President Pitney November Town Hall Overview and Recording

November 18, 2022

On November 8, University of Alaska President Pat Pitney held a virtual Town Hall with staff, students and faculty from across the university system. The Town Hall was held in advance of the November Board of Regents meeting, and featured budget updates, leadership announcements and other issues. Pitney noted the importance of voting on election day, and recognized the many vets across the system in advance of Veterans Day.

In leadership news, she announced that Ben Shire joined the System Office from UAA to serve as the Chief Information Officer, and that Richard Schweigert is serving as interim Chief Financial Officer, as we continue to search for a new CFO. The search for a new UAS Chancellor is underway. And with National Compliance Week coming up she noted the new role that internal audit is playing in regard to developing an institutional compliance program.

In budget news, the FY24 state operating budget request includes an increase of $24 million. That includes wage increases of 2.75%. The budget also requests funding for expanding faculty capacity, and key student services areas including financial aid, student support, and other offices focused on student enrollment. Those costs are close to $5 million. Also funding for expanding WWAMI, the medical school, Alaska Native Success increases, climate science, health research, etc. 

The capital budget is focused on deferred maintenance and facility modernization. Proposed projects include the renovation of the UAF Tilly Commons, expansion of UAA health program facilities, and a new science lab on the UAS Juneau campus.

The Regents are also reviewing tuition rates, with the intention of keeping the rate flat across the system except for undergraduate tuition at the UAF Troth Yeddha research university.

Other board agenda items discussed were goals and measures, and a “Did You Know” presentation featuring Arctic Research. 

Pitney announced the upcoming launch of the Empower Alaska campaign. The message is simple. The University of Alaska, with its campuses across the state, is here to empower Alaska. Building leaders, spurring research and innovation; in short, fueling Alaska's economy. There is a landing page, It has short videos on areas such as drones, Alaska Native Success, and critical minerals. She encouraged everyone to check it out.

Following her prepared remarks, the president took questions from the crowd. Topics addressed included expansion of university pension limits, cost and availability of online courses, academic advising, workforce development, accessibility, becoming more accepting of people with disabilities and non-traditional students, Alaska Native Success, funding for Native support services, faculty support, international student needs for in-person courses, the impacts of staffing shortages and loss of subject matter experts, diversity and inclusivity, advocacy, and the importance of increasing student enrollment. 

A recording of the Town Hall is now available on the President's Communications page.