May 26, 2023

May 26, 2023

University of Alaska Board of Regents approves FY24 Budget, sets priorities focused on Empowering Alaska

(FAIRBANKS, AK) - Bolstered by growing enrollment and increased financial stability, the University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents accepted the UA’s System FY24 operating and capital budgets during its May meeting today. The budget reflects UA’s priorities: increasing enrollment through retention in degree programs for Alaska’s workforce, developing a long-term deferred maintenance funding strategy, and maintaining responsible financial stewardship.

“Alaskans should be proud of the excellence of their university system,” Board Chair Ralph Seekins said. “UA is well set up for success going into Academic Year 2024, and we remain optimistic about the future beyond. I appreciate the work being done by President Pitney, the university chancellors, and faculty and staff to build on our strengths and empower Alaska.”

Fiscal Stability & Strategic Investment

Regents accepted the FY24 operating budget as approved by the Alaska Legislature. The budget includes funding to invest in critical program enhancements, such as expansion of the WWAMI medical program, growth of the mental health trust and technical vocational education programs, and funding to build capacity for STEM, education, and workforce programs. The budget also includes funding to support salary increases for faculty, staff, firefighters, and local 6070 bargaining unit members.

The FY24 capital budget includes $39 million for priority deferred maintenance and renewal projects, and other strategic educational investments. It also includes authority to receive non-state funding to develop the University of Alaska Anchorage’s (UAA) Alaska Leaders Archive, and University of Alaska Fairbanks’ (UAF) Early Childhood Development Center.

“We are grateful for the state investment in our employees and key workforce programs,” UA President Pat Pitney said. “It demonstrates strong legislative support for the critical role that the university system plays in Alaska’s economy and workforce development.”

The Board also took a deep look into the deferred maintenance needs and management plans during the facilities and land management committee meeting on Thursday, including an overview of the facility condition index scores that are used to guide deferred maintenance, repair, and renewal projects across the system.

Omnibus bills for the FY24 Operating and Capital budgets and FY23 Supplemental budget are awaiting transmittal to the Governor. 

Academics and Student Success

Good news highlighted during the president’s and chancellors’ reports include increased enrollment across the system, especially among first-time students; highlights from spring commencement celebrations; and examples of the direct and indirect impact of research to Alaska and the world.

“UA continues to show positive progress in enrollment across the system, and the commencement exercises this past month have been a joy to be a part of,” President Pitney said. “Congratulations to the UA Class of 2023, and we look forward to welcoming a new class of freshmen in just a few short months.”

Regents also approved five new academic programs, including a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at UAF.

Community Impact

On Friday, the Board reviewed a new series of workforce reports created in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD). The reports highlight outcomes for UA graduates across 11 industries important to Alaska’s economy, including average wages earned, where they work in Alaska, what industries they work in, and how they help boost the Alaska hire rate. Workforce development is a critical part of UA’s mission. 

“These reports underscore an important reality: Alaskans who attend a UA campus are well-positioned for long-term success as a part of Alaska’s workforce,” President Pitney remarked. “Whether it is a short-term certificate program, or a post-baccalaureate degree, our graduates are meaningful contributors to Alaska, and our state’s long-term economic future.”

Innovation and Excellence 

Dr. Cathy Cahill, director of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) gave the board an update on that program’s efforts to create workforce development opportunities across Alaska. ACUASI is well on the way to achieving its long-term goal of complete, safe integration of drones with traditional aircraft in the national airspace system. ACUASI is a nationwide leader in unmanned aerial systems, and will host an international conference in Anchorage later this year.

The Board also recognized outgoing Student Regent Kali Spencer and retiring University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) Chancellor Dr. Karen Carey with resolutions of appreciation. Kali, a student leader at UAS, graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in political science, psychology, and philosophy. 

Chancellor Carey was recognized for her skills and dedication during her time as UAS chancellor (since 2020) and previously as provost and dean of graduate studies (since June of 2016). Carey was gifted a Tlingit name during the UAS’ annual Alaska Native Graduation Celebration and was honored for her time and effort to grow the Alaska Native language program; her name, Héide Shuwataaní, means “the one who opens doors.”

“On behalf of the Board, President Pitney, and our entire UA Community, I want to sincerely thank Dr. Carey and Regent Spencer for their service to the University,” Chair Seekins said. “I’ve been honored to serve with Kali on the Board, and commend her for being a tireless advocate for students. Chancellor Carey has led UAS with distinction and steadiness through challenging times, and I’m very grateful for her commitment to our University System. Both of them will be dearly missed, but we wish them success and happiness as they begin new life chapters.”

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.

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For more information, contact Jonathon Taylor, director of public affairs at 907-350-0168 (cell).