Category: Student

February 27, 2017 Victoria Petersen
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President Jim Johnsen held an open forum last September discussing Phase 1 of the university's Strategic Pathways plan with students and faculty. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

In a speech describing the state of the university, UA President Jim Johnsen announced Feb. 16 that the University system was going “strong” despite a decline in state funding and enrollment.

Johnsen expressed optimism in the university system, noting that strong leaders in the UA board of regents and his implementation of Strategic Pathways are increasing productivity and money management since a lack of state funding.

“President Johnsen’s address had the incredibly difficult job of honestly stating the needs of the university at a time when those needs, primarily more money, are at direct odds with the ability of the state to provide,” Sam Erickson, USUAA President, said. “However, I do believe that being honest about the real challenges faced by UA, such as the deferred maintenance backlog of close to $1 billion, was the best move, enabling a transparent plea to be made to the state based on the realities of funding needs when the university system has already absorbed cuts of almost 14 percent.”

For a university system that has seen nearly 10 percent of UA’s degree and certificate programs eliminated or suspended, a $52.7 million budget shortfall and the elimination of 923 university jobs in the last three years, UAA students are finding it hard to agree with Johnsen’s state of the university statements.

“I’d probably disagree. It seems like UAA struggles a lot financially. I’ve gone here the last two years and have seen a really high increase in tuition. It’s sad to think that Nordic skiing was almost taken away from UAA strictly from budget cuts. I think it’s pretty obvious UAA isn’t really doing that well considering there is constantly something else the are trying to get rid of,” Andrea Brainerd, a UAA health sciences student, said.

Johnsen mentioned a possible five percent, or $16 million, cut to UA funding when the legislature passes their budget for the next fiscal year. Cuts to UA funding are not included in the current budget at this time.

“I don’t think we’re doing that well, but I think we’re doing well considering that we haven’t been doing so well in recent years you know? Like, we’re in a bit of a weird spot and we could be doing a lot better. But we could also be doing so so so much worse,” Hannah Dorough, UAA English student, said.

With possible cuts in the future, university leaders are devising ways to save the UA system money, while maintaining a “strong” quality and efficient education.

USUAA’s Juneau advocacy trip was successful in gaining support from legislators and spreading the word of UA’s need for state funding.

“If Alaska is ever to transition to anything beyond a mere extraction-based economy, UA will play a vital role. We sink or swim together, and the job now falls to us as students and student advocates to press that point home,” Erickson said. “USUAA’s Juneau advocacy trip was already met with significant success and support from many of the new class of freshman legislators, but we won’t stop there.”

Erickson is urging students to call legislators and notes that the best way to get legislators to fund what’s important is to make calls and tell them.

February 20, 2017 Alexis Abbott

The transcript study recently conducted by the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP), researched college readiness at the University of Alaska. The study examined the number of students in need of developmental coursework arriving at all UA campuses in the past ten years.

Since the results were released, the University of Alaska and State Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) issued an official statement stating that they are stepping up to strengthen alignment between their two education systems. Their goal is to dramatically improve educational attainment in Alaska in hopes of improving economic ambition.

In September, the UA Board of Regents and the State Board of Education committed to work together on building a better education culture in the state. The transcript study found that 60 percent of students from Alaska’s largest high schools arrive at the University of Alaska needing remedial classes.

As many as 70 percent of students from Alaska with honor roll GPAs need remedial coursework when beginning college. That means those high percentage of students are paying for high-school-level classes.

Herb Schroeder, professor of engineering at UAA, vice provost for ANSEP, says that curriculum needs to be realigned between the university and K-12.

“We knew that this was a problem, particularly from students coming in from rural schools, but we were shocked to find out that it was a statewide problem for students of all ethnicities,” Schroeder said. “What is happening is that high schools are giving students diplomas and telling them that they are ready for college and they are not.”

The data taken from students for the survey totals 15,016, where just over 60 percent require developmental coursework.

The UA transcript study stated the importance of the results – students are passing college-level courses in high school only to retake them when they come to the university, the state is paying for students to take these courses more than once and students and their families continue to pay for the college courses after the students previously passed the classes in high school.

A link is needed between the university and the transition students make after high school.

“Mentally and physically, I think I was on the fence. I was excited and intrigued about being a college student but at the same time, I was nervous and unsure. That was probably due to the fact that I wasn’t academically prepared and felt rushed to become an adult…I ended up switching majors twice and figuring out what I wanted to do after three years of wasted money and effort,” Mariah DeJesus-Remaklus, a UAA journalism student, said.

