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Caribou at the Large Animal Research Station walk up to see who's come to visit. Photo by Monique Musick

System News December 2017

  • Happy Holidays from President Johnsen
  • Message from President Johnsen on FY19 Budget
  • Message from President Johnsen regarding tax reform
  • Title IX in 2017 - VRA overview
  • UA's "Start Here" campaign hits the big screen
  • The UA College Savings Plan has two exciting new enhancements

Happy Holidays from President Johnsen

Dear UA community,

The holiday season is a natural time for reflection and celebration. As I reflect on this past year, I am reminded of those who have helped the university along its journey and contributed so selflessly to the betterment of our students. I am thankful for each of you and express my deepest appreciation for your support and commitment as we work to create a culture of education in our state. 

Please take time during the holiday break for your own reflection as you prepare for a new year and new beginnings. I hope the treasured time with family and friends becomes your fondest memories in the new year. And as you do every year, keep in mind our first responders, our military and all those who serve our community and our country. 

Wishing you a wonderful holiday, a relaxing break, and may the joy of this season extend to you and yours throughout the New Year.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year,

Jim Johnsen

Message from President Johnsen on FY19 Budget

Today, Governor Walker released his Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget and proposed a $317 million state appropriation for the University of Alaska as well as a proposal to fund $70 million toward our deferred facility maintenance.

I appreciate that the Governor is addressing our extensive deferred maintenance backlog, however I am concerned about the prospect of a status quo operating budget. A status quo budget will compound the negative impacts of four straight years of budget cuts, and limits our ability to make much needed investments in student education, training programs, and the economic development our state needs.

The Board of Regents’ operating budget request of $341 million would restore a portion of these recent cuts and fund a strong strategic plan focused on economic development, workforce development, research, and educational attainment. The simple truth is that, in state after state and nation after nation, a growing university is required for a strong economy, higher incomes, better health at a lower cost, less crime, and lower cost of incarceration. The University of Alaska—in partnership with our K-12 and industry partners—is the single best investment we can make in our state’s future.

This is just the first step in the appropriation process, and we will continue to engage with legislators and the governor throughout the session. We will work to highlight our success, provide timely information, activate our key stakeholders, press our message and keep you updated often on our progress.

Jim Johnsen

Message from President Johnsen regarding tax reform

Dear UA Colleagues –

In the coming days, a conference committee will convene to begin the reconciliation of the two tax reform bills that recently passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. I continue to engage with our congressional leaders urging them to protect the interests of the university. 

In a recent letter to Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young, both of whom will serve as members of the conference committee, I urged them to work with their fellow conferees to protect the education tax provisions slated for elimination in the House version of the tax reform bill. Specifically, I advocated for retention of the student loan interest deduction, employer provided tuition assistance, university employee tuition assistance, graduate-level tuition assistance, and the lifetime learning credit.

Collectively, these provisions help our students reduce costs and they most certainly improve access to higher education for thousands of Alaskans. Eliminating them will decrease educational attainment in Alaska and impede the development of the highly-skilled workforce we need to move Alaska’s economy forward.

I know the choices facing our elected officials are difficult. Yet it is critical that the final version of the bill preserves each of these important higher education provisions. I will continue to advocate for the university’s position and make the case that in today’s environment of increasing college costs and rising levels of student debt, we should do everything possible to encourage Alaskans to complete their educational goals. This will help them in terms of their incomes and other important aspects of their lives, and it will help our state develop and diversify our economy.

Sincerely,

Jim Johnsen

UA's "Start Here" campaign hits the big screen

Last month we announced the launch of a new enrollment marketing campaign to promote the university. Radio and television ads encourage visiting the new website www.alaska.edu/starthere to find out how to enroll at each of our universities.

The television ads are also playing in theaters before some of the season's biggest movies. To view the ad click HERE.

Title IX in 2017 - VRA overview

The University of Alaska has worked to implement dramatic changes this year in the way we respond to, track, and train our community about sexual harassment prevention and sexual violence. Guided by the terms of the Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the university system is addressing and correcting Title IX compliance issues. The VRA outlined specific steps to improve safety and the campus climate throughout the University of Alaska system. Title IX staff and campus leadership have made those changes, and are implementing systemic improvements in many critical areas. MORE....

The UA College Savings Plan has two exciting new enhancements

The UA College Savings Plan launched a new, online gifting portal! Participants can use this portal to easily create a customized gifting website for each beneficiary. Once you’ve set up the page, you can share it with friends and on social media to encourage the gift of college savings. Anyone using the free, gifting website can transfer funds from their bank account directly into the designated college savings account.  All gifts given through the portal may be used for tuition, room, board and all other eligible expenses. Log into your account today to create your gifting profiles!

It is now possible to automatically save 100% of your Permanent Fund Dividend! Prior to completing the dividend application, fill out and mail in the PFD Direct Deposit Form. Then, when you fill out your PFD application, answer “yes” to question six, to contribute the first half of your PFD. To contribute the second half, enter the routing and account number provided on the PFD Direct Deposit Form into the direct deposit section of your PFD application. After completing this process once, the second half of the PFD will go into the college savings account every year, or until you change your direct deposit information. If you have any questions, please contact us at (907) 474-5671.

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