Talis Colberg, UAA Chancellor Tom Case, Rep. Bill Stoltze, University of Alaska Regent Gloria O’Neill, Mrs. Gloria Okeson, Physical Plant Coordinator Eric Blomskog, Sen. Charlie Huggins and UAA Associate Vice Chancellor Chris Turletes. The 508 seat theater now under construction, is expected to be open for use in December 2014.

Ground breaking for the Valley Center for Arts and Learning

Following the groundbreaking ceremony on July 18, construction is officially under way for the new $20 million Valley Center for Arts and Learning building at Matanuska-Susitna College (MSC). Expected to open in December 2014, the latest addition to the MSC campus will house a classroom, drama lab, music space and instrument storage, as well as display areas, gathering and study spaces, and a 500-seat theater for lectures, public gatherings and conferences.

For the groundbreaking, around 100 faculty, guests, staff and other dignitaries attended. Notable guests included various representatives from Earthscape, a landscape and architecture firm, Kumin & Associates Inc., who are designing the theater, BBFM Engineering Inc., RSA Engineering Inc., Landry & Bogan (theater consultants), MCH Inc., Contract Hardware Inc. and the main contractor, Roger Hickel Contracting Inc. The speakers, introduced by MSC Director Talis Colberg, were State Senator Charlie Huggins, UAA Chancellor Tom Case, State Representative Bill Stoltze and Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities and Campus Services Chris Turletes. Gloria Okeson, the spouse of former, longtime MSC director Al Okeson, also helped with the official shovel ceremony.

ANSEP receives $5 million award from Rasmuson Foundation

The Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors announced on July 15 that the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) will receive a $5 million award over five years as part of the Foundation’s Tier 2 grant program. UAA will match the Rasmuson Foundation award with increased program support that will reach $1 million annually after year five to help institutionalize and sustain ANSEP’s award-winning components.

“For decades leaders in the Native community and rural villages have struggled with how best to raise their students’ achievements. The key to ANSEP’s success is really simple. If you raise expectations for students, provide access to challenging curricula and provide a supportive environment that expects high achievement, the students will exceed expectations. ‘Each one, teach one,’ is the working philosophy,” said Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan. “New ANSEP students stand on the shoulders of the successful students who came before them and receive a helping hand from their predecessors.”

Rasmuson Foundation has exhibited strong support of ANSEP’s mission and program components over the years. The Foundation provided a $2 million challenge grant for the state-of-the-art ANSEP Building at UAA, which was opened in 2006, as well as a $2 million challenge grant for the Dr. Herbert P. Schroeder ANSEP Endowed Chair in 2008.

“UAA is grateful for the Rasmuson Foundation’s generous ongoing support of one of the University of Alaska’s flagship programs,” said UAA Chancellor Tom Case. “ANSEP is making an enormous difference in the lives of our students. This $5 million gift will do much to sustain and grow the impact of this innovative and successful program.”

This $5 million grant makes up the largest single grant ANSEP has ever received. The funds may be used over a period of five years to enable the successful continuation and growth of the program’s components.

“Rasmuson Foundation was one of the first advocates for ANSEP. Together with the ANSEP partners, we are transforming the education and economic opportunities for Alaska Natives and other students across Alaska,” said ANSEP Founder and Vice Provost Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder, Ph.D. “The new Rasmuson Foundation funds provide a major opportunity to extend and institutionalize our work. We are honored and humbled.”

Tier 2 awards are for strategic projects and the expansion or start-up of innovative programs by established organizations. The Board of Directors considers Tier 2 grants, which are more than $25,000, twice a year at its board meetings. Letters of inquiry are required and accepted year-round, followed by a detailed proposal by selected organizations.

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