Regents of the University of Alaska are urging Alaskans to vote "yes" on September 14 on the question of whether a portion of permanent fund earnings should be used to help pay for state needs and balance the budget.
The state's constitution provides that income from the permanent fund shall be deposited in the general fund, regents pointed out, and the intent is that these earnings are available to the legislature to fund needed state services, including the University of Alaska.
Regents said the state's current budget shortfall requires all revenue sources to be on the table and available to meet state needs. They are concerned that if the proposition is not approved, balancing the budget will require more and deeper budget cuts, which will prove harmful to the university and to other important state programs and services.
The resolution urging a "yes" vote was unanimously approved.
Reform of the university's teacher education programs continued at the meeting in Seward with the approval of a new Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BAS) degree program at UAF. This program has been specifically designed to prepare students wishing to be elementary teachers with the breadth of knowledge that they must possess for admission to graduate education programs and successful careers as elementary teachers.
The main thrust of the reform is to provide for substantial content preparation in the education of teachers. To this end, the university, with the advice and support of the Alaska State Board of Education, is phasing out the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree programs. Professional teacher training will shift from undergraduate to graduate level programs. Teacher candidates must complete a baccalaureate degree appropriate for the subject matter they will teach and a fifth year of intensive training in real classrooms under the guidance of a mentor teacher.
The current program will be phased out by December 2002. After that time, the fifth year program will be required for all teachers in order to be certified by the Department of Education to work in Alaska public schools.
The university is pursuing a corporate college concept to provide a single point of contact within the statewide university system for business and industry workforce training.
The need for business and industry to provide ongoing training for their employees is accelerating every year, and runs the gamut from 2-hour seminars to baccalaureate and graduate program completion.
The corporate college will function as a center, coordinating access to workforce development programs, and will facilitate the mobilization of system resources to address those needs in the most effective and efficient way.
A new Associate of Applied Science Degree Program in Occupational Safety and Health was approved at UAA, and regents also approved a tuition surcharge for the UAA Education Leadership program.
The Kerttula Building on the Mat-Su College campus will be re-roofed at a total cost of $510,000, and regents also approved the schematic design and funding up to $330,000 for road improvement projects on the UAF campus.
Early indications are that the UA Scholars Program is turning out to be a great success. Of the 750 Alaska high school graduates offered the four-year, $10,800 scholarship, more than 300 have indicated their interest in attending a UA campus. There won't be any final numbers until after fall enrollment is completed. University officials indicated they thought perhaps 100 students would take advantage of the scholarships the first year, and these preliminary figures indicate their expectations will be substantially exceeded.
University President Mark R. Hamilton and members of the board joined in a resolution of sympathy for the family of the late William S. Rose, UAA„s vice chancellor of administrative services, who died earlier this month when the plane he was piloting crashed at the eastern entrance to Lake Clark Pass.