When University of Alaska regents held their annual meeting on June 19, 1998, in Fairbanks, they elected new board officers, approved a retirement incentive program for university employees, and directed outgoing university President Jerome B. Komisar to look into allegations by the UAA coordinator for Alaska Wilderness Studies that she was instructed as to what she could and couldn't say in her initial report on the Ptarmigan Peak climbing accident.
Anchorage Regent Michael J. Burns was elected president of the board succeeding Michael P. Kelly of Fairbanks who served two terms as president. Elsa Froehlich Demeksa of Juneau was elected vice president, succeeding Dan Ogg of Kodiak. Annette Nelson-Wright, the student regent from Juneau, was elected secretary, succeeding Mary Jane Fate of Fairbanks, and Chancy Croft of Anchorage was reelected treasurer. Office terms are for one year.
For the third year in a row, regents approved a retirement incentive program (RIP) for university employees in FY99. The action came after regents heard all three of the university system chancellors say they need the RIP in order to balance budgets and protect programs and courses at their campuses. UA human resources executive director Patty Kastelic said that over the past two years, 265 university employees have participated in the program which is expected to produce a net savings of $13 million over three years.
During a meeting of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee the day before the annual meeting, Deb Ajango, director of UAA's Alaska Wilderness Studies program, read an open letter to the regents in which she alleged that she was instructed as to what she could and couldn't say in her initial report on the accident. Regents directed university President Komisar to look into Ajango's allegations and report back to the board.
Regents approved the expenditure of an additional $600,000 for the UAA student housing/food service project. The funds will cover Municipality of Anchorage inspection costs, landscaping, furniture, fixtures and equipment. Total cost of the project is now estimated at $34.4 million, under the $34.8 million authorized by the legislature.
Proceeds of $300,000 from the sale of the university's interest in the Stampede Mine site to the National Park Service will be utilized by UAF's School of Mineral Engineering to set up a field education and research site in cooperation with the Golden Zone, a mining property leased from the state of Alaska by Mines Trust, Ltd., and located about 20 miles southeast of Cantwell. About half of the $300,000 will be deposited in a quasi-endowment with the University of Alaska Foundation to provide ongoing support for student use of the education and research site. The plan for the proceeds was approved by the regents subject to the university administration and the proprietor of the Golden Zone Mine entering into an agreement for the long term use of the Golden Zone Mine by the university.
At the request of UAF, regents approved a Ph.D. program in marine biology, and M.S. and Ph.D. programs in environmental chemistry at UAF. The newly approved programs will not require any additional funds for implementation.
After authorizing the university administration to proceed with the sale of revenue bonds in the amount of $9.82 million for UAF's coal-water project, regents asked the administration to report back to them in October on the projects budget plan; appointment of a board of directors to oversee the project; the role of the UAF Mineral Industry Research Laboratory; and they asked that the university's general counsel report to them on project liabilities.
In two budget actions, the regents approved the distribution of the FY99 operating and capital budget appropriations among the regional campuses, and also approved the FY99 student government budgets which are funded entirely by student activity fees and related university receipts.
In other actions, regents unanimously approved a resolution honoring departing university President Jerome B. Komisar . . . named Wendy Redman, vice president for university relations, to serve as acting president of the university in July and August pending the arrival of President-Elect Mark R. Hamilton.