Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) – The University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents heard Friday how the university plays an important role in Alaska’s current economy and future capacity for growth.
The Regents heard updates on the System’s role as an economic engine and further refined the Goals and Measures to set the system up for future success and growth, including a focus on UAF becoming a Tier 1 research university, an emphasis on increasing system-wide enrollment and developing a skilled workforce for Alaska industries.
“I am pleased with the progress UA has made on our goals and measures, and I am optimistic about the future of all three universities,” said Board Chairman Ralph Seekins. “I would like to extend a warm ‘welcome’ to our new Regents, and thank them for their willingness to serve. We look forward to seeing continued positive progress under President Pitney’s leadership.”
Empowering Alaska – Goals and Measures
During the morning session, the Regents discussed the Goals and Actions, which support system-wide dialogue to foster and build positive relationships among universities. The metrics were revised through 2027 thanks to positive progress in key areas:
• Better-than-expected enrollment projections system-wide, but especially at UAA,
• revisions to high-demand programs based on information from the Department of Labor,
• higher projected investigative expenses driven by UAF,
• revised UA Foundation fundraising goals, and
• Ongoing efforts of the Alaska Native Success Initiative.
“I am pleased to say that the AU has turned around and is focused on empowering Alaska,” said Chairman Pitney. “Fiscal stability is the foundation of the successes we’ve had, and fiscal stability is necessary for us to continue to meet the challenges and opportunities that Alaska faces.”
United States Senator Lisa Murkowski briefly joined, praising the collaborative efforts between her office, the university, and the state to pass the University of Alaska Tax Foundation Act. The Act allows the university to work with the DNR and BLM to more than triple UA’s current land holdings to more than 500,000 acres in future years.
In the afternoon, the regents heard an update from AU Director of Land Administration Adrienne Stolpe on progress toward identifying land for transfer to the university under this bill.
Workforce empowerment and economic development
Over lunch, the Regents heard a “Did You Know” presentation highlighting construction programs across the UA system and participated in a discussion with a panel representing the Department of Labor, industry and university training programs.
There are more than 40 programs directly related to the construction industry, from carpentry to surveying, heavy equipment to welding, and civil engineering to project and construction management.
These programs range from short-term certificates to four-year degrees and beyond, and are designed with industry input to provide the skills needed for employment or career advancement.
Graduates of UA’s construction management programs earn more than $114,500 in 10 years, a 32% growth over first-year earnings and well above the Alaska median salary of $56,600.
Graduates of certificate and associate programs also show significant long-term gains.
To help meet the needs of the healthcare workforce in Fairbanks, the Board approved the creation of a 1-year Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) certificate at UAF. The program enjoys broad support in interior Alaska and was fast-tracked through support from healthcare industry partners; will be open for enrollment in the fall of 2023.
Susan Bell of the McKinley research group presented an overview of the economic impact of AU. In total, the university generated $2 for every $1 received in state UGF, and its programs and services generated nearly $1 billion in total economic activity in fiscal year 2022, including work with more than 2,600 Alaska providers.
The Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) has received formal approval from the Regent to build a hangar at the Nenana airport. The hangar will be used as a drone test site for ACUASI, supporting unmanned aircraft systems missions between Fairbanks and Nenana. Alaska has the perfect environment to test the technologies, policies, and procedures necessary to conduct real-world drone cargo operations with minimal risk to people on the ground and other aircraft.
The regents also approved the Trades and Crafts Collective Bargaining Agreement, and heard reports on the Alaska Native Success Initiative and Title IX. The UA Foundation also shared that UA Giving Day raised more than $1.3 million from more than 1,700 donors in just 49 hours (February 22-23). The Board also unanimously approved a motion in support of the Willow Project.
The next full board meeting is scheduled for May 25-26, 2023 in Fairbanks.
All meetings, with the exception of executive sessions, are public and will be broadcast live.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents is an 11-member volunteer board, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Alaska Legislature.
Members serve an eight-year term, with the exception of the student regent, who serves a two-year term.
The Board was established through the Alaska Constitution and is responsible for the policy and management of the University of Alaska through the university president.