Goals & Measures
Alaska’s economy is heavily dependent upon extraction and resource development industries; the future well-being of the state economy requires diversification, innovation and new industry. The University of Alaska is uniquely suited to drive change in our economy and to educate graduates who will lead a new era of economic development. To meet the challenge of transforming Alaska’s economy we must increase the number of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, technicians and other innovators working in the state. We must also monetize our research through the attainment of invention disclosures, patents and discoveries that benefit Alaska’s economy. To accomplish this goal requires overcoming historically low educational attainment rates, addressing disparities in rural education opportunities and shifting the culture of education in the state.
Historically Alaskans have benefited from high-paying jobs that do not require high levels of educational attainment. But the economy and workforce landscape of Alaska is changing rapidly and we must prepare for a new wave of employment opportunities that will require more than a high school diploma. According to national research, by 2025, 65 percent of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. If K-12, vocational programs and UA education can prepare Alaskans for these jobs, Alaskans will fill them. Otherwise, Alaska will continue to face a shortage of skilled employees and will have to import labor from outside. In order to increase the number of students enrolling in post-secondary training we have to change the culture of education in the state and increase enrollment throughout the university system, especially in critical areas such as health programs and teacher education.
Research contributes to every aspect of Alaskan life – it drives innovation and discovery, spurs outside investment, generates a significant percentage of UA’s annual revenue and is critical for future growth. UA leads the world in Arctic research, which provides the foundation of our international reputation. We are a leader in climate research, atmospheric and biological science, geophysics, cold climate engineering, and natural resource management. We advance basic and applied knowledge by engaging on complex social, scientific and economic issues; and, we work to solve real-world challenges that will benefit our people, communities, environment and economy. Alaska is a living laboratory of glaciers, permafrost, oceans, subarctic climate and ancient cultures. UA is uniquely situated to study these rapidly changing ecosystems and to help our people, environment and economy adapt. UA is part of a national network of public research universities that account for 66 percent of all university research and development expenditures and which conduct much of the nation’s core STEM research.
The university’s students are its most valuable constituency. Not only is it our responsibility to provide for student success, but we must encourage them to graduate in a timely manner. Degree attainment means inspiring more college-going, working to educate more skilled graduates, and providing degree programs that lead to future success. The educational success of students attending the University of Alaska is among its highest priorities.
The university is committed to preparing Alaskans to become educated members of our state’s workforce and to meet the state’s workforce needs. Our graduates will continue to find opportunity in many sectors of the Alaska economy – in research, teaching, engineering, nursing and for those who choose a career in the trades or innovation. But we face challenges. Our enrollment population is declining. We rank 49th out of 50 states in college-going. In 2017-18, of the 7,796 high school seniors, 46.4 percent continued on to college. Of those who went on to college 36.4 percent left the state. As of 2016, 28.8 percent of Alaskans have at least a bachelor’s degree.
As the University of Alaska examines how best to position itself to meet the future
needs of Alaska and its students, steps have been taken to reduce administrative and
operating costs to free up funds for investment in high priority programs and services.
A series of initiatives including Statewide Transformation and Strategic Pathways
have, and will continue to shape and restructure the university. The university continues
to work to mitigate state funding decreases by increasing alternative revenue sources
through enrollment growth strategies, philanthropic giving, land grant initiative
and containing costs.