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State of the University

UA president tells Alaskans to be confident in the university

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen told Anchorage community leaders in his annual State of the University address that Alaskans should have confidence in the university to deliver on its promise to meet the state’s future workforce needs and take pride in the students who are working to populate that future workforce.

Speaking at Commonwealth North’s monthly luncheon, Johnsen emphasized the university ’s important role in innovation and entrepreneurship, announcing that the University of Alaska Fairbanks will launch a new business incubator aimed at linking entrepreneurs and inventors to university researchers who can assist by developing prototypes to move ideas into the private sector. The Center for Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship (Center ICE) at UAF “is an innovation hub designed to accelerate innovation, promote economic diversification, and encourage entrepreneurialism in the University of Alaska system,” he said. The first Center ICE class will consist of five university spinoff companies and 10 individual innovators and entrepreneurs. Similar initiatives are being developed at UAA and UAS. In fact, earlier this month, Johnsen announced the first President’s Innovation Challenge for students at UAA encouraging them to partner with an Anchorage business and use innovation to solve a community problem.

Johnsen said Alaskans should be confident in the university because it is developing these innovative programs along with middle colleges for high school students and programs focused on science, math and engineering for Alaska Native students.

“We are working… with school districts and the state Dept. of Education to increase student success, college readiness and college-going,” he said, adding that the university has made it a goal to create a culture in Alaska that values education.

Speaking to the ongoing budget cuts UA has sustained for four straight years, Johnsen said the university is a wise investment. “For every $1 the state gives us, we generate another $2 (in economic activity). In research, we generate $4.”

The university , he said, has demonstrated it can make tough decisions, pointing to the 37 percent in reductions to statewide administration, wage freezes, a 32 percent reduction in travel, the improved transferability of course credits across our campuses, consolidation of programs and efficiencies made to employee health care costs.

Looking forward, he said, the university has a plan for helping Alaska meet its needs in creating a better life for Alaska families and communities. But, he said, the university needs state support.

“Now more than ever, it’s up to us. Do we continue to disinvest in the University of Alaska, with only negative consequences for our state ? Or do we follow the lead of our founders – and of every successful state and nation in history – and invest in our university , and in a culture that values the education of our people?”

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Watch a video of the address HERE.

The text of the 2018 address is available here: TEXT

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