Regents conclude busy, successful December meeting
FAIRBANKS--The University of Alaska Board of Regents at the Dec. 9-10 meeting approved tuition rates for the 2012-2013 school year, well in advance so students have maximum time to plan.
Students praised UA President Pat Gamble for the tuition-setting process used this year, which involved students and other stakeholders through an advisory task force. The proposal Gamble put forward, a 7 percent increase for all undergraduate tuition rates and a 3 percent increase for graduate rates for the 2012-2013 academic year, represents a consensus of the task force. The rate is the minimum the multi-campus system predicts it will need to help balance its budget for FY2013. Internal reallocations, continued cost-saving measures and increasing other revenue sources will play a major role as well.
Student government leaders proposed the 7 percent rate last fall. Several student leaders urged board members to keep graduate tuition static, and not increase it by 3 percent. Student Regent Ashton Compton of Fairbanks proposed an amendment to forgo the graduate tuition increase but it didn’t garner enough votes to pass.
The advisory task force on tuition and affordability includes community campus directors, budget and finance planners as well as students. The task force will continue to meet, UA officials said.
“All of us on the board are really pleased with the way the different groups came together and hammered this out,” said Regent Tim Brady of Anchorage.
UA tuition revenue covers about half the actual instructional costs; the rest is subsidized by state general funds.
Like all other public and private employers across the nation, the UA System faces continuing challenges with steep rises in health-care costs for its 4,500 benefits eligible employees despite cost-containment efforts that have included cutting back on certain benefits and requiring employees to pay more into the plan. The university, with much input from employees, is currently analyzing numerous proposals designed to slow the rate of health-care increases in the future.
In other business, the board approved a number of campus construction and maintenance projects, some funded by the recent voter-approved general obligation bond. Projects approved include a high-bay test module for UAF’s Alaska Center for Energy and Power, at $4.7 million; renovation and campus upgrades at Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez, at $5 million; phased-in pedestrian and traffic improvements at the University of Alaska Southeast Auke Lake campus, at $4.3 million; an addition to Mat-Su College for paramedic and nursing labs and classrooms, at $3.5 million; and renovations for the Career and Technical Education Center at UAS Sitka Campus, at $3.4 million.
Board members also approved a 10-year capital improvement plan, a new student government fee at the Kuskokwim Campus, reviewed audited financial statements and heard reports on revisions to UA's academic master plan (see above photo), technology transfer, development, performance measures, land management, athletics and the UA Foundation.
The meeting was the last regular one for Fairbanks regents Cynthia Henry and Erik Drygas. Gov. Sean Parnell is expected to appoint new regents by early February, when their terms expire. Drygas, who served out a partial term of a former regent, has expressed a desire to be reappointed to a full term.
Both Henry and Drygas received standing ovations after resolutions of appreciation were read aloud at the meeting. The resolutions lauded them for their service and efforts on behalf of students, faculty and staff at the University of Alaska.
The board also elected Regent Fuller Cowell of Anchorage to serve as chair of the board. Pat Jacobson of Kodiak is vice chair and Bob Martin of Juneau is secretary. Kirk Wickersham of Anchorage is treasurer.
Reception at President's House honors outgoing regents
Thanks and farewell
President Gamble thanks regents Drygas and Henry for their years of service on the all-volunteer, 11-member UA Board of Regents.
The Board of Regents is the governing body of the 16-campus UA System, which offers programs for approximately 30,000 students. Meetings are held across the state on a rotating basis; at least one meeting per year is held at a community campus.
Resolution of Appreciation -- Regent Erik Drygas
Regent Pat Jacobson of Kodiak reads aloud the Resolution of Appreciation for Regent Erik Drygas.
Regent Mary Hughes of Anchorage presents outgoing Regent Erik Drygas with a gift on behalf of the UA Administration.
Regent Drygas admires his gift, a bone carving.
Resolution of Appreciation -- Regent Cynthia Henry
Newly elected board Chair Fuller Cowell of Anchorage reads aloud a Resolution of Appreciation for Regent Cynthia Henry.
Cynthia and husband Ken Henry open a gift from the UA Administration.
Cynthia and Ken Henry display the departing gift, a scenic oil painting.
Pianist Mallory Bernstein performed a 15-minute piece at the president's reception honoring regents Drygas and Henry.
Bernstein received her bachelor's degree in piano performance from Ithaca College and is finishing her master's degree this year at UAF, where she studies with Eduard Zilberkant.