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UA Regents Roll up Sleeves for Budget Meeting


The University of Alaska Board of Regents will consider the FY12
operating and capital budgets for the 16-campus system when it meets
Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Anchorage.

Public testimony will begin at 10 a.m. in Room 107 of the Lee Gorsuch
Commons at the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. The meeting is
expected to run until 3 p.m.

In addition to the budget, the board also will consider schematic
design approval for the Life Sciences Classroom and Lab facility in
Fairbanks, which was part of a general obligation bond voters solidly
endorsed Nov. 2. Other university projects in the GO bond, including a
sports facility for UAA students and the Anchorage community, are
gearing up to come before the board for approval in the coming months.

UA President Pat Gamble has proposed a hold-the-line operating budget
for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2011.

“The university has to zero in on just those mission areas, both
academic and support, that are the most important for our students and
the state,” Gamble said. “This is a modest budget that steers dollars
where they’re needed the most, while maintaining a system balance.”

The budget blueprint would require 40 percent from the state treasury
matched by 60 percent in UA-generated revenue. It emphasizes
initiatives that strengthen student retention and graduation,
investments in high-demand health, biomedical and teacher education
programs, engineering, distance learning and enhancements to the
university’s competitive research opportunities in the fields of
fisheries, energy and the Arctic.

Not included at this stage is an increase for faculty and staff
salaries. Contracts with the four separate unions at the university
expire at the end of December, and the amounts needed to fund the
collective bargaining agreements won’t be known until negotiations are
finished. Regents are expected to consider compensation for
non-unionized staff at this meeting, but that amount isn’t known yet
either. Even if salaries are increased at modest levels, it would add
another several million to both the general fund request and the
university’s proportional share.

On the capital side, the FY12 request totals $82.5 million in state
general funds, matched by $130 million in university dollars. Those
university dollars include a $100 million bond issue proposed by
Gamble that would fast-track a sizable portion of the university’s
long list of deferred maintenance.

“It’s vitally important that we immediately take steps to halt the
deferred maintenance free fall,” Gamble said. “If the board agrees
that the best means to aggressively tackle this issue is through the
proposed internal UA bonding, then that’s the direction we’ll go.”

Projects on the capital list focus on maintenance and repair. They
include community campus projects across the state as well as in
Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage.

Still to be decided are tuition rates for 2012-2013. An advisory task
force made up of students, faculty and staff has met numerous times in
recent weeks and is in the process of reviewing a variety of tuition
proposals. The board will hear a report on the group’s efforts, but no
action is expected on tuition at this meeting.

In September, the board delayed a vote on rates for 2012-2013, and
didn’t support a proposal to increase the rate for lower division
classes by another 5 percent for 2011-2012.
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