Many students feel pressured to go to college immediately after high school, even when they are not scholastically ready.

“College hit me like a truck, breaking me mentally and crushing me emotionally. I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of not being good enough academically. Previous schooling came easily and good grades were handed out freely with minimal effort in work, whereas college is plain hard,” McKenna Smith, an undeclared freshman at UAA, said.

Better college preparation will soon be instilled in Alaska’s 54 school districts around the state. The goal of the UA and DEED is to implement a quality control system that provides improved qualification for furthering Alaskan student’s future education.

“You have to have some kind of quality control, so students are actually learning what you think they’re learning. You can’t just give them a grade because they show up for class,” Schroeder said.

Learn more about the UA transcript study at ansep.net.

February 13, 2017 Cheyenne Mathews

The Creekside Eatery in the Commons is no longer offering morning breakfast hours, and dinner hours have been shortened. Scott Evers, the area manager for NANA Management Services said that spring semester will offer the weekend services instead of weekday options of breakfast, lunch, dinner and late nights.

“Fridays for this semester, we are offering three different meal services: brunch, dinner, and late night. It was several things,” Evers said regarding Friday breakfast no longer being offered. “We have now revamped the whole commons. We did that in a very short amount of time. There are a lot of classes that are not offered on Fridays and we felt that we were going to try it out as a pilot program to see how it was perceived. We are still waiting for feedback with the students to see if we still want to go this way.”

When asked about how students were informed about this switch from morning hours of 7 – 10 a.m. to brunch which will be 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Evers said Seawolf Dining explained everything on their social media.

Seawolf Dining’s Facebook page did post on Jan. 27, the day the Eatery first closed breakfast, at 8:58 a.m., almost two hours after their normal hours.

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The day of the transition, the Seawolf Dining web page had not been updated to reflect the new hours, and in a fifteen minute period around 9 a.m., six or more students walked into the Eatery to be turned away. When asked about this, Evers was surprised. When staff at the Eatery were asked about the transition on Jan. 27, they were surprised about the transition and the web page not being updated as well.

David Weaver, director of Housing, Dining and Conference Services, said that the change was prompted by a lower rate of students living on campus.

“This academic year, we have the fewest students on meal plans in quite a few years,” Weaver said. “I believe this is related to the State’s economic crisis, higher than normal unemployment, people leaving Alaska and tuition price increases prompting students to live at home with parents, and take fewer classes, or time off from school to work. Because of fewer students on meal plans supporting dining operations across campus, we’ve had to make some tough choices. One was to switch Friday meal service at Creekside from breakfast and lunch to just brunch.”

Weaver also said that not many students utilized last semester’s Friday breakfast hours.

“To be honest, very few students swiped into breakfast on Fridays before 10 a.m., so I hoped it would not impact students much at all,” Weaver said.

Ian Mills, economics major, was one student in residential housing that did like to swipe in before 10 a.m., but Mills said that was before the breakfast option was cut. Mills said he was especially surprised by the cut because he never saw flyers advertising the close.

“Well, lots of weekends I like to get an early start, I don’t sleep in very long, and it was nice to be able to eat something before I went out and ran errands or studied or whatever it was that I was trying to do,” Mills said. “That’s kind of hard now that the Bear [Necessities] is closed all mornings before 10:30 [a.m.] and the Commons is closed before 10 [p.m.]. It’s really kind of late for breakfast at that point.”

Mills noted that even though the commons has been renovated, that some of the renovation promises, like the TVs advertised on design plans, never came to fruition.

“They told us that they were putting TVs on all these posts and we see how that turned out. The posters that are up by the door advertise TVs on the posts. Six flat screen TVs were advertised in the remodel,” Mills said. “It’s kind of frustrating, because we paid, we kind of entered into an informal contract with them under the expectations that we would receive the same services we’ve been receiving for the same price we’ve been paying for those services, and they decreased the amount of service we are receiving, and they didn’t decrease the price we are paying.”

Creekside Eatery’s reduced hours on Friday followed a Seawolf Dining decision last semester to take away the Union Station’s ability to accept dining dollars.

October 30, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

On Oct. 20, the Chancellor’s office emailed the UAA community about a new mandatory sexual discrimination training called Haven. The email stated that Haven training, and training’s in general, could make a difference on campus by raising awareness of sex discrimination. This goal of further awareness led to a new school-wide goal for all faculty,…

October 17, 2016 Cheyenne Mathews

Mailboxes for student residents in the Gorsuch Commons have a locking mechanism that can be reopened without the combination. The locks operate like typical locks with the exception of the way the lock dial also functions as the doorknob of the mailbox. Students spin the three numbers of their combination and then turn right to open the mailbox, but if a student just closes their locker and does not re-spin the lock, then anyone can reopen the mailboxes without a combination.

