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BOR April Recap

President Gamble speaks with KPC Director Gary Turner and Clayton Brockel, founding director of Kenai Community College, following the dedication of a plaque in honor of Brockel during the BOR meeting April 12. Photo by Monique Musick

Regents enjoyed spring meeting at Kenai Peninsula College

Regents Approve New Academic Programs at UAS, UAA

The University of Alaska Board of Regents wrapped up a two-day meeting Friday in Soldotna by approving two new special education degrees and an associate degree in sonography.

The board approved a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education and Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education, both at the University of Alaska Southeast; and an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Diagnostic Sonography at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The two special education degrees intend to fill a critical shortage of such teachers in Alaska. The bachelor’s in special education, a 120-credit undergraduate degree, is expected to attract more than 30 students within four years. The master’s degree in special education is a 39-credit graduate degree program designed for students who previously earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, but do not yet have an Alaska teaching certificate. It’s expected to attract a dozen students by its second year.

The programs will be available beginning in fall 2012 through e-learning (online). No other UA campus offers those degree options.

The associate degree in sonography at UAA also is in response to Alaska’s workforce needs, with a reported 20 percent vacancy rate in the field. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work in a variety of health care settings, from doctors’ offices to medical centers. Currently, students must attend school outside of Alaska to receive an education in the field of sonography. The program is expected to attract 10 students within the first year.

The April board meeting has become a favorite of the 11-member board, as it’s traditionally held at one of the community and rural campuses. Board members see first hand the tremendous impact the UA System has throughout the state, especially in smaller communities.

Board members heard from student after student about the importance of the education and training they receive through Kenai Peninsula College, including one adult student with a learning disability who is looking forward to earning her GED next month. She told the board that KPC’s staff and professors have been instrumental in getting her the help she needed.

Alicia Itta, a KPC student from Barrow, said the “family feel” of the campus and supportive staff helped lessen the cultural shock of moving from her small Arctic community to the Kenai Peninsula.

“The teachers and staff are so caring and everyone is willing to help each student equally. Every day, they provide motivation to help us succeed,” Itta said.  “I’m very excited that KPC is building dorms for future students from out of state and rural areas.”

Board members attended a ceremonial groundbreaking for not only the student housing project at KPC, but also for the new Career and Technical Education Center. Both projects were approved by voters in a 2010 general obligation bond, and will add tremendously to the size of the campus and service to students.  Regents also attended the unveiling of a plaque honoring the campus’ founding director, Clayton Brockel, who was in attendance along with his wife Jean.

Campus officials had fun during a Thursday luncheon presentation to the board, at one point highlighting the paramedic training program at the college by “calling out” an ambulance and having EMT students rush into the meeting room at the Ward Building with a gurney.  A community reception Thursday evening allowed board members the opportunity to meet members of the KPC advisory council.

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