June 08, 2006

New programs in construction, biology and engineering approved

For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 8, 2006

The University of Alaska Board of Regents this week approved several new academic programs aimed at meeting state workforce needs, including an associate’s degree in construction management in Fairbanks, a bachelor of arts in biology in Juneau, and a graduate certificate in port and coastal engineering in Anchorage.

Regents met for two days on the campus of Kodiak College, under the umbrella of the University of Alaska Anchorage. In addition to numerous agenda items, regents attended a community reception in Kodiak, toured the campus and met with members of the Kodiak College Advisory Committee.

The associate’s degree in construction management in Fairbanks, through the Tanana Valley Campus, mirrors a successful program already in operation at UAA. The state has a great need for qualified construction managers, with the construction sector growing at a rate of 5.5 percent annually. Representatives from the community and industry have been very supportive of a construction management program in Fairbanks, TVC Director Rick Caulfield told the regents.

The bachelor of arts in biology at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau will expand options for biology majors who may not need a bachelor of science degree, but still desire an emphasis in biology for teaching, communications or public sector careers in federal and state agencies, said UAS Chancellor John Pugh. UAS has nearly 200 biology students and already offers a bachelor of science degree in the program. Offering the bachelor of arts option will help retain some students and requires no additional resources, Pugh said.

The graduate certificate in port and coastal engineering at UAA will allow the university to offer a specific credential in a highly specialized area of engineering practice. Courses in this program have been offered on the Anchorage campus for eight years as elective components of a master’s in civil or arctic engineering, but this added credential will carry formal university endorsement of this area of expertise, said UAA Provost Mike Driscoll, who oversees academic programs for the system’s largest campus.

The board also approved was a certificate in automotive technology at UAF, and a graduate certificate in special education at UAA.

The programs are good examples of the positive direction the university is headed, said Board Chair Mary K. Hughes, of Anchorage. “The university system is working diligently to meet student demands and workforce needs of the state,” Hughes said. “Our budget this year, for example, reflects the priority we’ve placed on preparing Alaskans for new jobs.”

UA President Mark Hamilton said the university fared relatively well in the recently concluded legislative session, but noted that it’s not time to sit back and relax. He called on members of the board, in particular, to keep the momentum going and the pressure on.

“The next thousand days are a critical time period for the University of Alaska,” Hamilton said. “The state is in the process of setting its course for the next 30 years, with the expected gas line. The university must equip Alaskans to take the long-term jobs—the legacy jobs—that will exist far beyond construction.”

In addition to the academic programs, the regents also approved a new schematic design and total project cost for the Integrated Sciences Building for UAA, at an estimated $87 million. The project recently received its final chunk of state funding, $55 million, from the Legislature.

Cyndi Spear, UAA’s associate vice chancellor for facilities and campus services, said plans for the building have gone from a smaller, phased-in approach to the current proposal to complete the 120,000-square-foot building in a single phase. Spear said parking is included in the current plan, but UAA also is investigating two issues: a reduction of full parking requirements or construction of a nearby parking garage in the future.

Construction on the building is anticipated to start next spring and be finished in time for the fall 2009 semester.» The facility will be located northwest of the existing administrative/humanities and fine arts buildings. It will have two dozen labs, two lecture halls, office space, and an atrium for group gatherings. The facility is currently the largest single construction project within the UA system, and is long overdue, university officials said.

In other business, board members:
Approved schematic design and total project cost ($6 million) for code corrections at UAF’s physical plant;

Approved a new mission statement for UAF;

Approved a gift fee as part of a major reorganization of the non-profit University of Alaska Foundation, aimed at making the foundation self sufficient, and agreed to review the fee issue again in December and;

Approved the operating ($282 million state general fund) and capital budget ($109 million state GF)» distributions amongst the campuses for the fiscal year starting July 1.


For more information, call Kate Ripley at 907/450-8102.