UA Board of Regents approves steps toward establishing Alaska College of Education, hears updates on the university budget and Title IX compliance
The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved next steps toward establishing the Alaska College of Education (AKCOE), heard an update on the university’s FY19 budget planning scenarios and reviewed progress on campus Title IX compliance at its March 1-2 meeting in Fairbanks.
As part of the university’s plan to increase the number of teachers it prepares for Alaska’s schools, regents approved renaming the University of Alaska Southeast School of Education to the Alaska College of Education and moving the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Education and the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Education into existing colleges. The UAF School of Education will be housed within the UAF College of Natural Science and Mathematics and the UAA College of Education, now called the UAA School of Education, will be housed within the UAA College of Arts and Sciences. “With this new structure, we plan for stronger teacher education programs at all three of our universities,” said UA President Jim Johnsen.
“We need to keep the dialogue going,” said Regent John Davies. “There will undoubtedly be issues throughout this process, but I’m confident in this approach and having a single point for coordinating education programs at UA. I’m hopeful that this will help us meet our broader goal to have more UA-educated teachers in Alaska schools.”
Next steps for the AKCOE include selecting an executive dean to lead the college. Two finalists have been identified for the position: Dr. Steve Atwater, current interim dean of the UAF School of Education, and Dr. Kathryn Hildebrand, current professor at Troy University’s College of Education in Troy, AL. Dr. Atwater met with administrators, faculty, staff and student stakeholders at all three universities during the week of Feb. 19; Dr. Hildebrand will meet with those stakeholders during the week of Mar. 5. The committee conducting the search expects to share its views on the finalists for the position by the end of March.
In other board action, Johnsen presented an update on the university’s budget for next year. The Board of Regents approved an FY19 state operating request of $341 million at its November board meeting. Johnsen noted that the House Finance Committee’s current proposal funds the university’s FY19 state operating budget request at $336 million, and asked regents to provide criteria for which strategic investments the university should focus on in the event that the board’s full operating budget request isn’t fulfilled.
“I want to make sure that no matter what we do, we don’t lose our standing as the number one Arctic research university in the world. I know we have tough choices to make, but we’ve got to look towards the future,” said Board Chair Gloria O’Neill.
“The last few years have been tough, but I think we’re moving in the right direction. I think there’s a vote of confidence in the way we’re heading at the University of Alaska for our state. And if we’re able to get the support we need from the legislature this year, we’ll turn a corner,” added Johnsen.
Johnsen also noted that the university plans to increase its wages for student employees to bring all student employee positions up to Alaska’s minimum hourly wage of $9.84.
Coalition of Student Leaders Chair Colby Freel said he appreciated leadership’s attention to the issue. “I’m grateful for the energy focused on this, and that all of our students will be paid at or above the state’s minimum wage. Student employment is an important part of the university’s financial planning,” said Freel.
The board also heard updates on systemwide and campus alcohol policies, Strategic Pathways implementation, and Title IX compliance scorecards at each university campus. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we’ve come a long way, and knowing that the regents will always be committed to our Title IX effort will make our job that much more important,” Johnsen said.
“I’m proud to belong to an institution that has the courage to make difficult decisions and to provide a safe environment for students,” said Freel. “I am very thankful for the enormous amount of work that has been put in by everyone…for the conversations with university leaders, the open forums and the action. We are just now seeing a culture shift that is the result of the collective efforts of the university community.”
UAF Vice Chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education Evon Peter and Alyeska Pipeline President Tom Barrett, co-chair of the fundraising steering committee for the Troth Yeddha’ Indigenous Studies Center and Park, presented an update on planning progress for one of the university’s top fundraising priorities.
In other action, the board approved moving the UAF Community and Technical College from the College of Rural and Community Development, making it a standalone college; discontinuing UAA’s undergraduate certificate programs in Paralegal Studies and Small Business Management; and, renaming concurrent enrollment to dual enrollment, referring to K-12 students who take university classes to receive both K-12 and postsecondary credit. The board also approved the formal project approval request for the UAS Auke Bay Marine Station re-use and revisions to the Industrial Security Resolution.
All Board of Regents documents are available online at www.alaska.edu/bor/agendas.