 2017

  • Seven Alaskans awarded first-ever Teach for Alaska Presidential Scholarship
  • UA President Jim Johnsen announces Daniel White as new UAF chancellor
  • Message from President Johnsen on July 1 Budget Deadline
  • Regents to discuss budget, Strategic Pathways, Title IX progress, and honor staff and departing chancellors during June meeting
  • Johnsen responds to staff governance compensation requests
  • UAF celebrates centennial
  • The Capitol Report: May 16, 2017

Seven Alaskans awarded first-ever Teach for Alaska Presidential Scholarship

University of Alaska president surprises scholarship finalists during video meeting

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen awarded seven young Alaskans with the first-ever Teach for Alaska Presidential Scholarship during a video conference with them today. The competitive scholarship, part of the university’s Drive the Change public awareness initiative, was open to all Alaska high school students planning to pursue a degree in education. Scholarship recipients hail from Angoon to Nome.

“These very talented and dedicated young people are the kind of students we want at our university,” Johnsen said, “and each demonstrates a strong desire to seek a career as a teacher and to nurture the next generation of young minds. Providing support and an educational path for Alaska’s future teachers is just one of the ways the university can continue to drive change in our state. We are honored to be able to support the higher education of not only one, but seven aspiring teachers as they pursue their career goals.”  MORE....

UA President Jim Johnsen announces Daniel White as new UAF chancellor

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen announced that he has selected Daniel White to become the ninth chancellor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. White will succeed UAF Interim Chancellor Dana Thomas and will assume his new position on July 1.

White, a Fairbanksan with a long university career, is currently vice president for academic affairs and research for the University of Alaska System. He joined UAF’s faculty in 1995 as a professor of civil and environmental engineering. He then served in successive administrative roles within UAF. In 2005, White accepted an appointment as interim director of the Institute of Northern Engineering (INE), the research unit of UAF’s College of Engineering and Mines. After a national search, he was hired as director of INE in July 2006. In 2010, he was appointed as the associate vice chancellor for research. With this appointment, he became head of the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization. In late 2014, White was named interim vice chancellor for research at UAF and in March 2015 he became the UA System vice president for academic affairs and research.  MORE....

UAF celebrates centennial

The University of Alaska Fairbanks celebrated its 100th anniversary on Wednesday, May 3, with a ceremony re-enacting the moment when the college was created in 1917.

The Territorial Legislature approved the creation of the Alaska Agricultural College of School of Mines — the University of Alaska’s predecessor — on April 26, 1917. Territorial Gov. John Strong signed the bill on May 3, establishing the first college in the territory.

A dramatization of that signing, complete with costumes and other details from the era, highlighted the event which also included speakers honoring UAF’s past, present and future.

Find more information on the history of the university and other Centennial events on the UAF website: http://uaf.edu/centennial/

The Capitol Report: May 16, 2017

By Miles Baker
Associate Vice President Government Relations

Today is the 120th day of the legislative session. While there have been some procedural movements since my last update, not much has been resolved in the four primary areas that need agreement before the Legislature can adjourn: the operating budget, a broad-based tax, oil tax reform and Permanent Fund restructuring.

As of this writing, it’s still unclear how and when things will wrap up here in Juneau. All observers agree that work won’t be finished by tomorrow’s 121-day regular session deadline. But there isn’t real consensus on what comes next.  MORE...


Message from President Johnsen on July 1 Budget Deadline

May 30, 2017

Dear UA Colleague –

I wanted you to know that as the legislature continues its work during the special session on the state operating and capital budgets, we are monitoring the process very carefully, including Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) guidance regarding a possible government shutdown.

Given the uncertainty, you may hear or read speculation about layoffs at the university. However, no decision regarding layoffs caused by a shutdown has been made, and such a decision won't be made until sometime after I consult with the Board of Regents on June 1 and 2 . Budget scenarios currently are being developed, including if the legislature fails to pass a budget by July 1.

If we do find ourselves without an operating budget in the weeks ahead, we will use our best efforts to maintain critical operations and services to our students and our communities.

I value you and all that you contribute to our university.

Thank you,

Jim Johnsen

Regents to discuss budget, Strategic Pathways, Title IX progress, and honor staff and departing chancellors during June meeting

The University of Alaska Board of Regents will address the university’s FY18 budget and hear plans for how to increase UA enrollment, President Jim Johnsen’s recommendations for Phase 2 of Strategic Pathways, and a presentation from national experts on effectively organized universities and the issues facing UA at their June 1-2 meeting in Fairbanks. Regents also will approve resolutions in honor of departing UAF and UAA chancellors and recognize recipients of the Staff Make Students Count awards. The meeting will take place in room 109 of the Butrovich Building on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus starting at 9 a.m. each day, and livestream will be available.  MORE...

Click HERE to download the latest Strategic Pathways presentation.

Johnsen responds to staff governance compensation requests

President Johnsen announced changes to personal holiday days and the annual leave cash-in program in a May 26 memo to Staff Alliance and the Statewide Administration Assembly in response to five recommendations by those staff governance bodies. Each decision is supported through consultation with the Summit Team and Chief Human Resources Officer Keli McGee.

1. Increased Personal Holidays
Currently, only non-exempt staff are eligible for one personal holiday each fiscal year. In the memo, Johnsen states, “although the university provides generous annual and sick leave accruals, in the interest of equity and appreciation for the hard work of all our staff, I am willing to expand the personal holiday benefit to all non-represented exempt employees.” He did not support the request for an additional personal holiday day for non-exempt staff.

2. Employee Recognition Program

Each of the three universities and the system office will continue to manage their own employee recognition programs. Johnsen and the three chancellors agree that it is important “to recognize and celebrate the high quality work our staff performs for the university.”

3. Loyalty/Retention Bonus

In response to a Staff Alliance recommendation to implement a small longevity bonus upon achieving a specified milestone, Johnsen recognized the lack of a funding mechanism to support the effort, but does encourage retention bonuses on a case-by-case basis “as funding and university priorities may be appropriate.”

4. Non-Mandatory Winter Closure

No changes will be made at this time to change the current practice of a winter hard closure with specifically approved exceptions as it “is in the best interest of the university, specifically as the practice results in real cost savings at a predictable time each year.”

5. Annual Leave Cash-In

Johnsen is expanding the annual leave cash-in program to allow all eligible non-represented exempt and non-exempt employees to cash in up to 40 hours of their annual leave bank so long as, “in order to maintain work life balance,” they have taken 80 hours of annual leave prior and have 40 hours remaining in their annual leave bank. In addition, the president and human resources will be advancing a recommended policy change to the Board of Regents to increase the cap on annual leave maximum balance. “I am especially sensitive to the fact that some employees lose annual leave each year and that employees may not be getting time off needed to recharge.” The human resources departments at the multiple campuses will work on the implementation and more details will be communicated in the near future.

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