Voice

Shaping Alaska’s Future – What’s your part going forward?

The UA Board of Regents has officially adopted the Shaping Alaska’s Future initiative as board policy and a new booklet outlining the effort has been mailed to every UA employee.

Academic Affairs and Public Affairs have teamed up to revamp the SAF website at www.shapingalaskasfuture.edu. From there you can find a cool new video that helps set the stage for why the university is doing Shaping, including some of the challenges before us, such as low high-school graduation rates, low college-going rates and fairly low college completion rates compared to our peers.

But as a UA employee, what does all this mean to you? What’s next?

For starters, read the booklet. Employees of any organization should be familiar with their institution’s strategic plan. While President Gamble doesn’t like to use the word “plan” (it invokes images of documents gathering dust on a bookshelf) that’s another way of looking at Shaping Alaska’s Future—a plan.

We’ve also called it a roadmap. In fact, the inside of the booklet states: “Shaping Alaska’s Future is our map for navigating the challenging terrain ahead, and it will guide decisions about people, programs and resources at UA for years to come.”

This means if you have ideas about hiring a new position, creating a new program or deleting an existing one, or making suggestions involving budget and resources, it’s best to think about ways those ideas and suggestions align with Shaping Alaska’s Future.  

The booklet lists, under five themes, the 23 most challenging issues we face as a university system, and the 23 corresponding effects we intend to achieve. Each effect statement is, essentially, a goal we’ve collectively agreed we must attain. If for any reason you didn’t receive the printed booklet at your home mailing address, you can find it here: http://www.alaska.edu/files/shapingalaskasfuture/SAF-FINAL.pdf

How do you see yourself, in your position at UA, influencing the actions or initiatives that would bring us closer to each effect? Maybe this doesn’t seem all that important to you, or maybe you’re in the thick of it, offering suggestions and ideas. Perhaps you’re somewhere in between.

Academic and Public Affairs have teamed up to randomly select a few UA employees from across the system that we’re featuring on the Shaping Alaska’s Future website. We’ve asked them to read the plan, tell us a little bit about themselves, and how they see themselves contributing to the “shaping” dialogue. Check out this feature on the Shaping website and think about ways where you, too, could help, as the president says, “move the needle” toward the outcomes we seek. People of UA.

Random UA Person #3

Academic and Public Affairs have teamed up to randomly select a few UA employees from across the system that we’re featuring on the Shaping Alaska’s Future website. We’ve asked them to read the plan, tell us a little bit about themselves, and how they see themselves contributing to the “shaping” dialogue. Check out this feature on the Shaping website and think about ways where you, too, could help, as the president says, “move the needle” toward the outcomes we seek. People of UA.

Shaping Alaska’s Future in action

While the Board of Regents may have only adopted Shaping Alaska’s Future in April, the university has been working on a number of initiatives that rightfully belong under the SAF umbrella.

Here’s a quick snapshot of some achievements we can claim thus far, organized by each of the five Shaping themes:

Student Achievement and Attainment

  • Approx. 4,500 degrees, certificates and endorsements awarded in FY14, a sustained record high number of degrees over the last two years
  • Mandatory Student Advising in place, thanks to $1.84 million state investment FY13-FY15
  • More full-time students are taking heavier credit loads, leading to greater success. Fall 2010 to Fall 2013, 15 percent of full-time students took 15+ credits due to Stay on TRACK, mandatory advising, DegreeWorks, etc.
  • Board approved in April a request to the Faculty Alliance to develop common general education requirements for math and English by fall semester 2016, along with a plan for the other GERs in the future. This step will better serve students who take classes from more than one university or who transfer between universities.  

Productive Partnerships with Alaska’s Schools

  • UAS now delivers Alaska Performance Scholarship eligible courses statewide through the Alaska Learning Network. This is helpful to rural school districts who may not have the teachers available to provide the APS curriculum. See http://www.eed.state.ak.us/news/releases/2013/AKLN_release_July_2013.pdf
  • Kenai Peninsula College has expanded its dual credit program, JumpStart.
  • For only the second time in 10 years, the UA Board of Regents met jointly with the Alaska State Board of Education to discuss issues of mutual importance. Teacher education rose to the top. Expect more to come from this ongoing dialogue.

Productive Partnerships with Public Entities and Private Industries

  • The university, along with partners in the fisheries, seafood and maritime industries along with numerous state agencies, completed the first-ever Alaska Maritime Workforce Plan this spring, which outlines the jobs most in need for Alaska’s waters and coastal communities.
  • UAA is partnering with Willamette University College of Law to offer an accelerated “3+3” program for Alaska students interested in pursuing a law school education.
  • UAF is partnering with Colorado State University on a “2+2” program in veterinary medicine, for Alaska students interested in pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine.

Research & Development (R&D) and Scholarship to Enhance Alaska’s Communities and Economic Growth

  • Citations of UA research on arctic topics leads not only the nation, but the entire world, an analysis by UAF has shown.  
  • The first intellectual property licensing payment, $10,000 from Nanook Innovation Corp., will go to UA researchers, an important step in commercializing university intellectual property
  • UA collaborated with numerous partners to develop the first-ever Alaska State Science and Technology Plan  
  • The first annual UAA Faculty Research & Creative Activity Symposium will be held Sept. 5-8, 2014. See: http://uaainnovate.blogspot.com/

Accountability to the People of Alaska

  • UA partnered with the legislature to support the University Building Fund—a more efficient approach to using space and facilities
  • UAF’s renovation of the Wood Center represents the first public-private-partnership, or P3, for the university, an innovative approach to funding services for students.
  • Continued electronic process improvements, such as the new travel expense management program, electronic timesheets and ongoing effort to incentivize employee participation in automatic payroll deposit, eliminate waste and cut down on personnel costs
  • Prioritization processes ongoing at Statewide and all UA campuses—recognition of budget challenges ahead.
  • UA health-care costs have actually gone down, systemwide. Leadership believes our investment in wellness and supporting healthy lifestyles is a leading factor.
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