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UA Regents Consider New Programs, Tuition at Juneau Meeting

The University of Alaska Board of Regents headed to Juneau this week to
face a heavy agenda that includes several new degree and certificate
programs, including undergraduate certificates in ethnobotany and
environmental studies; a graduate certificate in construction
management;  Bachelor of Science degree programs in nutrition and
dietetics; and a corrections certificate.

The 11-member board also considered tuition rates for 2011-2012;
schematic design approval for renovating the UAA Science building; and
approval of the UAA Master Plan.

Regents were scheduled to take public testimony from local residents at 10 a.m.
this Thursday and Friday, Sept. 24-25, in the Glacierview Room at the
University of Alaska Southeast. Anyone unable to testify in person is
welcome to contact the board via sybor@alaska.edu.

The ethnobotany degree, if approved, would be delivered on the
Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel.  It's intended to 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. Both programs, if approved, have funding
through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The degree programs in nutrition and dietetics, if approved, would
build upon UAA's health-care career education and training niche,
which follows a "grow your own" strategy for the state. Alaska is the
only state in the nation without a baccalaureate degree in nutrition
or dietetics. As a result, institutions and agencies often must
contract with professionals outside Alaska, at high expense. Funding
for both programs, which each require one new full-time faculty
member, would come from several sources.

The graduate certificate in construction management at UAF, if
approved, would target graduate engineers or other professionals in
the Alaska construction workforce. The state Department of
Transportation has cited a need for advanced training for engineers
and other professionals; both UAA and UAF offer associate degrees in
construction management and UAA has a bachelor's program, so the
graduate certificate strengthens offerings in this area.

The undergraduate certificate in corrections would be offered through
Kenai Peninsula College, at both its Soldotna and Homer campuses. The
state Department of Corrections supports the program because it often
must recruit from the Lower 48 for entry level positions. While UAA
and UAF offer bachelor and master's degrees in justice, there is no
current program for entry level corrections personnel.

On the UAA Science Building renovation project, many programs formerly
housed in the building have since moved to the new ConocoPhillips
Integrated Sciences Building, which opened this fall. Some of the
science programs that didn't fit into the ConocoPhillips building will
move into the old Science building, with space renovated in phases as
funding becomes available. The first phase focuses on geology, with
additional phases for the physics, astronomy, biology, life science
and math programs. The building will remain occupied except for the
one-fourth under renovation during each phase.

On tuition, UA President Mark Hamilton recommends tuition increases
continue to moderate for 100- and 200-level of courses, at a proposed
5 percent for the academic year starting in fall 2011, while
upper-division courses increase at a proposed 10 percent for that
year. This would put tuition at $154 per credit at most UA
institutions for 100- and 200-level courses and upper division courses
at $187 per credit by fall 2011.

Tuition rates for the current and next academic year are already set.
The regents by policy must approve tuition two years in advance, which
is unique within higher education nationally. Even with the increase,
if approved, UA tuition remains competitive with Western state peers.
UA has started 100 new programs in the last 10 years due to employer
demand, most in programs that take two years or less to complete. As a
result, more than 63 percent of college-bound high school graduates in
Alaska now choose UA, compared to 44 percent in the mid- to
late-1990s.

Revenue sources have increased from a number of sources, not just
tuition. Charitable donations to the UA Foundation, for example,
reached a record $31 million in FY08. Competitive research grants
earned by faculty also outperform Western peers, with roughly $150
million in research brought into the state each year.

In other business, the board will review the FY11 operating and
capital budgets, but won't vote on those budgets until the Oct. 30
meeting. The requests then go to the governor and legislature.

Regents will hear presentations from the UAS campus, attend a
reception at UAS and lunch with Gov. Sean Parnell. For a detailed look
at the board agenda, go to www.alaska.edu/bor/ and click on "agendas."

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