February 07, 2008

UA regents approve academic offerings, three-year ACCFT contract

For Immediate Release
Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved several new academic offerings, schematic design for a roofing and siding project at the Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel and a three-year contract for 324 members in the Alaska Community Colleges' Federation of Teachers, one of three university unions. The regents wrapped up a two-day meeting in Juneau Thursday.

The regents approved an associate of applied science degree in dental hygiene at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and graduate certificates in language education and adult education at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The Bethel project, one of the university's top maintenance priorities, involves removing the existing roofing and exterior fascia boards and replacing them with new materials. The board approved funding for the $4 million project last year.

Consistent with recommendations following an external review of UAF's Cooperative Extension Service, board members also approved a reorganization of CES, moving it to the provost's office from the College of Rural and Community Development. The Cooperative Extension Service director will serve in a vice provost position, elevating the status of CES within the campus structure. The board, at this meeting and at several meetings over the past year, heard from numerous CES supporters, particularly those involved in youth programs such as 4-H.

The regents' requested budget includes $350,000 in increased funding for CES. Extension offers numerous outreach programs statewide, including the popular Master Gardeners program. Gov. Sarah Palin did not include the funding in her budget, but board members and many CES supporters hope lawmakers will amend the budget to provide the increase.

Regents also approved the naming of a tract of land at UAF, between the UA Museum of the North and the Paul Reichardt Building, Troth Yeddha' Park. Troth Yeddha' is the Athabascan name for "the site where the wild potato is gathered." The area is to be considered a tribute to Alaska Native culture and history on the UAF campus. While it will serve as a gathering place for Native students, it also will allow uses by other diverse groups, such as Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre.

The site historically was where elders held council regarding the state of affairs of Native nations in Alaska's Interior. When the elders learned that Troth Yeddha' was to become the site of the Agricultural College and School of Mines, the forerunner to the University of Alaska, they placed an eagle feather on a pole to let the Athabascan people know that the ridge would no longer be used for meeting or picking wild potatoes but for a new, formalized type of education.

As the campus evolved over the years to its present-day configuration of UAF, Native» students, particularly those from rural Alaska, have remarked on the need for an open space to serve as a gathering place honoring their heritage. The idea behind Troth Yeddha' is to help bridge the gap between the reality of urban college life and the rural, traditional homes left behind. While limited improvements are envisioned in the future, UAF officials said the intent is to leave the area largely in its natural state.

Alaska Native leader and elder Walter Soboleff, 99, personally came to the board meeting at the UAS campus Thursday morning to speak in favor of Troth Yeddha'.

Dedicating the area sends a powerful message to students and will enhance their academic success, Soboleff said. "This will give them (students) a feeling of being more at home on the campus, to see something of their culture become a part of the campus," Soboleff said. "I want to commend President Hamilton for championing this cause."

In other business, board members met with individual legislators regarding the university's budget, met with Gov. Palin and toured the University of Alaska Southeast campus. Like other institutions, the university system faces higher-than-expected fuel and heating costs due to the high price of oil. Regents approved a $2.3 million supplemental budget to cover the higher costs.

UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer, UAS Chancellor John Pugh and UAF Provost Susan Henrichs also addressed a joint luncheon of the Juneau and Alaska chambers of commerce on Thursday about the importance of UA's workforce training programs.


For more information, call Kate Ripley at 907/388-3506 or 907/450-8102.

University of Alaska Foundation announces the recipients of the 2008 Angus Gavin Memorial Migratory Bird Research Grant

February 7, 2008

The University of Alaska Foundation announces the recipients of the 2008 Angus Gavin Memorial Migratory Bird Research Grant.

Caroline Van Hemert a graduate student attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been awarded $15,000 for her research proposal entitled "Multi-species Investigation of Beak Deformities in Resident Alaska Birds".

Emily Weiser also a graduate student attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been awarded $10,000 for her research proposal entitled "Diet of Glaucous Gulls (Larus hyperboreus) on Alaska's North Slope".

The awards are provided to support research on bird species found either permanently or seasonally in Alaska or its coastal waters, including their biology, general ecology and habitat relationships.

This grant was established in 1981 with a gift from ARCO to honor the memory of Angus Gavin who served as an environmental advisor to Atlantic Richfield Company.» He was hand-picked by ARCO Chairman, Robert O. Anderson to observe, categorize and quantify the little known flora and fauna of Prudhoe Bay in 1969.» Gavin was to draw conclusions, pro or con, about the impact of oil field development on the ecology of the North Slope and to recommend operational changes that would minimize or negate any adverse effects on the environment.»

For more information contact:
University of Alaska Foundation
Attn: Brandi Berg
910 Yukon Drive, Suite 206
PO Box 755080
Fairbanks, AK 99775-5080
907-450-8033 phone
907-450-8031 fax