Board of Regents November meeting actions
November 6, 2020
Board of Regents takes proactive steps to address racial justice at UA, agrees to upper level and graduate tuition increases at UAF, and approves operating and capital budgets for FY22
The University of Alaska Board of Regents set a high priority on UA’s commitment to racial diversity, equity and inclusion during its Nov. 6 meeting. The board unanimously adopted a motion that directs the university president to take the steps necessary to understand the university climate and academic programming, and identify the barriers, challenges and opportunities to improve participation and outcomes for Alaska Native and Indigenous students, faculty, and staff.
In recent weeks, university leadership has been meeting with several groups concerned about racial injustice and institutional bias, and has been discussing a review similar to the one the regents have now officially requested. The board asked for a report assessing these issues, including data and all other relevant information so that it can provide informed direction to address them. The report is due to the board by its June 2021 meeting.
“We understand and agree that in order to create meaningful change, we must develop a comprehensive, consistent plan with benchmarks that supports our Alaska Native faculty and students and all faculty and students of color,” said UA Interim President Pat Pitney.
In other action, the board approved an operating budget that reflects the amount established in a three-year compact agreement with Governor Mike Dunleavy, and passed a fiscal year 2022 state appropriation request of $257 million — $20 million less than the current fiscal year. Regents also approved a limited capital budget request that includes funding for necessary deferred maintenance, debt relief, and COVID-related impacts.
“The University of Alaska has dealt with state budget reductions totaling $120 million, one third of its base funding, since fiscal year 2014.” Pitney said. “As we move forward, UA will continue to offer a solid core foundation of quality programs on which our communities, the state and industries can depend. UA’s programs are fundamental to Alaska’s economic recovery. We are dedicated to educating Alaskans for the jobs that support diversification and growth of the economy. UA has managed the dramatic reductions and seeks support from industry, community, and state leaders for stability after the compact.”
Pitney is prioritizing the importance of the programs across the three universities — UAF, UAA, and UAS — and started the board meeting with the new “Did You Know” series designed to highlight the breadth, excellence, and collaboration of the programs across the UA system. The presentation focused on the growth of the engineering programs and a video highlighting the personal success story of engineering alum Ben Kellie [UAF '10].
“Our goal is to keep university stakeholders informed about our key role in changing lives and shaping the state's economy,” Pitney said. “These personal stories illustrate the university's many successes and the vital and profound impact it has on graduates, industry and Alaska’s economy."
The board agreed to explore differentiated tuition rates recognizing the different missions of UA’s three universities. Specifically, the board agreed to a higher tuition rate for upper division and graduate level classes at UAF beginning in the fall of 2021. The increase brings UAF more in line with the tuition rates levied at peer research universities in the western states. There was no tuition increase proposed for either UAA or UAS or for lower division classes at UAF.
The board acknowledged the impact of private giving after the recent fundraising effort UA Giving Day raised nearly $700,000 for programs and scholarships from more than 1,100 donors. Increasing private support for the university is another component of the compact with the governor as a means to diversify revenue and become less reliant on state funding.
The board unanimously approved resolutions of appreciation for Regents Dale Anderson and Gloria O’Neill whose eight-year terms will end in early 2021. Board members and university leaders thanked them for their leadership, service and many contributions to the university.
In board officer elections for the coming year, all regents were elected to continue in their current roles: Sherri Buretta chair, Karen Perdue vice chair, Dale Anderson secretary and Lisa Parker treasurer.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents is an 11-member volunteer board, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Alaska Legislature. Members serve an eight-year term, with the exception of the student regent who is nominated from one of the three universities and serves a two-year term. The Board was established through the Alaska Constitution and is responsible for University of Alaska policy and management through the University President.