|  September 19, 2014  |  
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UA Board of Regents votes unanimously to approve UA’s Strategic Direction Initiative

In a surprise move the University of Alaska Board of Regents took time out of the regularly scheduled board meeting on Sept. 28, to show full support for President Pat Gamble’s efforts to move to Phase II of the Strategic Direction Initiative (SDI).

In contrast to Phase I, which centered on gathering information through listening sessions and reports, Phase II is unified by a course of action called mobilization. All of the input and information gathered through Phase I will be used to start a continual improvement process, so the university can become more effective. Information from Phase I will be distributed to each major administrative unit and university governance groups, and they will identify the most urgent university issues both systemwide and issues related to specific campuses. Solutions to identified needs will come later in the process.

SDI is designed to focus on continuous improvement, especially with respect to student success and service to students. The continual improvement is flexible and will refine the university system to reflect changes within students, the economy and the state climate.

The goal of SDI is to affect change that will make the University of Alaska the “University of First Choice” for stakeholders. Regent Dale Anderson said, “SDI confirmed my commitment to serve on the Board of Regents. I very much appreciate the openness of discussions with staff, faculty and students.”

As part of recognizing the university’s 100-year anniversary, the university has explored ways to become more productive and aligned with students and the people of the state in an effort called “Shaping Alaska’s Future 2017.” The Strategic Direction Initiative is the plan for the organizational change.

In Phase I the university held 80 listening sessions with students, faculty, staff, business leaders and employers, elected officials, alumni, donors, K-12 partners and community members asking how the UA System could be more productive and aligned with priorities of students, employers and the people of the state.

The board also approved the two percent tuition increase for undergraduate residents, graduate residents and graduate non-resident tuition rate and a four percent increase to the undergraduate non-resident rate. The public testimony on Sept. 27, from student leaders from the University of Alaska Southeast included general support and appreciation of the limited tuition increase. Vice President of the Union of Students for the Anchorage campus Andrew McConnell expressed it best saying, "Students support the decrease in the increase, yet understand that it is still an increase. " Student Regent Mari Freitag voted in support of the tuition increase.

Multiple construction and maintenance projects throughout the state were approved on Friday. Approved projects include: UAA Mat-Su Campus master plan amendment for the Valley Center for Arts and Learning and the resolution for UAF Student Housing and Dining. Formal project approval was obtained for the UAA Allied Health Sciences Building Renovation, UAF Toolik Field Station 2012 Capital Improvements and UAF Fine Arts Complex Vapor Barrier Project. Also approved were schematics designs of UAA Engineering and Industry Building, UAA MAC Housing Renewal Phase 1, UAA Beatrice McDonald Hall Renewal, UAS Freshman Student Housing (Banfield Hall Addition) and the UAF Campuswide Energy Fairbanks Campus.

The Regents had their first look at the draft FY14 operating and capital budgets. The FY14 budget will be approved at the November Regent’s meeting in Anchorage.

Regents also enjoyed a tour of the Juneau Forestry Science Laboratory currently under construction. The tour included a visit to the construction site, viewing construction techniques, lab space and discussion of the collaborative potential between Forest Service research scientists, university faculty and students because of the strategic location of the labs adjacent to UAS property.

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