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University of Alaska Regents set future tuition, say farewell to two members

FAIRBANKS--The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved tuition
rates for the 2012-2013 school year, well in advance so students have
maximum time to plan.

Students praised UA President Pat Gamble for the tuition-setting
process used this year, which involved students and other stakeholders
through an advisory task force. The proposal Gamble put forward, a 7
percent increase for all undergraduate tuition rates and a 3 percent
increase for graduate rates for the 2012-2013 academic year,
represents a consensus of the task force. The rate is the minimum the
multi-campus system predicts it will need to help balance its budget
for FY2013.  Internal reallocations, continued cost-saving measures
and increasing other revenue sources will play a major role as well.

Student government leaders proposed the 7 percent rate last fall.
Several student leaders urged board members to keep graduate tuition
static, and not increase it by 3 percent. Student Regent Ashton
Compton of Fairbanks proposed an amendment to forgo the graduate
tuition increase but it didn't garner enough votes to pass.

The advisory task force on tuition and affordability includes
community campus directors, budget and finance planners as well as
students. The task force will continue to meet, UA officials said.

"All of us on the board are really pleased with the way the different
groups came together and hammered this out," said Regent Tim Brady of
Anchorage.

UA tuition revenue covers about half the actual instructional costs;
the rest is subsidized by state general funds.

Like all other public and private employers across the nation, the UA
System faces continuing challenges with steep rises in health-care
costs for its 4,500 benefits eligible employees despite
cost-containment efforts that have included cutting back on certain
benefits and requiring employees to pay more into the plan. The
university, with much input from employees, is currently analyzing
numerous proposals designed to slow the rate of health-care increases
in the future.

In other business, the board approved a number of campus construction
and maintenance projects, some funded by the recent voter-approved
general obligation bond. Projects approved include a high-bay test
module for UAF's Alaska Center for Energy and Power, at $4.7 million;
renovation and campus upgrades at Prince William Sound Community
College in Valdez, at $5 million; phased-in pedestrian and traffic
improvements at the University of Alaska Southeast Auke Lake campus,
at $4.3 million; an addition to Mat-Su College for paramedic and
nursing labs and classrooms, at $3.5 million; and renovations for the
Career and Technical Education Center at UAS Sitka Campus, at $3.4
million.

The meeting was the last regular one for Fairbanks regents Cynthia
Henry and Erik Drygas. Gov. Sean Parnell is expected to appoint new
regents by early February, when their terms expire. Drygas, who served
out a partial term of a former regent, has expressed a desire to be
reappointed to a full term.

Both Henry and Drygas received standing ovations after resolutions of
appreciation were read aloud. The resolutions lauded them for their
service and efforts on behalf of students, faculty and staff at the
University of Alaska.

The board also elected Regent Fuller Cowell of Anchorage to serve as
chair of the board for the coming year. Pat Jacobson of Kodiak will
serve as vice chair and Bob Martin of Juneau will be secretary. Kirk
Wickersham of Anchorage will be treasurer.

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