Board of Regents Pass FY16 Budget Requests — Program and efficiency reviews continue

The budget meeting November 5-6 was interesting and informative. For information on the outcomes and overview of the FY16 budgets, as well as President Gamble’s comments, please review the post-meeting press release: http://www.alaska.edu/opa/enews/2014/1107/

I’d encourage everyone to also take a moment to go to the Board of Regents page and review the budgets and the supporting documentation linked to the agenda (http://www.alaska.edu/bor/agendas/2014/nov-5-6/).

Right away you will recognize the immense amount of work happening throughout the system to improve efficiencies and save money. Lets keep working at it because these tighter budget days are not likely to end soon. Our years of continued growth may be over, and now we may have to make some tough decisions. I commend the chancellors for their leadership in conducting detailed program reviews. This will not be easy.

As several Philosophy students testified during the public comment, not all majors can or should be measured by the employability of graduates, and many skills, like critical thinking, problem solving and discourse cannot be valued in outcomes based evaluation systems. It is critically important to maintain that balance as we move forward, and look to our faculty to guide these tough choices and maintain a full array of classical as well as workforce education offerings.

As far as my staff governance report, I’ll post it below in full. In short- we are working hard. I look forward to sharing more updates with you as we continue to work with faculty, students and administration on major issues affecting the university. As always, feel free to comment, use the staff submission form (http://www.alaska.edu/governance/staff-alliance/submissions/), write me an email (mmusick@alaska.edu) or give me or any governance representative a call with your concerns, suggestions and questions.

Thanks!

Monique Musick, chair Staff Alliance

Testimony Nov. 4, 2014

Good morning madam Chair, members of the board, president Gamble,

I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you again. I just had a good conversation with President Gamble on Friday where I got to address some of the recent focuses of staff governance groups and had was able to hear the history of the University of Alaska’s land grant status and the theory behind the proposed Sovereign fund. As Alliance Chair I have regular meetings with Gamble. This kind of accessibility to, and open discourse with, university leadership is truly appreciated and an invaluable opportunity within this organization and one that is vital to the shared governance process.

And staff governance has been busy.

Recently a committee of staff representatives from campuses across the system has been in discussion with CHRO Erik Seastedt to draft proposed furlough regulations; namely to address chief staff concerns including timely notification, limits and end dates, the opportunity to appeal for hardships and provisions for voluntary reductions before a full-fledged furlough is enacted.

We know that policy and regulation cannot address every possibility or future outcome, but we do want to be sure that regulations require clear notification of any proposed furlough including implementation details and an end date. We need faith and transparency in budgeting to see that such measures would be taken only to prevent job loss or to mitigate extreme unexpected budget shortfalls.

To be sure there are many of us who are listening closely these coming two days to the presentations about, and discussions surrounding, the university’s budget and its subsequent future with the governor and Alaska legislature. A showing of solidarity and support by this board is important, and the hard work being done by our budget offices and staff in developing a thoughtful, efficient and targeted budget is greatly appreciated.

Staff representatives have been identified to join a committee of faculty and administration to work as technical advisors during the creation of a common calendar for the three universities. We hope to help continue to make progress on this initiative.

Staff also have been working to develop a statement of UA Core Values concurrent with the value statements recently shared by Summit Team leadership. There are many similarities between the two drafts, and there are stark differences too. Like so many things within this system, it will take time to work through the processes and revisions. The challenge as we move forward is not so much the editing of words but of explaining why it is being done at all. While progress is consistently made improving cooperation and communication across the university system, there are still silos, disagreements, distrusts and frustrations that make it hard to even imagine a pervasive unified culture let alone take steps toward it.

As part of my work on the Joint Health Care Committee I attended Premera’s “Alaska Wellness Institute” training module yesterday about motivation and rewards. While the context in this instance was wellness programs, time and again belief in ones company, its leadership and mission is shown to be more motivating than rewards or prizes. Simple recognition or compliments can be more positive and inspiring than fear or reward. In short, how we feel about our company, our university, means more than we get from it. This is all the more reason why we need to be addressing instances where faith is lost, and to work together to avoid it in the future. We don’t need to be told what values we should have, we need to believe that our organization shares ours. That is why this is important.

Staff governance has created a new form for collecting suggestions, success stories, complaints and concerns. The goal was to give all staff a means to share their concerns and ideas, anonymously if desired, to be evaluated and redirected to the right department for further development or feedback. It will still take a lot of work and promotion to fully engage staff in the initiative, but proving them with tools and clear instructions on how to be involved will only help and is one way that we can assist with the Shaping Alaska’s Future initiative. (http://www.alaska.edu/governance/staff-alliance/submissions/)

One final note, in light of our goal of promoting staff successes, is a sneak announcement of some really great news: the UA College Savings Plan, in addition to yet again being recognized as one of the top rated 529 plans in the nation for the quarter, has recently partnered with Design Alaska to accept a staff payroll deduction contribution form for UA College Savings Plans. We hope this is the first of many business and industry partners to share their support of saving for college and the recognition of those benefits. Namely that children whose parents establish a college savings account are more likely to earn a college degree than those who don’t. Great work and congratulations to Lael Oldsmixon and her team for building this new partnership and sharing the college mission with Alaska businesses and children.

Thank you for your time, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

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