November 12, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 12, 2021
UA Board of Regents approve FY23 budget requests and Alaska Native Success strategic plan
The University of Alaska Board of Regents unanimously approved the fiscal year 2023 (FY23) operating and capital budget requests and agreed to seek economic recovery funding received by the state to support key initiatives during its two-day meeting, Nov. 11-12. The board also unanimously approved a five-year strategic plan for the Alaska Native Success Initiative to improve the recruitment, retention and success of Alaska Native faculty, students and staff across the system.
“The FY23 budget demonstrates that the university system is turning the corner on financial stability in requesting a modest operating increase after eight years of cumulative budget reductions,” said Pat Pitney, interim UA president. “In addition to operating budget stability, I’m looking forward to partnering with state agencies on key economic recovery investments in areas of strength, including health, critical minerals, oil and gas recovery, unmanned aerial vehicles, mariculture, and alternative energy. These are areas where we can make meaningful contributions through our research capabilities and our ability to graduate the workforce the state needs.”
The economic development investments focus on areas in which the university system has a deep base of expertise and that the state has identified as priorities. The board will seek state discretionary funding available through federal economic recovery funds for these efforts. Pitney noted that the board appreciates the encouragement of the Dunleavy administration to pursue these investment areas and looks forward to working with the legislature to demonstrate the impacts these investments will have on Alaska.
“These are areas where UAA, UAF and UAS can meet state and national needs to build a stronger foundation for long-term economic growth,” Pitney said. “Expanding our health care programs is essential, and Alaska has great potential to expand industry sectors in large scale mariculture, environmentally sound rare earth mineral extraction, alternative energy, and especially in drone advancement and technology.”
The FY23 state UGF operating budget request of $280.7 million includes a modest 3 percent adjustment, approximately $8 million. This is less than the projected operating cost increases for FY23 estimated at $11 million. Pitney told the regents that even with an increase in state funding, the system will need to continue to identify additional efficiencies and internally reallocate unrestricted funding to cover projected operating cost increases and enrollment revenue declines. Included in the cost increases are proposed compensation adjustments for staff, only the second compensation increase in five years.
The approved FY23 capital funding request includes $50 million for critical deferred maintenance, including the replacement of 50-year-old sanitation infrastructure at UAF’s Moore/Bartlett student housing; heating, safety and mechanical system improvements at multiple UAA facilities and a roof and fuel tank replacement at UAS. The capital budget also includes $20 million for the modernization of student IT systems originally designed in the 1990s. This one-time investment would allow UA to transition to a cloud-based, modern student information system to remain competitive in the marketplace.
As part of the financial discussion, Pitney reported that the university’s annual review of its finances and investment funds received clean reports from its auditors.
Regents also approved a five-year plan for the Alaska Native Success Initiative focused on greater recruitment and retention of Native students, staff and faculty. One major goal is to see greater integration of Alaska Native students and employees into all programs and all levels of the university system in numbers more reflective of the Alaska population.
“The collaboration between our community partners and our university teams to develop this plan has been fabulous,” Pitney said. “We want Alaska Native students to feel that they belong at our universities and are supported, no matter what program they’re in, whether it’s accounting or an Alaska Native language program. This plan helps us do that.”
The board agreed to keep tuition rates at UAA, UAS, and at UAF’s community campuses and career and technical college at current levels, and approved a 11 percent adjustment for a subsection of undergraduate courses offered on the main UAF campus. The tuition increase brings UAF’s rates in line with peer research institutions, recognizing UAF’s role in the national research environment.
As part of the “Did You Know” series, regents viewed a video presentation in honor of Alaska’s veterans, active military and reservists that highlighted the history of military in Alaska and the many services UAA, UAF and UAS provide to military students and their dependents. The presentation was followed by a panel discussion featuring representatives from each of the universities allowing the regents a closer look at how UA supports military students.
Finally, the board reappointed officers for the coming year: Sheri Buretta as chair, Karen Perdue as vice chair, Dale Anderson as secretary and Lisa Parker as 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.
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For more information, contact Roberta Graham, associate vice president of public affairs at 907-360-2416 (cell).