UA Strategic Direction Update
SDI Theme: Productive Partnerships With Alaska's Public & Private Industries
For forty-one years a partnership between five northwestern states (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) has allowed students from each state to enroll in publically supported medical education at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Simply known as WWAMI, this partnership continues to evolve.
Recently SDI sat down with UAA Interim Dean of the College of Health, Bill Hogan, to discuss this unique partnership. According to Hogan, the partnership is on a track that will affect how and where Alaskan students will be able to receive their medical education.
“There are changes that are happening within the WWAMI medical curriculum that will have a big affect on future Alaskan medical students. Right now, medical students have the opportunity to spend their first year of study in Alaska. The second year, they go to Seattle to study at University of Washington School of Medicine. The third and fourth years can be spent anywhere in the WWAMI region.
By 2015, it will be possible for an Alaskan medical student to spend all four years of medical school in Alaska. I believe that this will make a big difference for the state. Hopefully it will mean that more future Alaskan physicians will practice medicine in their home state of Alaska. We could never get to this point without the close partnership we’ve developed with the University of Washington, “ Said Hogan.
SDI Theme: Student Achievement & Attainment
The first few weeks of the Fall Semester are important for all UA students. SDI recently caught up with Shauna Thornton, Speaker for the University of Alaska Coalition of Student Leaders, to talk about some of the challenges students on her campus are facing.
SDI: You were at the July 23 Strategic Direction Initiative Planning Session. During the session there was a lot of discussion about advising, and, in particular, about communicating expectations to students more effectively. First, your thoughts on the discussion about those issues during the meeting.
Thornton : “I think that we all want to achieve the same results, however, we (students) have a little different perspective in terms of getting there. The perspective we have has a lot to do with access to advisors, especially at the beginning of the semester.”
Thornton : “I look at my financial aid and scholarship opportunities like they are a part of my job description as a student. The information is at UA Online and it’s my job to get my paperwork in so I have the best chance for the funding I need to continue my education. Some of the problems that some students are experiencing center on having to request a financial aid appeal and (in addition) the long wait for the funding to arrive. Those kinds of issues can slow the process down. I’m not sure who to go to, but it would benefit students if the entire application process (including appeals) were more streamlined and user friendly.”
Thornton: “I canvassed other students at the KPC (Kenai River Campus) about this question, and right now, I would have to say that it’s the petitioning and transfer credit process.”
Thornton : “Right… the biggest concern is timeliness for transfer credit evaluation. A lot depends on whether transcripts from other institutions are provided in time.
Another issue has to do with Pell Grant applications. If a student does not have an academic plan and is over the credit allotment for the grant, they are probably not going to qualify.
I can’t stress the importance of having an academic plan. I would also stress the importance of staying connected to UA Online and with your advisor. A lot of information about grant, scholarship or financial aid status will be on the student’s site.”
SDI Theme: Student Achievement & Attainment
UAA Registrar, Lora Volden, recently spent time with SDI explaining how DegreeWorks can actually help a student navigate through their higher education journey.
Volden- “Right off the bat, DegreeWorks is accessible to students 24/7. Students are able to see (at a moment’s notice) what their degree requirements are. DegreeWorks also provides a “What if” feature that allows a student to ask questions like, “what if I added a minor”, or “what if I changed my major”? Students can actually see what overall impact those kinds of questions might have before they make any big decisions. This feature really does allow students to plan better.
Accessibility to DegreeWorks is key, but it is not designed to replace the role of an advisor, rather, it’s designed to provide information that allows the student to be better informed when he or she meets with an advisor. DegreeWorks also allows students to communicate more effectively with advisors through the “notes” section in the DegreeWorks planner. Advisors can answer questions or provide students with additional advice that can help them make decisions that won’t impact financial aid or keep them from staying on track. The notes also give incoming students, who already have a lot on their plate, the opportunity to go back and absorb the advice given by the advisor.”
UAA’s Registrar Office has already seen a notable increase in DegreeWorks activity this fall compared to last spring, and a software upgrade is in the works. The UAA registrar’s office hopes to have it online by summer 2013. DegreeWorks is available to students at campuses throughout the University of Alaska. Contact your advisor, or your campus Registrar’s Office to find out more.