Candice Kelley, marketing major, lives in the residence halls at UAA. She believes the mailboxes can be secure ways to hold mail, but she also makes sure to spin the lock so that a combination is required every time before opening.

“I’ve learned that the hard way, by my friends just walking by and going ‘oh look,’” Kelley said as she motioned how her friends would open random boxes. “I usually just twist [my lock] back when it’s done, and do it to those surrounding mine. It’s just common courtesy. A lot of people don’t know that, that if you just close it, someone could just open it. When I check mine, I just [twist it back], but most people don’t so it would be very scary to think that someone could be like, ‘Ah, here, let me take your bills.’”

Few new residents realize that the boxes will only be locked if the dial is spun another complete interval. Joel Roberts is the administrative assistant with the University Housing Department, but he is also in charge of mail in the residence halls. Before Roberts was employed by the university, there were investigations into stolen mail from housing mailboxes. Roberts has worked to ensure box security by informing students on how the locking mechanism works.

“It is a concern because the residents need to be responsible for re-securing their boxes,” Roberts said. “I am aware that a number of them kind of like to just spin it into position where it is easily opened. The problem is, if it is easily opened for them, it is also easily opened for anyone else that would be coming by. So, whenever I am dialoguing with someone, and I notice at the end that they may not spin it closed, I ask them can you make sure to spin it closed each time for those purposes.”

Roberts believes this is particularly important for students who have valuable items delivered to campus.

“Part of the reason that I make sure to log every package, even the ones that are non-tracking these days, is because even a small package could have jewelry or something of great value in it. We make sure to log everything and ask that the residents bring their identification and slip in order to release it to them, just on the off chance that it could be delivered to the wrong box,” Roberts said.

Samantha Skirko is the Assistant Assignments Manager at the Gorsuch Commons, and she also is the person who typically helps new students open their boxes.

“Most of the time, they try to get them opened and they can’t and they just ask for help,” Skirko said. “Sometimes they have a question about which direction to turn them, or once they get to the last number they won’t know to turn them back to the right to get the spring to open.”

When Skirko instructs students how to open the boxes she also tells them to redial the locks to secure the box. Skirko tends to work with a large number of incoming students at the beginning of the year.

“In the very beginning of the semester, I would say anyone who hasn’t been here before usually needs some sort of assistance, which is a couple hundred people usually,” Skirko said. “And then sometimes a few returners if they have a new box because each box sometimes is just a little finicky.”

Mailboxes can easily be re-secured if students properly redial the lock, but if not, their mail is easily accessible by others.

August 10, 2015 Samantha Davenport

A decent amount of my freshman year was spent in room 207-B of West hall. I really liked West, it was overflow housing so not a lot of people occupied the halls. I lived in a quad, which consists of four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living room. Two of my roommates were hardly there…

April 21, 2015 Victoria Petersen

In the wake of budget cuts, university officials are brainstorming ways to save money in the state’s uncertain economy.  In late February, the Board of Regents approved a 5 percent tuition increase to take effect fall 2015 to counteract the financial shortfall. As students prepare for these increased expenses in the coming academic year, some may be surprised to learn about the smaller costs being added to the mandatory student fees. With each credit hour, mandatory fees increase — which can add up to, in some cases, more than $400 each semester.

One fee to note, the facilities fee, is increasing by $2. The facilities fee, one of the most expensive mandatory fees, is used to support facility renovation and infrastructure renewal. The fee is being raised from $4 a credit hour — applicable for students enrolled in up to 15 credits regardless of class delivery mode — to $6 a credit hour in the upcoming academic year. For a student taking 15 or more credits each semester, the facilities fee will increase $30, from $60 this year to $90 in the upcoming year.

Combined with the other mandatory fees the cost begins to add up.

University of Alaska President Pat Gamble issued the facilities fee Aug. 7, 2014. The fee would be raised by $2 every semester until being capped at $6 in the fall semester of 2015.

“The origin of (the fee) started on the Fairbanks campus and was collection for the power plant to keep funding. The way we use it on the Anchorage campus is for projects that enhance the campus for students by a safety aspect or any aspect,” said Ryan Buchholdt, Facilities and Campus Services business manager. “We are going to be installing LED parking lot lights in all the parking lots. They cost less, improve visibility and reduce issues with maintenance … that’s just one way we are using the funds. There is more money going towards the academic side rather than the back of house.”

