Short-term accomplishments, long-term progress highlighted at February Regents Meeting
March 3, 2023
The University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents heard how the university plays a major role in Alaska’s current economy and future capacity for growth during its February 24 meeting. The Regents heard updates on the System’s role as an economic driver, and further refined Goals and Measures to set the system up for future success and growth including a focus on UAF becoming a tier 1 research university, an emphasis on growing enrollment across the system and developing a skilled workforce for Alaska’s industries.
"I'm pleased with the progress UA has made on our Goals and Measures, and optimistic about the future of all three universities,” Board Chair Ralph Seekins said. “I'd like to express a hearty ‘welcome’ to our new Regents, and thank them for their willingness to serve. We look forward to seeing continued positive progress under President Pitney's leadership."
Empowering Alaska - Goals & Measures
During the morning session, Regents discussed the Goals and Measures, which support systemwide dialogue to foster and build positive cross-university relationships. The metrics were revised through 2027 thanks to positive progress in key areas:
- better than expected enrollment projections across the system but especially at UAA,
- revisions to high-demand programs based on information from the Department of Labor,
- higher projected research expenditures driven by UAF,
- revised UA Foundation fundraising targets, and
- ongoing efforts of the Alaska Native Success Initiative.
“I’m pleased to say that UA has turned the corner, and is focused on empowering Alaska,” President Pitney said. “Fiscal stability is the foundation for the successes we’ve had, and fiscal stability is necessary for us to continue meeting the challenges and opportunities Alaska faces.”
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski joined briefly and praised the collaborative efforts between her office, the university, and the state to pass the University of Alaska Fiscal Foundation Act. The Act allows the university to work with DNR and BLM to more than triple UA’s current land holdings to more than 500,000 acres in future years.
In the afternoon, regents heard an update from the Director of UA Land Management Adrienne Stolpe on progress toward identifying land for conveyance to the university under this bill.
Empowering Workforce & Economic Development
During lunch, Regents heard the “Did You Know” presentation highlighting construction programs across the UA system and participated in a discussion with a panel representing the Department of Labor, industry, and university training programs. There are more than 40 programs directly linked to the construction industry from carpentry to surveying, heavy-duty equipment to welding, and civil engineering to project and construction management. These programs range from short-term certificates to four-year degrees and beyond, and are designed with industry input to provide skills needed for employment or career advancement. Graduates from UA's construction management programs earn more than $114,500 within 10 years, a growth of 32% from first year earnings, and well above the Alaska average wage of $56,600. Graduates from certificate and associate programs also show significant longer-term earnings.
To help meet healthcare workforce needs in Fairbanks, the Board approved the creation of a 1-year Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) certificate at UAF. The program has wide support in Interior Alaska, and was approved on an expedited basis thanks to healthcare industry partner support; it will be open for Fall 2023 enrollment.
Susan Bell from McKinley Research group presented an overview of UA’s economic impact. In total, the university generated $2 for every $1 received in state UGF - and its programs and services resulted in nearly $1 billion in total economic activity in FY2022, including work with over 2,600 Alaska vendors.
The Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) received the Regent’s formal approval to build a hangar at the Nenana airport. The hangar will be used as a drone testing site for ACUASI, supporting Unmanned Aircraft Systems missions between Fairbanks and Nenana. Alaska possesses the perfect environment for testing the technologies, policies, and procedures needed to conduct real-world drone cargo operations with minimal risk to people on the ground and other aircraft.
Regents also approved the Crafts & Trades Collective Bargaining Agreement, and heard reports on the Alaska Native Success Initiative and Title IX. The UA Foundation also shared UA Giving Day brought in over $1.7 million from over 1,700 donors in just 49 hours (Feb. 22-23). The Board also unanimously approved a motion supporting the Willow Project.
The next full board meeting is scheduled for May 25-26, 2023, in Fairbanks.
All meetings, with the exception of any executive sessions, are public and will be livestreamed.
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 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.