April 08, 2011

Regents wrap up successful meeting in the Mat-Su Valley

For Immediate Release
Friday, April 8, 2011

PALMER--The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved critical electrical upgrades at the Fairbanks campus, continuation of a bachelor’s degree in international studies at the Anchorage campus, an expansion of steam heat capacity at UAF’s West Ridge and contracts for two collective bargaining units during a two-day meeting at Mat-Su College.

In addition, the board approved a resolution of appreciation for outgoing UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer and student Regent Ashton Compton, whose term expires in May. Ulmer announced her retirement over a year ago and recently was tapped by President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.

The meeting was dominated with highlights about Mat-Su College, which has seen considerable growth in recent years. College Director Talis Colberg reminded regents that 35 years ago, the college had just two graduates and that commencement was held at the Palmer Chamber of Commerce. This spring, an expected 116 students will graduate from the college, with 1,800 students currently enrolled full-time and

“This is a very different place now,” Colberg said. “The college had just one building when I was in high school and we now have five, with an addition under way due to last fall’s General Obligation Bond.”

The board heard presentations about various events and programs at Mat-Su College, including the upcoming Machetanz Art Festival, the paramedics program, the student ambassadors program, the Mat-Su Carbon Crew (a student environmental sustainability club), Phi Theta Kappa (an honors group) and many more. The board toured campus facilities as well as the nearby Agricultural and Experiment Station, part of UAF. The college hosted a reception for regents, and board members lunched with members of the college’s advisory board. The board last met at the Mat-Su campus eight years ago.

The union agreements the board approved include a contract for the Fairbanks FireFighters Association, IAFF Local 1324, which represents nine UAF firefighters; and the Higher Education Crafts and Trades Employees, Local 6070, which represents 253 maintenance and skilled crafts and trades employees, primarily at the urban campus hubs in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Earlier this year, the board approved a union contract representing adjunct faculty; a tentative agreement with the United Academics’ unit representing full-time faculty is currently out for member ratification. Still under negotiation is a contract for the third group of UA instructors--the University of Alaska Federation of Teachers.

The board also approved a resolution of appreciation for outgoing information technology chief Steve Smith, a longtime UA staff member and adjunct faculty member who is taking a similar position at the University of Hawaii. Smith’s entertaining presentations at board meetings about tech products have earned him the moniker “Inspector Gadget.”


For more information call Kate Ripley at 907/388-3506.