The Death of the Technology Advisory Board
Sam Allen / UAF Sun Star
Chancellor Brian Rogers has disbanded UAF’s Technology Advisory Board.
The chancellor’s office announced the change in a letter Aug. 13. While not all of the details are known, there are some things that Chancellor Rogers’ letter made clear.
OIT will now get 60 percent of the Technology fee, “for smart classrooms and equipment supporting students.” This will more than double the amount received from the fee versus what was collected in 2013-2014.
Rasmuson Library will no longer compete against other departments for funds, as it did under TAB. Instead the library will receive 25 percent of the fees collected, “for computer and technology improvements supporting student access to library materials.” The last 15 percent will go to the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity (URSA), to “establish a student-led process for distribution to support instructional equipment.”
The Technology Advisory Board was made up of four students appointed by the Associated Students of the University of Alaska (ASUAF), a representative of the Graduate Student Organization, a representative from the Faculty Senate, another Faculty member, and two members of the Staff Council.
Until last month, any student, faculty or staff member at UAF could submit a proposal for new technology, as well as have a chance to explain why it belonged at UAF. Together, each year’s TAB was responsible for reviewing the requests and deciding how to spend the money that comes from student technology fees.
The money was collected from the $5 per credit hour technology fee each student pays. Full-time students pay no more than $60, while part-time students pay a per credit fee. This is separate from the ASUAF fee that students choose to levy on themselves, but has always had a strong component of student involvement. There have always been more students than faculty and staff on TAB.
While the OIT and representatives for the library were very involved in the negotiations regarding the dissolution of TAB, and the reallocation of fees, URSA and TAB were not.
When contacted, URSA Coordinator Elizabeth Belknap said, “We were as surprised as anyone. We didn’t ask for the money, and honestly we have no idea what the process will be for disbursing it.”
She said that it would probably take URSA staff several months to learn what TAB had been doing, and how Chancellor Rogers wanted them to disburse the money. She read the letter dissolving TAB, but had no more information about what comes next.
“I will let you know when we figure it out,” Belknap promised.
Jennifer Chambers was an ASUAF member of TAB for several years until receiving a the chancellor’s cancelation letter. she was not aware that there was even a discussion about it. Documentation received shows that Dean Bella Gerlich, the UAF Dean of Libraries, brought up the idea in early 2014 that TAB funds should be managed differently.
Karl Kowalski, Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO), who heads the Office of Information Technology (OIT), also proposed increasing the portion of the Technology Fee that went to the OIT during the spring of 2014.
Kowalski proposed that 100 percent of the Technology Fee be put towards Smart Classroom support and refresh, under the purview of OIT.
Provost Susan Heinrichs suggested that “URSA may also be an appropriate department to receive a portion of the allocation.” A final decision wasn’t made at the meeting, but Chancellor Rogers promised to “review the proposals and make a final decision.”
During the June 16, 2014 UAF Chancellor’s Cabinet meeting, the minutes show the topic was discussed with an initial proposal of 50/30/20 by Dean Gerlich. This would have allocated 50 percent of the fees to OIT, 30 percent to the library, and 20 percent of the fees to go through the current TAB process.
It does not appear that the 2013-2014 members of TAB, nor any students, were involved in the negotiations regarding the dissolution of TAB and the changes in fee allocations.