More than 700 Alaska high school graduates will be eligible to receive four-year scholarships to attend the University of Alaska in the fall of 1999 under terms of the University of Alaska Scholars Program which was unanimously approved by the Board of Regents at the November meeting in Anchorage.Proposed by university President Mark R. Hamilton, the program will award the scholarships to the top 10 percent of graduates from each accredited Alaska high school. The scholarships will be awarded in the amount of $10,800 to assist in the payment of tuition, fees, room, board, books, transportation and other educational expenses for attendance at the University of Alaska. The awarded scholarships will be redeemable in the amount of $1,350 per regular semester while attending the University of Alaska.
Program costs are estimated to vary from $500,000 to $750,000 a year, and will be paid initially by the university from earnings of the University of Alaska Land Grant Endowment Fund. "This is part of the money the university receives for managing and developing its land," Hamilton said, "and it is appropriate that we use some of it to invest in Alaska's young people, the state's greatest natural resource." Hamilton said he thinks the popularity of the scholarship program will grow over the years, and will eventually create student and parent ambassadors for the university throughout the state.
The program is receiving national attention because of recent studies which show that the cost of higher education continues to rise nationally as available federal grant money continues to erode, putting higher education out of reach for many families in America. Within Alaska, some see the program as helping to slow a brain drain that occurs when Alaska high school graduates go outside to college with half of them not returning to Alaska when their studies are completed.
Program specifics are now being developed, and will be widely disseminated to all Alaska school districts, Hamilton said.
Regents expressed strong support for President Hamilton•s operating budget proposal to seek an additional $16.3 million from the legislature for each of the next three fiscal years. "We're saying this is the amount of money it takes to run the university," said Board of Regents President Michael J. Burns of Anchorage. "We will be meeting with legislators and members of the general public to advocate for and educate about both the cost of running the university, and the value of the university to the people of Alaska."
The board approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with United Academic-Adjuncts, the union representing about 1,000 part-time instructors in the university system. The agreement, also approved by the union, gives adjuncts their first pay raise in 18 years. If the raises are funded by the legislature, the minimum salaries for adjuncts will be increased by 6 percent in 1999, with 5 percent and 4 percent raises for the two years following. The agreement also maintains the "at-will" nature of adjunct faculty employment.
Regents authorized the administration to proceed with UAF•s original Duckering Building deferred maintenance project, and shifted about $4 million in deferred maintenance funds to enable UAF to expand the project to include compliance with requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act and other renovations. The expanded project scope will increase the total cost of the project from $9.8 million to $12.2 million.
For four of the eleven regents, the November meeting was the last regular meeting as they have virtually completed their eight-year terms of service to the university. Regents Sharon Gagnon and Joseph Henri of Anchorage, Michael P. Kelly of Fairbanks and Lew Williams, Jr., of Ketchikan, all named to the board by former Gov. Walter J. Hickel in 1991, were honored at a dinner November 19. Hickel and Governor Tony Knowles were on hand to express their gratitude to the four who will step down officially when Gov. Knowles names their successors, probably in January.
In other actions, the regents authorized the administration to proceed with evaluation, planning and design of food service enhancements at UAF . . . Approved a policy establishing a process for appealing university decisions on public records requests . . .Received presentations on health care projects at UAA, and reports on the activities of the Professional Education Coordinating Committee and the Rural Educators Pardtnership Program.