University of Alaska Fairbanks SCHOOL OF FISHERIES AND OCEAN SCIENCES  
School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences About us Contact staff

Dean's monthly updates

July 2007

June 30 was the end of the UAF fiscal year, FY07.  Unlike the previous three years, the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences did not end the year with a budget surplus.  The FY07 SFOS budget deficit was $133,078.  Several factors resulted in an SFOS budget deficit for FY07 and I wish to explain how this happened and the actions we are taking to assure a brighter financial end to FY08.  Each year the SFOS unit directors develop budgets that project expected expenses.  As a group, we also prepare a revenue budget that includes the UAF funds to the school along with estimates of tuition receipts and indirect cost recovery (ICR) from our research overhead.  The most important factor in our budget deficit in FY07 was an overestimation of ICR.  Our FY07 budget was based upon receiving $1,865,000 in ICR, a reasonable estimate based upon the FY06 recovery. The actual FY07 ICR was $1,726,916, a difference of $138,084.  Revenue shortfall was not the only problem as six of our eight units exceeded their budget estimates in FY07.  These overruns are attributable to both increased personnel costs and higher costs for operating our facilities in Seward and Kodiak.  Operation costs in those two locations alone have increased over $200,000 in the last two years.
 
The budget shortfall in FY07 has to be recovered during the current fiscal year.  As a start, we have cancelled the planned all-faculty meeting in Anchorage which should save about $50,000.  We will hold this meeting electronically.  I have also asked each unit director to examine their budgets for potential cost savings.  Since most of our expenditures are in salaries, finding additional external funding (Fund 2) for both faculty and staff salaries is the most cost effective measure we can take.  The funds available from the Dean’s office for program enhancements or to cover unexpected expenses will not be available this year and I will limit my travel primarily to trips that are not paid from Fund 1.  Working together we can reduce our expenditures to assure a balanced budget this fiscal year.
 
The financial future is not totally bleak as we have reserved funds in the FY08 budget to hire five new faculty members.  Replacing departed faculty should allow us to generate additional research funding that will in turn increase our revenues. I am pleased to announce that Dr. Jeremy Mathis, a chemical oceanographer from the University of Miami, is the first new hire and will join us as an Assistant Professor of Marine Science next month.
 
The search for a director for our Fishery Industrial Technology Center (FITC) took me to Anchorage on July 13 where Associate Dean Mike Castellini and I had dinner with one of the candidates.  While in Anchorage, I also met with Diane Kaplan, President of the Rasmuson Foundation, to discuss our expansion of the SFOS fisheries degree programs.  At the meeting, I was able to show her the new web site that PIO Carin Bailey and Undergraduate Fisheries Coordinator Trent Sutton have prepared.  It can be found on our web page at www.sfos.uaf.edu/fisheries .
 
The SFOS Executive Council met by teleconference on July 17.  We received a presentation from David Veazey of UA Statewide on the electronic faculty activity reporting system we will use this fall.  SFOS is the UAF beta test site for this new method of reporting faculty productivity.  We also received a research funding report on the outcome of the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP).  Unfortunately, our faculty captured only about 6% of the $14,000,000 BSIERP funding.  SFOS faculty members are typically awarded from 20 to 30% of NPRB funding each year.  We are fortunate that several of our NSF Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST) proposals were successful:  PIs Weingartner, Gradinger, and Whitledge.
 
July 19 and 20 was spent in Seward where Seward Marine Center (SMC) Director Dan Oliver and I toured the facility and discussed his plans for the center.  We also met with Phyllis Shoemaker, Nici Murawsky and Linda Lasota to discuss plans for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl national finals we are hosting in Seward in April 2008.  I represented UAF at the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) Board of Directors meeting on July 20.  Much of the meeting considered the relationship between the ASLC and the university.  The ASLC board and the University have agreed that the ASLC will hire a Science Director who will report directly to the ASLC Executive Director.
 
It is with some sadness that I report that the R/V Alpha Helix was sold in July to Stabbert Maritime of Seattle and departed Seward on July 25. SMC Director Dan Oliver reported that the departure created a “wee bit of excitement yesterday for the new owners when they experienced a CPP casualty while trying to depart the fuel pier. They put a slight dent in a neighboring fishing boat when a linkage on the CPP system failed and the CPP was stuck in full reverse. The problem turned out to be a failed linkage pin and was fine after replacing it.”  Former SMC director Tom Smith has provided a history of the vessel that can be viewed on the web at http://www.sfos.uaf.edu/smc/about/history.html. The R/V Alpha Helix provided venerable service to UAF faculty and arctic researchers throughout the nation since it arrived in Alaska in 1980.  May she serve others as well in her new life.
 
Denis