President Pitney highlights UA research, workforce programs and support for Alaska’s economic recovery in presentation to the Resource Development Council

March 4, 2021

Interim President Pat Pitney gave an update to the Resource Development Council on the university system’s industry-focused programs, land grant initiative, work in the Arctic and the university budget. The Thursday breakfast presentation focused on the university and the work we are doing to contribute to Alaska’s economic well-being.

Some of the themes followed those included in the State of the University Address, but extra emphasis was placed on resource development and the programs across the UA system including engineering, mining, process technology, fisheries and marine science, welding, and many others that support Alaska’s resource industries as well as noting how those industries also require the wide array of trained workers in business, human resources, communications, safety and health.

She highlighted a series of industry reports recently completed in partnership with the Alaska  Dept. of Labor. The reports demonstrate UA graduate outcomes in nine key fields -- administration and finance, aviation, construction, fisheries and marine science, health, information technology, mining, oil and gas, and teacher education.The data shows that 70 to 90 percent of UA graduates work in state, and demonstrates how degree attainment impacts wage earnings. Particular focus was placed on the process technology programs at UAF and KPC, engineering programs at UAA and UAF, mining programs at UAF and UAS and fisheries and maritime programs at UAF and UAS.

Other presentation highlights included our success in acquiring competitive research grants, our strength in Arctic research, engineering research beneficial to Alaska industries, our strong UAV programs, energy power research, and how the depth of expertise in Arctic, climate change, earth systems modeling, whether for strategic defense, infrastructure development such as for the oil industry given the melting permafrost, or strategic minerals mining, puts UA in the perfect position to remain competitive given current national priorities.

She also discussed the Alaska Native Success initiative, UA Land Grant resolution effort, and the upcoming UA Foundation philanthropic campaign. She noted how Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development groups can help communicate the importance of stability for UA and its role in our state’s economic recovery and thanked our industry partners for working with the university on advisory councils, by providing internships and training opportunities to our students, investing in our training programs and hiring our graduates.

Changing the dialog around higher education is critical, she told the council members. Our biggest competitor is not outside colleges - it’s the hundreds and thousands of Alaskans who do not seek any post-secondary education at all. She asked them to help by carrying our message and setting expectations within their workplaces and organizations that education (which also means technical training) is important. Also to demand stability in state support for the university so we can focus on building enrollment in our academic and degree programs that are so essential to our state’s economic recovery.

Lastly, she asked those assembled to have confidence in our state’s future, and have confidence in the university’s programs.