Parking lot lights will be changed this summer in addition to lighting upgrades in Rasmuson Hall Room 101.

Many students notice the fees but fail to take advantage of the projects and facilities they go toward. Logistics student Matthew Newkirk pays little attention to the fees but is apathetic to increases.

“I have looked at the fees and the amounts somewhat. I take advantage of some more than others. Since people don’t/can’t usually abstain raising them a little, they probably wouldn’t be rejected. It would be great if there was more information on why the increase was happening though,” Newkirk said.

Mandatory student fees apply to all students enrolled in three or more credits, with the exception of the Facilities and Technology fees, which are applied at the first credit a student takes. There are nine mandatory fees.

One of the mandatory fees is the ePortfolio Fee, which is used to UAA’s software license of the ePortfolio service.  The fee is a flat $8. The service allows for students to create their own online portfolios.

The Green Fee is another mandatory student fee. The fee is set up for students who have a sustainable initiative or idea to use to make UAA a more sustainable and green campus. Some of the programs that have been funded by the Green Fee include the bike share program that allows students to check out bikes on campus.

The next fee is the Concert Board Fee, a $10 flat rate fee that allows UAA Concert Board to sponsor a variety of concerts including the Campus Kick-Off Comedy Show, A Cappella Festivella, Homecoming and Winterfest concerts and more.

In addition to the previous fees, students are also charged a $1 per credit Student Government Fee. The fee supports USUAA and the organizations that operate under them.

Students are also responsible for paying an $11 flat Media Fee that supports KRUA 88.1 FM and The Northern Light. The fee is split evenly between the two organizations.

UAA students must also pay a Student Transportation fee that allows students to use the Seawolf Shuttle or take the People Mover buses for free. The fee also helps pay for pedestrian transportation services like bicycle racks, escorts and trail maintenance.

The technology fee is just another one of the many fees students pay each semester. This fee starts when students take just one credit and is $5 per credit. The technology fee helps pay for Internet, IT services, and up-to-date software and equipment.

One group of fees can rack up to $270 — the Student Life fees. Student Life Fees encompass the Athletics/Recreational Sports fee, Student Activities Fee and the Student Health and Counseling Services Fee.

The Athletics/Recreational Sports fee allows students to use the recreation facilities around campus including the Alaska Airlines Campus Fitness and Recreation Center and the auxiliary gym and the multitude of offerings at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. The fee also allows students to get into UAA sporting events for a free or reduced price. The fee is $9 per credit and is split $5.40 for athletic events and $3.60 for recreational use.

Student Life fees also go towards Student Activities. Student Activities organize and support Campus Kick-Off, Homecoming, Winterfest and a variety of other events throughout the year. In addition, Student Activities funds the Publicity Center, which UAA clubs can use to get the word out for free and the Student Union Gallery.

Lastly, the Student Life fee includes the Student Health and Counseling Services fee which is $10 per credit. The fee helps support the Student Health and Counseling Center in Rasmuson Hall. Student may use the center for a variety of services including testing, check-ups, counseling and more for a free or reduced price.

In addition to these mandatory fees, course fees are commonly added to student’s bills depending on what courses they take. These fees include the e-learning fee, which is $25 a credit for every distance class taken by the student, and the lab fees which pays for the supplies in many science and art classes and varies in price from course to course.

Christina Johnson, adjunct professor for the department of social sciences for UAA’s Mat-Su College, has been teaching distance courses for Mat-Su College over the last two years and is continuing through the summer in solely distance education.

“I wasn’t even aware of this fee. I’m not sure where that money goes. It would be helpful to have more information about what this money is used for available for students,” Johnson said.

Along with tuition these mandatory student fees provide students with resources that can be taken advantage of when enrolled in three or more credits.

To find more information on student fees visit http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/records/registration/semester-expenses.cfm

March 5, 2015 Victoria Petersen

In early March, the University of Alaska will participate in a Title IX survey released to generate an overall understanding of how the university system is doing when it comes to making sure students feel safe. The campus climate survey will give the University of Alaska understanding of campus safety, education and services, and outreach…

February 26, 2015 John Sallee

Mikel Jay Foeh-Lang Hometown: Yokohama, Japan Born: July 23, 1992 Fun fact: English is his second language. His first language was Bahaasa Indonesian. He also speaks Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Java. “I genuinely feel like we are all on this campus for change,” says business major Mikel Jay Foeh-Lang. What makes Foeh-Lang so interesting is…

February 18, 2015 Victoria Petersen

Tucked within students’ UAA billing statements lies the “Green Fee,” a $3 fee that goes into a larger pool of money set aside specifically for projects that promote sustainability on campus. The Green Fee grant was founded by the students for the students to implement sustainability how they please. “It all comes down to us…

December 8, 2014 George Hyde

For Caitlin Cheely, a UAA alumna who earned her major in Russian last year, the weeks following graduation were a difficult and uncertain time.

