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Tuition, Facilities Top UA Board of Regents’ Dec. 9-10 Meeting


The University of Alaska Board of Regents faces a facilities-heavy
agenda as well as setting tuition rates for 2013 when it meets Dec. 9
and 10 in Fairbanks.

Public testimony will be 10 a.m. Thursday Dec. 9 and 9 a.m. Friday
Dec. 10 in Room 109 of the Butrovich Building, at the University of
Alaska Fairbanks. Testimony is limited to three minutes per person.

On tuition, UA President Pat Gamble proposes a 7 percent increase to
all undergraduate tuition rates and a 3 percent increase in graduate
rates. The proposal for the 2012-2013 school year represents a
consensus of most participating parties of an advisory task force on
tuition and affordability. The 7 percent rate is the amount the
Coalition of Student Leaders proposed last fall.

The advisory task force held many meetings to review a wide variety of
different tuition scenarios and their budget ramifications. While it’s
difficult predicting revenue needs two years in advance, the UA
administration and board strive to set tuition early so students can
properly plan.

UA tuition revenue covers about half the instructional costs; the rest
is paid from state general funds. The university system’s total
operating budget, including all revenue sources, is approximately $850
million, with less than half coming from the state and a third made up
of restricted revenues, including federal grants and contracts. Gamble
and the three chancellors are continuing to work on reducing costs and
stabilizing the proportion of state funding required on an annual
basis for the 15-campus system.

The board has a number of facilities projects before it, including:

• Total project cost approval for a high-bay test module for UAF’s
Alaska Center for Energy and Power, at $4.7 million. The Alaska
Legislature approved $4 million in the current state capital budget
and the university is raising the remaining $700,000. The high-bay
test facility is part of a larger project to be phased in for the
center, which already has garnered $8 million in research awards to
address rural energy issues, geothermal energy, wind-diesel system
testing and other energy research.

• Formal project approval for Prince William Sound Community College
renewal and wellness center improvements, at $5 million. Project
funding is from the state general obligation bond voters approved by
60 percent in November. Hazardous materials abatement, handicapped
access improvements and fixing undersized and failing mechanical,
electrical and plumbing systems are a few of the improvements expected
with the project.

• Formal project approval to improve pedestrian movement and eliminate
through-traffic in a central zone of the University of Alaska
Southeast Auke Lake campus, at $4.3 million. The project’s goal is to
steer main traffic away from the old winding, narrow entrance near
Auke Lake and instead use the wider, newer entrance onto campus from
the Back Loop Road. The first phase of the project, at $825,000, comes
from current year maintenance money. This phase will replace pavement
and add lighting and signage.

• Formal project approval for Mat-Su College’s paramedic program and
classroom addition, at $3.5 million. This project was funded by the
November GO bond. This first phase will add approximately 6,400 square
feet to the east side of Snodgrass Hall and include paramedic and
nursing labs, additional classrooms and offices. The nursing program
will vacate a classroom in the Fred and Sara Machetanz Building, which
will be converted into a general purpose classroom.

• Formal project approval for renovation of the UAS Sitka Campus
Career and Technical Education Center, at $3.4 million. Funding for
the project comes primarily from a federal Title III grant ($2.5
million) as well as $831,000 from UA’s current capital budget.
Improvements to the Career and Tech Ed wing are needed to accommodate
expected growth in renewable energy and energy efficiency classes. A
student success center for distance education, computer classroom,
construction technology lab and multi-purpose room are part of the
project.

In other business, the board is expected to take action on deleting a
bachelor’s degree in statistics at UAF, which is now an option
available within the mathematics program; the 10-year capital
improvement plan, which puts deferred maintenance first; a student
government fee proposed by Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel; and two
resolutions of appreciation for Regents Erik Drygas and Cynthia Henry,
for whom the December meeting is expected to be their last. Gov. Sean
Parnell is expected to appoint two new regents prior to the next
regular meeting in February.

In addition, the board will select officers for the coming year and
approve the 2012 board meeting schedule.

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