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Senator Johnny Ellis Recognized for University of Alaska Advocacy

Ellis awarded Distinguished Service Award for long-standing support for education and efforts to secure funding for UAF and UAA engineering facilities

FAIRBANKS – On Saturday the University of Alaska-Fairbanks College of Engineering and Mines 2013 bestowed its Distinguished Service Award to Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) for his long standing commitment to "K through U educational issues" and his recent efforts to secure funds for engineering facilities at both the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and University of Alaska-Anchorage.

"The next generation of Alaska engineers will be trained in specialized labs and modern classrooms thanks in a large part to Senator Ellis' efforts to secure over half of the funding for the new UAA and UAF engineering facilities. We look forward to continuing to work with the Alaska engineering community and the Alaska Legislature to secure the remainder of the funding necessary to complete the buildings," said Ann Ringstad of the College of Engineering and Mines.

On March 30th, UAF held a ground breaking ceremony for their new engineering facility. Construction is moving forward with an anticipated opening in the fall of 2015. UAA is undertaking site preparation and anticipates breaking ground soon, completion of new engineering facilities and an adjacent parking garage is slated for 2016.

"I am humbled and honored to accept this award on behalf of University students and the Alaska engineering community.  With UAA and UAF teaming together, we can continue building a world class University system that benefits all Alaskans," stated Senator Ellis. 

In 2010 the Alaska Legislature appropriated $8 million for planning and design. Last year, Senator Ellis was integral in a bipartisan effort to include a $104.9 million appropriation to cover half of the construction costs at both UAA and UAF. An additional $30 million included in the capital budget this year provides the "bridge funding" necessary to keep the projects on schedule. This year's appropriations are still subject to a veto by Governor Parnell.

"We're almost ten years behind on the need for these facilities.  With current engineering enrollment figures, these new facilities will open at full capacity. We'll need to keep working together to complete these projects and get students studying and working in the labs and classrooms of these state of the art buildings," said Senator Ellis. 

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Service Award include Alaska engineering legends Earl Beistline, Gordon Pospisil and Jack Wilbur and former Alaska Governors Tony Knowles and Frank Murkowski.

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