“Life after college can be equally exciting and frightening,” Cheely said.

After graduation, students can be unsure of where to go or what to do. Thankfully, though, there are people at UAA who can help with the ordeal, including Danica Bryant, who is the workforce and career development coordinator at the UAA Career Services Center, or CSC.
“Graduates should be utilizing our free resources before they even graduate by doing internships and attending job fairs during their senior year,” Bryant said. “Since no one can turn back time, we still offer the same resources to recent graduates and alumni that we offer current students.”

The CSC allows students to meet one-on-one with staff to have their resumes examined and critiqued. The CSC can also test interview skills to help students get used to the process of getting a job after graduation.
In addition, the CSC offers free professional attire and access to several job databases both within and outside of UAA’s networks. This makes finding a job after college a much easier prospect.

These resources are extremely important, and they can make the difference between being a desirable job candidate and being off-putting towards a prospective employer. UAA’s CSC exists for a reason, and it’s useful to use them while you can.

Getting a job immediately after graduation, though, isn’t the only option. In fact, Cheely also advocates traveling.
“Employment may not be your first concern after graduation, and that is okay,” Cheely said. “As long as you have the resources necessary to plan an extended trip, it makes sense to travel after you graduate when you have very few obligations keeping you tied to a specific place.”

Graduate school is yet another option for graduates as well. For some, it’s a straight continuation of their collegiate careers. For others, it’s a long-term goal put off by a lack of finances.

For students like Cheely, a combination of the last two options is valid.
“Seeing as my graduate school of choice was not in Alaska, I made the decision to move out of state,” Cheely said. “I do not have connections to the community where my graduate school of choice is, so I want to be more self-sufficient before I move in that direction.”

In cases like her’s, it’s crucial to adjust to life in the community surrounding the graduate school, especially if it’s out of state. The feeling of being a stranger in a strange land is something that collegiate life should be training people for, but just in case, it’s sometimes ideal to take a slower pace.
In the end, though, it’s important to focus on what you want to achieve in life. No matter what happens after graduation, it’s important to stick to what you love and do what your degree has trained you for, at your own pace.
“The most important thing is that you make a consistent effort to pursue whatever goals you set for yourself,” Cheely said. “You will not always be able to travel in a straight line from point A to point B; you might need to make some stops along the way. Always try to make the most of those bumps in the road.”

October 28, 2014 Brett Baker

[youtube url=”http://youtu.be/1FhAGJw6vyE” autoplay=”yes”] TNL Spotlight: Devin Johnson discusses his new role as a USUAA Senator James Evans meets with Devin Johnson to discuss his new role as a Senator in UAA’s student government, USUAA. USUAA: http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/unionofstudents/ @USUAA

October 7, 2014 Stephen Cress

In the wake of two Main Apartment Complex break-ins within a week, concerns have been raised for the safety of students living in the residence halls. The first break-in took place Sept. 24, and the second took place seven days later on Oct. 1.
Around 2 a.m. Oct. 1, junior Derek Heck heard strange noises outside of his door.

Upon investigating the noise, Heck said he saw a man climbing into the window of his apartment’s living room while another man with a backpack stood outside. Heck startled the intruder by running toward him, causing the intruder to leave the window and run away.

Heck said he followed the intruder and chased both men on foot before they got away. After returning to his apartment, Heck woke up his roommates and immediately called the University Police Department, where they filed an incident report and were told to make sure their windows and doors were locked.

Heck’s roommate Devon Johnson, an environment and society junior, said he was asleep at the time of the incident and was only made aware of what happened the following day.

“If it had been a little longer, they would have been in our place,” Johnson said. “That’s the scariest thing to think about.”

Johnson said within two days of the incident, MAC resident coordinator Maria Bonifacio and UPD detective Teresa Denette called two emergency mandatory meetings for all MAC residents. The meetings, Oct. 2 and 3, discussed the incident and measures student residents should take to ensure their safety.

Denette told students that September through November are the most common months for break-ins to occur, because there are fewer daylight hours and little snow to reflect light.

So far this semester, a total of two break-ins have been reported in the Residence Halls.

