An Open Letter from UA Board of Regents Chair Jo Heckman
February 23, 2016
Dear UA Community,
My name is Jo Heckman. I am a proud alumna of our great university and serve voluntarily as the chair of your university’s Board of Regents. At the regents meeting last week in Fairbanks, we had a large number of people provide excellent testimony on a number of topics – more than 70 people provided their thoughts, concerns and suggestions.
Regents are grateful for this outpouring from those who take time out of their busy lives to come talk to us. Such engagement illustrates that people care, are passionate about our university and have the best interests of this university at heart. I am deeply appreciative to all of you who came, whether from the UA community or community at large. We are fortunate to count you as our friends and supporters, and I thank you all.
Now, I ask you to join hands together and take our message to the elected officials in Juneau. They need to hear from us all, not just the President, not just from the Regents, or the staff but from each and every one of you. After all, we are all in this together.
People often think that it’s only the job of the president, the regents and the chancellors to present our case to legislature and to preserve and procure funding for the university. That is true and we work hard on your behalf. I can tell you that President Jim Johnsen and Chancellors Tom Case, Mike Powers and Rick Caulfield and their staffs have worked many hours to provide all of the information that House Finance and the university subcommittee has requested. While these efforts have not been recognized widely, our team has pulled together to address these requests to the best of our ability.
We all need to show solidarity and join together in asking the legislators to support the university’s budget and provide us with funding that allows for us to continue providing quality education to all Alaskans. I am asking that each and every one of you write to the legislators and let them know how important your role at the university is, how important your program is, what wonderful research you are doing and how important this university is not just to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, but to all Alaska and to the nation. I am asking you to join together in a strong voice that can be heard loud and clear. I am asking for your help.
Our legislators are Alaskans who have assumed the responsibility of making sustainable decisions for our state. Their job is not easy, but when they hear from you, their constituents, it’s meaningful. I am asking for a ground swell, a grass roots effort that will rise up from all of you to take our collective message to our legislators. I have provided a link to you that will help you send your emails to all legislative officials.
You might remember what President Jim Johnsen told us back in January during his State of the University address. He said: “It takes a great university to make a great state.” I would add to that wisdom that it takes great advocates like all of you to support a great university. And we need your help now.
We need your help to convey to our lawmakers that the university needs a sound budget to provide programs that meet our state’s needs, that meet our global needs, that provides knowledge about the Arctic, that meets our workforce needs by educating trained engineers, teachers, nurses, miners, artists and technicians. The university is an integral part of diversifying our economy through commercializing the intellectual property developed through our research, through building a culture of education, and by providing quality human talent.
I firmly believe that the role of our university is to transform lives and serve our society and citizenry by educating, creating knowledge and putting knowledge to work on a large scale with excellence. We are creating an educated economy, where educated citizenry will help our state to be the best it can be.
Please take a moment from your very busy day and contact the following legislators with your message. Representative Tammie Wilson has asked her subcommittee members to submit any amendments to her proposal to cut the university budget to $288 million by 5 p.m. Wednesday. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, the subcommittee will take up the university’s budget and any amendments, and pass a final recommendation on to the House Finance Committee.
Subcommittee members are interested in knowing what you think of this proposal. If you would like to send comments to members prior to the meeting, here is their contact information, but please use your personal [not university] computer, email account or personal letterhead to do so. Tell them what you think and what we need to be a viable university.
Representative Tammie Wilson, Chair ( email@example.com )
Representative Jim Colver ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Representative Neal Foster ( email@example.com )
Representative Paul Seaton ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Representative Liz Vasquez ( email@example.com )
Representative Andy Josephson ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Representative Adam Wool ( email@example.com )
You also can contact the House member who represents you and express your concerns, to be passed on to the subcommittee or to the majority caucus. If you know who your representative is, you can get contact information here: http://akleg.gov/house.php . If you don’t know, go to http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/. At the bottom right of the page is a box labeled “Who Represents Me?” Enter your home address to get the information.
Thank you, your efforts will help us all preserve and sustain our university. Please help your Regents help you. Can I count on you?
Chair, Board of Regents
University of Alaska