September 16, 2008

Regents head to UAA campus to discuss budget, tuition & new construction

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008

Members of the University of Alaska Board of Regents will meet this week on the Anchorage campus to address a full agenda that includes a preview of the system's FY10 budget, tuition rates for the 2011-2012 academic year and several university construction projects from Juneau to Nome.

The board will hear public testimony at 10 a.m. Thursday and Friday, Sept. 18 and 19, in Room 107 of the Lee Gorsuch Commons at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The regents also are hosting a reception for current state legislators and candidates for the state House and Senate. Members of the media are invited to the reception, which will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Whale's Tail, inside the Hotel Captain Cook.

The budget preview will help UA President Mark Hamilton gather regent input before seeking final budget approval on Oct. 31. The budget would then be submitted to the governor's Office of Management and Budget for consideration. The governor then submits UA's budget request to the Alaska Legislature as part of her overall budget.

Hamilton's first budget draft, crafted in collaboration with the three chancellors and staff from across the UA system, calls for increased state investment in programs that emphasize college and work preparedness including outreach programs to K-12 districts, Tech Prep and career awareness programs, testing, placement and teacher preparation.

UA's chief academic officers and professors throughout the system spent the last two years analyzing projects and systemic solutions to help students become more successful while still in high school, help ease the transition to college, and then improve success rates once they come to UA for workforce training or traditional two- and four-year degrees. Hamilton and the chancellors propose putting $2.6 million toward those bridging and outreach programs. Other priorities include increased funding for energy, engineering and climate programs, at $3.8 million; beefing up health programs by just over $3 million; and workforce and campus programs expanded by $2.3 million. The proposed operating budget for the system would total $343.5 million in state general funds.

"It's early in the process," Hamilton said. "I expect to hear a lot from our regents and the public before we finalize and fine-tune the budget."

The tuition proposal, if approved, would go into effect for the fall 2011 semester. Hamilton proposes a 4 percent tuition increase for 100- and 200-level courses and a 7 percent increase for all others. Last September, the regents approved two sequential 5 percent increases for two years.

If approved, the latest tuition increase will mark the fourth consecutive year of increases of 7 percent or less. "Other universities are increasing their tuition levels at more aggressive rates, which means that the University of Alaska is still a real bargain," Hamilton said.

Campus facilities also are a subject for this week's meeting. The university is seeking formal project approval on a $10.2 million remodel of the Anderson Building at UAS, along the shore of Auke Bay across the Glacier Highway from the main campus center. The building has jointly housed UAS scientists as well as scientists from the UAF School of Fisheries. UAF faculty and students will soon move out to the new Lena Point facility, freeing up space for UAS programs in biology, marine biology and environmental sciences.

Due to the Anderson Building's age, a major rehabilitation is required in addition to space reconfigurations that are specific to UAS' program offerings. The current plan calls for a renovated seawater research lab, three biology undergraduate research labs, two classrooms, a chemistry lab, biology instructional lab and several faculty offices.

Regents also will be asked to approve the schematic design of a $7 million exterior envelope for the Tanana Valley Campus in Fairbanks, which will improve the insulation value from less than R-4 to an R-21 rating; as well as formal project approval for a $3.5 million rehabilitation of foundation pilings for two buildings at the Northwest Campus in Nome. The project also includes some electrical code corrections and modifications to the buildings' heating and ventilation systems.


For more information call Kate Ripley at 907/450-8102. For a full copy of the UA Board of Regents' agenda, go to and click on "agendas."