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UA Board of Regents Calls for More Financial Aid

Dec. 1, 2009

ANCHORAGE--The University of Alaska Board of Regents wrapped up its
two-day meeting on the Anchorage campus today by approving two
resolutions supporting access to postsecondary education.

One supports legislation introduced in the state Legislature last year
by Sen. Johnny Ellis and Rep. David Guttenberg to establish the Alaska
Achievers Incentive Scholarship for needs-based financial aid; and the
other supports the Governor’s Performance Scholarship, based on
rigorous course work and good grades in high school.

The issue was brought forward by Regent Ashton Compton, the student
representative on the 11-member board.
“I think it’s important that the board go on record that we support
enhanced access to postsecondary education, workforce training and
lifelong learning for Alaska students,” Compton said.

The board also adopted operating and capital budgets for the fiscal
year beginning July 1, 2010. The budgets include a $351.2 million
request in state funds for day-to-day operations of the 15-campus
system. That money would be matched by $514.5 million in UA-generated
revenue for a total budget of $865.7 million. The operating budget
places an emphasis on energy; science, technology, engineering and
math (STEM); climate research; high-demand programs in teacher
education, health, workforce programs and engineering; and student
success initiatives aimed at improving retention and graduation rates.
It also includes a 50-cent hike in student wages across the system.

Regents delayed an October budget vote in favor of giving more time to
meet with Gov. Sean Parnell and his staff. The governor does not
introduce his budget until later this month, however, and regents
don’t meet again until February so had to adopt the budget requests
now. Several meetings with either the governor or his staff were
productive.

Regents pared down the capital request this year, opting for a $199.3
million request that includes funding mostly for maintenance ($37.5
million). Regents elected to include just one new construction
project, the Life Sciences facility on the Fairbanks campus. The $88
million in state funding for the classroom and lab building would be
matched by $20.6 million in university issued revenue bonds. The
project has been on the regents’ capital request list in one form or
another for 10 years.

Construction of the Life Sciences facility will enhance the
university’s competitive research position as well as replace aging
labs and classrooms. The UAF biology program is one of the largest in
the United States. It includes research in infectious diseases,
virology, microbiology, toxicology, cellular mechanisms of disease,
food safety and physiology; and academic programs in biology, botany,
wildlife biology, wildlife management, zoology, biological chemistry
and molecular biology.

Regents formed a working group on the proposed UAA sports arena to
address questions about the arena’s proposed location, design, seating
capacity, traffic impacts and potential funding sources. The project
isn’t included in the regents’ FY11 capital request because of other
longstanding needs, but is still important, regents said. A working
group will help the university better plan for the project and move it
forward, regents agreed.

About 10 Anchorage residents and athletics boosters urged regents to
include the sports arena in their request for the coming year. Regents
recognized their concerns, but want more time to ensure the project is
done correctly.

“The university system has many needs across the state, and we can’t
fund everything in one year. It’s our job to set priorities,” said
Regent Carl Marrs of Anchorage. “As much as we would like to fund all
these projects, such as a sports arena at UAA or new dorms at UAF, we
have to make these tough decisions.”

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