Regents' Recap

September 2009

Peter Finn, Coalition of Student Leaders Speaker and Union of Students of UAA Senator, urges the UA Board of Regents to consider a more modest tuition increase than the one ultimately approved.

UA Regents approve programs, set tuition at two-day Juneau meeting

JUNEAU---The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved several new academic programs at the Sept. 24-25, 2009 meeting, including undergraduate certificates in ethnobotany and environmental studies, a graduate certificate in construction management, bachelor degree programs in nutrition and dietetics, and a certificate in corrections.

Wrapping up its two-day meeting at the University of Alaska Southeast, the board also:

  • Approved tuition rates for the 2011-2012 academic year, at $154 per credit at most UA institutions for lower-level courses (100- and 200-level classes) and $187 per credit for upper-division courses;
  • Approved schematic design for the first phase of a renovation project of the Science Building on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, estimated at $2.6 million, the funding for which is already in hand;
  • Approved a new site for a proposed energy technology building at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, estimated to cost $29.6 million, with funding still to be secured;
  • Gave formal project approval for plumbing and shower repairs at Skarland Hall at UAF, at an estimated $3.8 million. Funding for that project is still to be determined;
  • Gave formal project approval for student housing renovations at Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez, estimated at nearly $4 million. Funding for the project comes from a federal grant. The project allows numerous upgrades to sewer, electrical systems, weatherization, security upgrades and other improvements.

The ethnobotany degree will be delivered at Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel. It will provide rural students with scientific training leading to entry level employment in natural and cultural resource management at local and regional offices, within both the private and public sectors. The environmental studies certificate also targets rural and Native students through the Bristol Bay Campus in Dillingham.

The degree programs in nutrition and dietetics will build on UAA’s health-care career education and training niche. Alaska has been the only state in the nation without a baccalaureate degree in nutrition or dietetics, forcing institutions and agencies to contract with professionals outside Alaska.

The graduate certificate in construction management at UAF is intended for graduate engineers or other professionals in the Alaska construction workforce. The state Department of Transportation supports advanced training for engineers and other professionals; both UAA and UAF offer associate degrees in construction management and UAA has a bachelor’s program.

The undergraduate certificate in corrections will be offered through Kenai Peninsula College, at both its Soldotna and Homer campuses. The state Department of Corrections supports the program. While UAA and UAF offer bachelor and master’s degrees in justice, there had not been an entry level program in corrections previously.

The tuition proposal drew interest from student government leaders and students, who advocated for lower increases along with wage increases for student jobs on campuses across the state. The student groups also called for increased financial aid for Alaska, which lags other states nationally.

The issue drew thoughtful discussion amongst board members. Ultimately, the tuition rate was approved on a 6-3 vote.

A majority of board members said numerous improvements made throughout the 16-campus system, including new faculty hires and new programs offered to students, necessitates tuition at the 5 and 10 percent levels. Including this latest increase, UA tuition is a good deal compared to the 15 Western states, and is less than about half of them. Improvements throughout the UA system in the last 11 years have led to an increased number of Alaska students choosing to remain in-state for postsecondary education or workforce training.

Undergraduate tuition for a full-time student taking 15 courses per semester runs about $4,500 currently, depending on the mix of classes. Using that same example, it is set to go to $4,755 starting in the fall 2010 semester. Under the proposal approved by the Board of Regents at the September meeting, tuition will go to $5,115 starting in fall 2011. That amount is still less than the current average of the 15 Western states.

By policy, UA as a public system takes the unusual step of setting tuition two years in advance of rates taking effect, providing students plenty of advance notice. In addition, student governments
are notified five months prior to the scheduled vote.


Tlingit language programs receive support

Marie Olson
Tlingit elder and UAS alumna Marie Olson addresses the UA Board of Regents during the recent meeting at the Egan Library on the UAS campus. Olson spoke in favor of the PITAAS program (Preparing Indigenous Teachers & Administrators for Alaska Schools) and Tlingit language writing courses. She also spoke in favor of Wooch.een, a student club at UAS that encourages education and support of Alaska Native culture on campus. Said Olson, "I can't think of a much more beautiful place for a campus than Auke Lake."

Juneau Mayor Welcomes Regents

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho welcomes members of the UA Board of Regents and UA staff to Juneau during a brief address during the public comment section of the two-day September meeting.

Regents lunch with Gov. Parnell

The Board of Regents, UA President Mark Hamilton and Vice President for University Relations Wendy Redman lunched with Gov. Sean Parnell and First Lady Sandy Parnell at the Governor's Mansion in Juneau on Friday, Sept. 25.

Participants reported the lunch meeting was productive and cordial. The university plays an important role in the governor's priorities for economic and resource development in the state. Board members talked to Gov. Parnell about the UA system's forthcoming operating and capital budget requests. They said the governor was attentive, asked thoughtful questions and indicated support within financial realities. Maintaining existing buildings is the governor's top priority on the capital side of the budget, which is also the board's No. 1 priority as well.

Pictured above, from left to right, are Gov. Parnell and First Lady Sandy Parnell; Regents Kirk Wickersham, Carl Marrs, Pat Jacobson, Bob Martin, Ken Fisher, Fuller Cowell, Cynthia Henry, Ashton Compton, President Hamilton and Regent Mary Hughes.

Regents approve new staff salary grid

The Board of Regents approved a new staff salary grid structure based on 1 percent increments, which will result in positions being renumbered on the new grid system starting in June 2010. For more information on this, see http://www.alaska.edu/hr/9.28.09-BOR-Approval-of-Grid-Change-memo.pdf.