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Regents Approve New Academic Programs at UAS, UAA

The University of Alaska Board of Regents wrapped up a two-day meeting
Friday in Soldotna by approving two new special education degrees and
an associate degree in sonography.

The board approved a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education and Master
of Arts in Teaching in Special Education, both at the University of
Alaska Southeast; and an Associate of Applied Science in Medical
Diagnostic Sonography at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The two special education degrees intend to fill a critical shortage
of such teachers in Alaska. The bachelor’s in special education, a
120-credit undergraduate degree, is expected to attract more than 30
students within four years. The master’s degree in special education
is a 39-credit graduate degree program designed for students who
previously earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, but do not yet
have an Alaska teaching certificate. It’s expected to attract a dozen
students by its second year.

The programs will be available beginning in fall 2012 through
e-learning (online). No other UA campus offers those degree options.

The associate degree in sonography at UAA also is in response to
Alaska’s workforce needs, with a reported 20 percent vacancy rate in
the field. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work in a
variety of health care settings, from doctors’ offices to medical
centers. Currently, students must attend school outside of Alaska to
receive an education in the field of sonography. The program is
expected to attract 10 students within the first year.

The April board meeting has become a favorite of the 11-member board,
as it’s traditionally held at one of the community and rural campuses.
Board members see first hand the tremendous impact the UA System has
throughout the state, especially in smaller communities.

Board members heard from student after student about the importance of
the education and training they receive through Kenai Peninsula
College, including one adult student with a learning disability who is
looking forward to earning her GED next month. She told the board that
KPC’s staff and professors have been instrumental in getting her the
help she needed.

Alicia Itta, a KPC student from Barrow, said the “family feel” of the
campus and supportive staff helped lessen the cultural shock of moving
from her small Arctic community to the Kenai Peninsula.

“The teachers and staff are so caring and everyone is willing to help
each student equally. Every day, they provide motivation to help us
succeed,” Itta said.  “I’m very excited that KPC is building dorms for
future students from out of state and rural areas.”

Board members attended a ceremonial groundbreaking for not only the
student housing project at KPC, but also for the new Career and
Technical Education Center. Both projects were approved by voters in a
2010 general obligation bond, and will add tremendously to the size of
the campus and service to students.  Regents also attended the
unveiling of a plaque honoring the campus’ founding director, Clayton
Brockel, who was in attendance along with his wife Jean.

Campus officials had fun during a Thursday luncheon presentation to
the board, at one point highlighting the paramedic training program at
the college by “calling out” an ambulance and having EMT students rush
into the meeting room at the Ward Building with a gurney.  A community
reception Thursday evening allowed board members the opportunity to
meet members of the KPC advisory council.

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