The Board of Regents of the University of Alaska unanimously approved a 3-year contract with the Alaska Community Colleges' Federation of Teachers (ACCFT), which represents approximately 200 faculty members teaching lower division and vocational education courses throughout the University system. This action followed an announcement from Bob Congdon, President of ACCFT, that the membership of ACCFT had overwhelmingly ratified the contract on September 28-29, and stated that he looked forward to a positive working relationship with the University. Board members and University President Mark Hamilton expressed their appreciation for the work done by the ACCFT and University bargaining teams and for their professionalism and dedication in reaching this agreement. The 3-year contract, in effect from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2003, is subject to legislative approval and funding during the next session.
President Hamilton reported with enthusiasm the great success of the University of Alaska Scholars Program, the first line of defense against Alaska's brain drain. Out of 781 eligible high school graduates, 271 have enrolled at a campus of the University of Alaska. This demonstrates that the scholarship is a great incentive for high school graduates to apply to and enroll at the University of Alaska. Of those who enrolled, 81 percent are seeking a bachelor's degree and 15 percent are enrolled in associate degree programs. Systemwide, Biological Sciences/Life Sciences degrees proved to be the most popular; at UAA, there was also high enrollment in Business and Health programs and at UAF, Engineering and Education programs took second and third place. Twenty-five percent of those enrolled have yet to declare a major.
On Thursday, the Board spent most of the day learning about academic programs at sites around the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. That evening, after viewing the Aviation Complex's flight and traffic control simulators, they met with business and industry leaders to discuss ways to increase "Connections to the Community."
Regents heard presentations by faculty and staff of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the UAA School of Nursing on Friday. The presentations, which members of the Board requested, highlighted the importance of fisheries research and the urgent need for more nurses and other health professionals throughout Alaska.
After viewing a presentation regarding the University of Alaska Museum, the Board approved the schematic design for the building's expansion project. During its meeting on November 18-19 in Fairbanks, the Board has asked to see the model of the expanded museum which will be on display in the UA Museum at that time.
The Board reviewed the first draft of the results of an Employee Opinion Survey of non-union staff conducted by McDowell Group last month. A similar survey was done in August 1998. Comparisons to the 1998 survey were very positive in most areas revealing increases in confidence in system direction, confidence in campus direction, job security, and system demonstration of employee importance. Areas where employees still have concerns included accuracy of job evaluation forms, adequacy of the overall benefits package, and clarity of supervisor expectations. President Hamilton stated his deep commitment to addressing these concerns and told the Board he will be sending a letter with the results of the survey to the staff within the month.
The Regents received notice of the tuition rates, as adjusted for inflation based on the Higher Education Price Index, which are scheduled to go into effect in the summer of 2001. They agreed to defer any action on tuition until the administration has an opportunity to consider other options and discuss those options within the university community. The Board will consider tuition proposals at its February 2000 meeting.