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Regents hear support for UAS, approve engineering plan


JUNEAU--The University of Alaska Board of Regents on Friday approved a
multi-faceted engineering plan that will eventually improve
engineering facilities and programs at the Anchorage and Fairbanks
campuses.  The 11-member board also heard from many community and
business leaders about the importance of the University of Alaska
Southeast during the two-day meeting at the Student Recreation Center.

Public testimony for UAS was strong, particularly for a student
housing expansion project that has received partial funding but needs
additional support before it can be completed. Juneau accountant Max
Mertz noted that the UAS faculty, Chancellor John Pugh and the staff
are very involved in the community through civic organizations and
volunteer work, in addition to education and workforce training.

“Everyone in Juneau appreciates UAS and understands the importance of
a strong educational system to the economic and social well-being of a
community,” Mertz said.

Regarding the engineering plan, the board’s action is the first step
in a multi-stage process that could ultimately lead to new facilities
at UAA and UAF, though funding is not requested at this time. The
Alaska Legislature provided UA with $8 million in planning and design
money for facilities on both campuses in FY11. Additional state funds
would be needed in the future for UAA and UAF to carry out the plan.

Engineering enrollment and graduation on both campuses has increased,
with graduates expected to double by 2014. Space at both engineering
schools is cramped, and the laboratories are not up to current
standards. Alaska’s annual requirement for new and replacement
mechanical, civil, petroleum, electrical and other engineers outpaces
UA’s capacity, even with graduates doubling. The UA engineering plan
also represents years of collaboration between the system’s two
largest campuses.

In other action, the board approved an Associate of Applied Science
degree in paramedicine at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and
reaffirmed a joint doctoral degree between UAA and UAF in clinical
community psychology. The board also approved schematic design for a
wellness center upgrade at Prince William Sound Community College in
Valdez; the new sports arena at the University of Alaska Anchorage;
and the new career and technical education center and student housing
projects at Kenai Peninsula College. Those projects were approved in a
statewide general obligation vote last year. A plan to spend $37.5
million in deferred maintenance projects was approved, as was a list
of projects included within a $50 million bond sale. The legislature
and governor provided the deferred maintenance money and bonding
authority last year.

In other business, regents approved an 8.5 percent salary increase for
UA President Pat Gamble, bringing his annual salary to $320,075,
closer but still below the market median for similar positions
nationally. Members of the board said Gamble’s performance has been
exemplary, noting in particular a new spirit of teamwork and
collaboration between campuses.
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