During the meeting, Denette and Bonifacio proposed installing more streetlights and motion-sensing lights to increase visibility and eliminate blind spots along pathways for students in the residence halls. They also discussed possibly providing dowels to further secure the windows and having students with broken window locks place work orders.

UPD and Residence Life advise that all students living in the residence halls make sure that all of their windows and doors are properly locked and move their valuable items out of plain sight.

Denette said UPD is available to provide escorts for all students on campus that may feel unsafe walking alone or in dark areas.

To report an incident on campus, please contact UPD at 907-786-1120, or call 911 for emergencies.

February 23, 2014 Suhaila Brunelle

The cost of renting an apartment in Anchorage can be high, and working to pay for rent, utilities and groceries can be difficult while attending college. The residence halls also offer many programs to help students succeed in education. One of the programs offered is the First Year Experience program in North Hall. This program…

February 23, 2014 Audriana Pleas

The USUAA student government Advocacy Team returned from the state capital after a slew of productive meetings with state legislators between Feb. 1 and 4. Along with their other University of Alaska associates, the advocacy team met with senators and representatives in an effort to garner a bigger budget for UA projects.
The UA Coalition of Students advocated for larger budgets for the UAA and UAF engineering buildings, the UAF power plant and high-demand academic programs. The platform encompasses the needs of all schools in the UA system. An agreement was reached on Feb. 2 before meeting with legislators the following Monday and Tuesday.
Chancellor Tom Case asked USUAA to advocate for funds for the Alaska Airlines Center because it can only operate for 6 months on present funds.
UAA representatives thought it was more appropriate to focus on the UA system as a whole and directed their attentions elsewhere. USUAA is planning to head back to the capital to advocate for UAA-specific needs sometime next month.
USUAA President Drew Lemish, who is part of the Advocacy Team, says his decision to refrain from advocating for UAA-specific topics in this past advocacy meeting was welcomed by the UAA participants.
UA President Pat Gamble gave a budget presentation last Tuesday about the UA systems and the projects that need extra financial attention. UA students were granted the chance to provide testimonials and further explanation on topics that included advising.
Younger Oliver, a member of the Advocacy Team, says this is the first time a platform has not been organized beforehand. This was Oliver’s third and final trip as a UAA advocate. Her experience allowed her to lend advice to her team members.
“Everyone from around the state was on the same page,” Oliver said. “We all had the same goal, and when we actually went in to meet with legislators on Monday and Tuesday, we were all on point and we knew what we were talking about and we had done our research.”
Lemish agreed with Oliver.
“At the end of Tuesday evening, I would say that we accomplished everything we went down to accomplish. And I couldn’t have asked for a better team to go down with. And I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” Lemish said.
However, Lemish recognizes the need to return by to Juneau to ensure what UAA needs is conveyed in meetings.
“I think there is an opportunity, and I hope this opportunity is taken advantage of when we go down to advocate for UAA-specific needs, such as the sports complex operating budget,” he said.

February 23, 2014 Evan Erickson

Running the risk of an unprofitable overlap of graduation and Christmas gifts, UAA students will have the chance to walk at the newly opened Alaska Airlines Center on Dec. 14, just after fall final exams week. The decision to host December and May commencements at the new arena was made at a meeting of the Chancellor’s Cabinet last Tuesday.
To address concerns that summer and fall graduates might not be interested in a fall ceremony, Student Affairs conducted a survey of students, which found 54 of 68 respondents supported the idea.
UAA Special Events Manager Bridgett Mackey, who chairs the Commencement Planning Committee, has been working with a special task force since October sharing information with the Chancellor’s Cabinet to get approval.
“It’s another thing that contributes to enforcing UAA as a community. To have it on campus really creates that front porch feeling,” Mackey said.
Mackey says one advantage of the Alaska Airlines Center is its greater opportunity for the staging of graduates in the arena prior to walking. Whereas past commencements at the Sullivan Arena have had students staged in the hallways or even outside, the Alaska Airlines Center has an auxiliary gym that can be used for that purpose.
Mackey herself remembers having to wait patiently outside the Sullivan the first time she walked.
The Alaska Airlines Center is a much smaller arena, and fall commencement may be necessitated by capacity restrictions. Previous ceremonies at the Sullivan Arena have seen 800–850 students on the floor at a time, not including faculty and orchestra. The new arena has a maximum floor capacity of 892, as well as significantly fewer seats available.
Fall commencement is common practice at schools all over the country, and there are pros and cons.
“I personally wouldn’t have a problem with it, but I think a lot of people might have an issue with vacations,” Fine Arts major Lisa Thayer said.
Fall and summer graduates may be less likely to participate in commencement if they need to wait until May to walk.
“You’ll be more likely to walk if you can walk when you graduate. Friends and family won’t have to wait as long either,” Geological Sciences major Stephen Warta said.
UAA has not held a fall commencement since the late 1980s when the university was known as UA,A before merging with Anchorage Community College.