SDI Theme: Productive Partnerships With Alaska's Schools
President Gamble Addresses "Educating our Future Workforce" at Commonwealth North Forum...
Recently, President Gamble participated in the Commonwealth North Forum in Anchorage. The topic focused on the question: "What product was Alaska getting from the state's education system?"
President Gamble said that the University of Alaska needed to "ensure that the students who enroll in our university campuses attain their education so they can contribute to Alaska's growing workforce". He also noted that there needs to be a more concerted effort to align K12 with the Univeristy of Alaska in order to bridge the "college ready" gap that exists today.
The Anchorage Mayor's 2011-2012 Education Summitt reflected some of the issues that students, teachers, and parents face in bridging the "college ready gap" in the state's largest school district.
The Mayor's office released a short video that includes data on how students are faring. Click here to see that video clip.
SDI Theme: Research and Development to Build and Sustain Alaska’s Economic Growth
Unmanned Aerial Systems Researchers Fill the Room With Potential Public and Private Partners...
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute was at the forefront of a three-day conference dedicated to setting the goals for unmanned aircraft in the Arctic. Both public and private sector attendees were there to discuss everything from FAA airspace issues to the latest applications for these innovative unmanned aircraft.
Greg Walker, Director of the Unmanned Aircraft Program at the Poker Flat Research Range facilitated the meeting. According to Walker, unmanned aerial vehicles are already innovating strategies with industries in Alaska and beyond.
Walker said that, “The University’s Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research, Test, and Evaluation is still being developed, but it has already experienced growth in the corporate partnerships arena.”
Walker referenced partnerships with:
- Atkinson Aeronautics, a small business from Virginia consisting of 24 employees that now has a new division in Alaska focused on unmanned aircraft technology exploitation and Alaska operational opportunities.
- Concurrent Technology Corporation, a not-for-profit company that spun out of the University of Pittsburg with about 1,500 employees, currently has an employee visiting Alaska one week out of four to six seeking collaborative efforts with the University.
- Two Fairbanks startup companies: Mobile Mapping Corporation, and Polartronix LLC, who each were awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) phase I contracts have joined forces for unmanned aircraft volcanic aerosol detection from the USAF (Air Force Research Lab). These two companies missions were expanded to support this opportunity.
- Airborne Technologies Inc. of Wasilla is working under contract from UAF in support of a NOAA grant on what amounts to be an SBIR phase III award to use the small aircraft they developed under a NOAA SBIR Phase I and II to track Japanese Tsunami debris across the Pacific.
- Northern Embedded Solutions, LLC is a company that was started by three recent UAF ECE graduate students is working on the technical issues with bringing new payloads and capability to our small-unmanned system. Our partnership with them is moving well and we are helping them establish a foothold in this new industry.
To find how the Geophysical Institute Unmanned Aerial Vehicles fly, click here!
SDI Theme: Productive Partnerships With Alaska's Schools
Growing Our Own Educators...
The University of Alaska recently hosted the Alaska Teacher Education Consortium, inviting education leaders across the state to discuss how the University of Alaska can bridge the "Alaska Grown" teacher gap.
Dr. Kathryn Berry Bertram, University of Alaska K-12 Director, told the audience that, "Growing our own educators begins with inspiring and attracting students to become teachers throughout primary and secondary education. Future Educators of Alaska is a statewide initiative designed to do just that."
Dr. Bertram presented a map that outlined the Alaska educator continuum from kindergarten through graduation at one of UA's Colleges of Education. From there, a strong collaborative partnership with the school districts (Alaska Teacher Placement) can provide qualified graduates with the opportunity to teach in Alaska; and to grow in their early careers through the Alaska Statewide Mentor Project.
"The last leg of this continuum is as important as the very first part of the journey. We can grow our own leaders by offering experienced teachers the opportunity to become involved in innovation, research, and cultural training through programs like Prepares. It will give our education leaders the ability 'pay it forward' by inspiring and attracting even more Alaskan Grown Educators," Said Bertram.
To find out more about the UA "Growing our Own Educators" map, please click here.