University of Alaska proposed budget emphasizes graduation initiatives
The University of Alaska Board of Regents will meet in Fairbanks Wednesday, Nov. 2, to discuss the operating and capital budgets for the next fiscal year. The proposed operating budget for the 16-campus system emphasizes limited but focused growth in certain areas, such as $1.5 million toward efforts to improve graduation rates, including better academic advising for students. Other key areas that would receive additional funding include high-demand job training in engineering, health and biomedical fields, teacher education and workforce development. Research important to Alaskans also would receive state funding under the proposed plan. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. in Room 109 of the Butrovich Building, on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. Public testimony will begin shortly after that. The meeting is expected to wrap up by 3 p.m. The proposed operating budget for the UA System, which has campuses from Ketchikan to Kotzebue, would be $924 million. Of that amount, $368.2 million would come from the State of Alaska. The university would generate the rest, $555.8 million, through federal dollars, contracts, tuition, earnings from land leases and sales and other revenue sources. If the board approves the budget, it would be a 3.7 percent increase in operating funds over the current fiscal year. Enrollment at UA remains at all-time high levels, with more than 34,000 full- and part-time students attending across the system. Student headcount growth is highest at Kenai Peninsula College, which saw a 28 percent jump in students attending for fall 2011 compared to the previous year. The proposed capital budget continues the UA System’s emphasis on addressing deferred maintenance, with no new construction projects proposed for FY13, which begins July 1, 2012. At a proposed $202 million in state funds, UA's capital budget would put $137.5 million toward deferred maintenance, including $37.5 million proposed by Gov. Sean Parnell plus an additional $100 million toward reducing the maintenance backlog. If approved, the capital budget also would set aside $50 million for annual building renewal, which is based on a formula that takes into account the replacement value of UA facilities. UA owns over 400 buildings across the state that total 6.6 million square feet, with a total value of infrastructure worth more than $2 billion. For a look at the complete agenda for Wednesday’s Board of Regents’ meeting, go to www.alaska.edu/bor/agendas.