February 23, 2014 Suhaila Brunelle

The University of Alaska Anchorage offers a major in chemistry with two concentrations: biochemistry and chemistry. At present, a total of 80 students have declared chemistry as their major. Of these 80 students, 70 have declared a concentration in biochemistry, and only five have declared a concentration in a general studies track of chemistry called…

February 4, 2014 Audriana Pleas

In the next few weeks, important decisions about issues affecting students will be made. Students will be able to vote on the issues such as the smoke-free initiative and the introduction of a $6 recreational fee. For other issues, such as the funding for building operations, students are dependent on USUAA student government for representation.

Student representatives were in Juneau after battling flight cancellations last Friday and brief delays Saturday morn- ing. The annual advocacy trip officially commenced Saturday afternoon.

January 28, 2014 Evan Erickson

Plagiarism has been the scourge of academia for centuries. But should every culprit be punished? When does plagiarism become an opportunity for teachers to teach?

A simple Google search would reveal that the paragraph above was lifted directly from an article in the Rhode Island College News. At UAA, plagiarism this blatant can earn stiff penalties, and according to a recently released report published by the Dean of Students Office, “Students of Concern and Their Behavior,” it has.

January 21, 2014 Jacob Holley-Kline

It starts with a block of clay. Pieces are lopped off, rolled between hands and fashioned into objects and bodies. The edges are delicately pressed and raised. These projects are ideas and viewpoints molded into being by the talented students of the ceramics department.

After months of toil, selected student artists will present their work at the Claybody Ceramics Invitational in the Student Union Gallery this month.

January 21, 2014 Evan Erickson

First, take the over 300 programs and 200 or so functions that constitute UAA and have staff and faculty describe their importance. Next, assemble two respective task forces culled from staff and faculty for the purpose of evaluating the responses.

December 10, 2013 Evan Erickson

As of Jan. 1 UAA will no longer grant credit for College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams for Western Civilization I and II, and United States History I and II. Western Civilization I and II and either United States History I or II are general education requirements for all Bachelor of Arts degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college in the university system.

November 26, 2013 Evan Erickson

USUAA and Alaska state legislators persevered through a handsome ice storm to sit down for lunch Friday afternoon in the Student Union Den. All but two guests were able to attend the event, which was cut short by campus closures.

November 12, 2013 Suhaila Brunelle

As part of Engage Week, UAA’s Smoke-Free Task Force, Seawolf Debate, the Journalism and Public Communications Department, and the Department of Health hosted a soapbox debate about whether or not UAA should initiate a comprehensive smoke-free policy.

November 5, 2013 Evan Erickson

Faculty and administration are working to iron out the kinks in the juggernaut that is prioritization. Many details of the massive assessment of programs and services at UAA are still undecided, but several decisions have been reached following motions passed by the faculty Senate.

November 5, 2013 Suhaila Brunelle

On Oct. 28, the University of Alaska’s Stay on Track, Finish in Four campaign launched a photo contest. Upload a photo of how many years it will take you to finish your degree and be entered to win 2 free Alaska Airline tickets. The Stay on Track campaign is a system-wide effort created to get students graduated on time.

October 22, 2013 Evan Erickson

The bustle slowed to a murmur this past May as UAA students broke away from class loads and many faculty and staff members disappeared for the summer. While it didn’t seem like much was going on, radical changes were being implemented within the College of Arts and Sciences. Twenty-eight administrative positions were to be eliminated, and the 24 departments that comprise the CAS would be grouped under four different divisions: Humanities, Social Sciences, Fine Arts and Math/Natural Sciences. A centrally located hub would oversee the operations of each of the four divisions.

The first mention came in April, but the change was officially announced at the monthly CAS Council of Chairs and Directors meeting May 10. According to several faculty present, it was only in the final minutes of the meeting that the new hub system was announced, leaving little time for discussion.

An apology letter was emailed May 13 to the CAS chairs and directors on behalf of Dean of CAS John Stalvey.

In the letter Stalvey states, “I want to apologize for rushing out of the meeting on Friday. I made a mistake in allowing meetings to be scheduled back-to-back on Friday. … For those of you who are available, I have reserved the CAS conference room at 11 a.m. on Wednesday May 15 to provide you information on the reorganization of the CAS Academic Support Staff.”

