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UA Regents Approve Programs, Set Tuition at Two-Day Juneau Meeting

JUNEAU---The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved several
new academic programs Sept. 25, including undergraduate certificates in
ethnobotany and environmental studies, a graduate certificate in
construction management, bachelor degree programs in nutrition and
dietetics, and a certificate in corrections.

Wrapping up its two-day meeting at the University of Alaska Southeast,
the board also:

· Approved tuition rates for the 2011-2012 academic year, at $154 per
credit at most UA institutions for lower-level courses (100- and
200-level classes) and $187 per credit for upper-division courses.

· Approved schematic design for the first phase of a renovation
project of the Science Building on the University of Alaska Anchorage
campus, estimated at $2.6 million, the funding for which is already in
hand.

· Approved a new site for a proposed energy technology building at the
University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, estimated to cost $29.6
million, with funding still to be secured.

· Gave formal project approval for plumbing and shower repairs at
Skarland Hall at UAF, at an estimated $3.8 million. Funding for that
project is still to be determined.

· Gave formal project approval for student housing renovations at
Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez, estimated at nearly
$4 million. Funding for the project comes from a federal grant. The
project allows numerous upgrades to sewer, electrical systems,
weatherization, security upgrades and other improvements.

The ethnobotany degree will be delivered at Kuskokwim Campus in
Bethel. It will provide rural students with scientific training
leading to entry level employment in natural and cultural resource
management at local and regional offices, within both the private and
public sectors. The environmental studies certificate also targets
rural and Native students through the Bristol Bay Campus in
Dillingham.

The degree programs in nutrition and dietetics will build on UAA's
health-care career education and training niche. Alaska has been the
only state in the nation without a baccalaureate degree in nutrition
or dietetics, forcing institutions and agencies to contract with
professionals outside Alaska.

The graduate certificate in construction management at UAF is intended
for graduate engineers or other professionals in the Alaska
construction workforce. The state Department of Transportation
supports advanced training for engineers and other professionals; both
UAA and UAF offer associate degrees in construction management and UAA
has a bachelor's program.

The undergraduate certificate in corrections will be offered through
Kenai Peninsula College, at both its Soldotna and Homer campuses. The
state Department of Corrections supports the program. While UAA and
UAF offer bachelor and master's degrees in justice, there had not been
an entry level program in corrections previously.

The tuition proposal drew interest from student government leaders and
students, who advocated for lower increases along with wage increases
for student jobs on campuses across the state. The student groups also
called for increased financial aid for Alaska, which lags other states
nationally.

The issue drew thoughtful discussion amongst board members.
Ultimately, the tuition rate was approved on a 6-3 vote.

A majority of board members said numerous improvements made throughout
the 16-campus system, including new faculty hires and new programs
offered to students, necessitates tuition at the 5 and 10 percent
levels. Including this latest increase, UA tuition is a good deal
compared to the 15 Western states, and is less than about half of
them. Improvements throughout the UA system in the last 11 years have
led to an increased number of Alaska students choosing to remain
in-state for postsecondary education or workforce training.

Undergraduate tuition for a full-time student taking 15 courses per
semester runs about $4,500 currently, depending on the mix of classes.
Using that same example, it is set to go to $4,755 starting in the
fall 2011 semester. Under the proposal approved Friday, tuition will
go to $5,115 starting in fall 2012. That amount is still less than the
current average of the 15 Western states.

By policy, UA as a public system takes the unusual step of setting
tuition two years in advance of rates taking effect, providing
students plenty of advance notice. In addition, student governments
are notified five months prior to the scheduled vote.

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