In the meantime faculty and staff who were still on campus scheduled an impromptu meeting for that same Wednesday at noon to voice their concerns about their lack of involvement in the change.

Soon after, the various administrative assistants throughout the CAS were told that their positions would be eliminated June 30 and that they could apply for new jobs within the CAS and elsewhere in the university.

The university rehired nearly all of the displaced administrative assistants during the summer. There was a certain amount of shuffling as administrators who had worked in a single department were now dealing with entire divisions — some in entirely different divisions than they had come from. Several administrators became hub academic advisers.

According to Stalvey, along with the goal of increasing the number of academic advisers in the college, there was also a financial aspect to the change.

“The change from administrative assistants freed up approximately $325,000,” Stalvey said.

Stalvey also said about half of the money went into hiring additional academic advisers and another $100,000 went into other positions in the CAS.

CAS Academic Coordinator John Mun says the hub advising system is working on being more effective in identifying students who may benefit most from advising.

“Division-wide advisers are more aware of GER and overall requirements. It’s allowing us to do more pro-active outreach in contacting students,” Mun said.

UAA’s College of Arts and Sciences website lists the new academic advisers and positions in the hub’s and dean’s office, but the website has no mention of the hub change having happened.

Stalvey became CAS dean in 2012 and says he didn’t arrive from his previous job at Kent State University expecting to implement major changes at UAA. Stalvey explained that the budget for the CAS necessitated the change.

“By June I knew resources weren’t going to grow,” Stalvey said.

As for the model that would eventually become the hub, Stalvey says it was an ongoing process over the 2012-13 academic year.

“We weren’t settled on it in the fall. I believe it was after the first of the year. The reason I told folks in April was it was being considered by UA system-wide Human Resources,” Stalvey said.

“It was crazy to do it when everybody was away. They should have asked us in Fine Arts,” said associate music professor Karen Strid-Chadwick.

Stalvey said it would have been much more difficult to implement the changes during the school year and is clear about his responsibilities in the CAS.

“The curriculum is the responsibility of the faculty. The administrative structure is the responsibility of the dean,” Stalvey said.

The CAS is the largest college in the entire University of Alaska system as well as being physically very long. The divisional hubs for some departments are more than a half-mile distant. The problem was addressed with the addition of several satellite offices but faculty still need to adjust to not having dedicated administrative help in their individual departments.

“We have somebody working in our office who replaced (previous administrator) Erin Day. I don’t know when I ask her a question if she’s on our time or someone else’s,” said assistant journalism professor Elizabeth Arnold.

Some welcome the hub.

“I think it’s been a wonderful change. I’m one of those who thought the change was needed and that it was a good change. The position descriptions were more clearly laid out,” said biological sciences professor Loren Buck.

The last time a hub system was implemented at UAA was in 1998 with the College of Business and Public Policy, a much smaller college centrally located in Rasmuson Hall.

In its first semester, the long-term success of UAA’s most recent hub remains to be seen.

 

October 22, 2013 Suhaila Brunelle

There is no safe exposure amount to smoke. This is the message UAA’s Smoke-Free Task Force hopes to communicate. The task force was formed in response to a challenge made by the United States Department of Health and Human Services for all college campuses to go smoke and tobacco free by 2016.

October 22, 2013 Evan Erickson

In spring 2012 the Northern Light mourned the loss after seven years of the UAA Housing & Recreation Activities program in an editorial chastising the university’s budgetary reasoning.

Now a group of students and faculty is hoping to bring back outdoor opportunities — not only to students who live on campus but to everyone at UAA. This time around the money would come from a student fee.

About a dozen students and one faculty member met Oct. 11 to share ideas on the types of things that might be possible with the fee. Professor of health, physical education and recreation T.J. Miller, a veteran of the previous program, was there to lend his expertise.

“I helped create it (the previous program) in Housing & Recreation Activities. It’s sort of a revival of that idea, but available to all students, staff and faculty,” Miller said.

One of the ideas is a shuttle bus to Alyeska resort for a day of skiing and snowboarding at a fraction of the cost. There is also mention of hosting lectures by outdoor experts.

USUAA Vice President Cassie West has designated the group as an ad-hoc committee, meaning they can now set to work drafting a bill to appear on the ballot for the spring 2014 UAA Student General Election.

The committee is relying on feedback to determine whether students would be willing to pay a fee, and if so, what types of activities they are most interested in. Students, staff and faculty are asked to take part in the short survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FNXGBWL.