Op-Ed: A Place for You, A Place for Fresh Starts
Written by Sean Parnell
Fall semester is an exciting time at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) as students, faculty, and staff return. I am energized and hopeful for what the future holds as we begin the new academic year. UAA’s budget is now established with the Alaska Performance Scholarship, Alaska Education Grant, and WWAMI funding secured. Seawolf Alpine skiing, hockey, and gymnastics, the three athletic programs previously slated for discontinuation, have been reinstated thanks to the support of over 1,200 university boosters and fans. It is truly a bright new day at UAA.
I am inspired by the resilience of UAA’s students, faculty and staff in the face of unprecedented hardships ranging from budget cuts to a pandemic. It is a big part of why I wanted to lead the state’s largest university. I wholeheartedly support the mission of UAA and am excited for the opportunity to be a part of the university’s fresh start and commitment to creating educational pathways for all Alaskans. That is what has motivated me since stepping into my role as chancellor earlier this summer.
I am hopeful for our institution’s future and remain guided by the university’s mission to put students first. l can assure you that we will continue to invest in our students through real-world and hands-on learning opportunities, access to undergraduate research, and the ability to utilize cutting-edge technology in their chosen degree path. We know the value of providing these resources so our students can become our future community and state leaders.
Recently the UA Board of Regents voted unanimously to establish a Bachelor of Arts degree program in early childhood education at UAA. Additionally, the Council Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) has granted accreditation at the advanced level to the School of Education for post-baccalaureate or graduate programs leading to licensure, certification, or endorsement. These developments allow us to continue to bolster the state’s education workforce with qualified teachers and educators.
We will continue to listen and engage Alaska’s employers to ensure our degree and certificate programs are valuable and connect our students directly to job and career opportunities once they graduate. In response to state and municipal needs to help Alaska’s workforce upscale and retool to grow our economy, UAA introduced a suite of Fast Track Career Certificates to help individuals acquire new skills quickly to reenter the workforce or energize their current career. The certificate programs are based on current and emerging state economic trends, as well as feedback from industry partners and state and local officials regarding real-time employment needs. You can learn more about these, including program descriptions, course listings, salary data and how to apply, here.
These ongoing collaborative efforts are now bolstered by $3 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated by the Municipality of Anchorage. This makes it possible for UAA to provide scholarships, plus housing stipends, for up to 300 eligible students as they enroll in the university’s certificate programs.
UAA, with campuses in Anchorage, Mat-Su, Kenai, Homer, Kodiak and Valdez, is a valuable asset to our state. We will continue to rise and meet challenges as they come while remaining steadfast in our commitment to provide students the opportunity to create a thriving future for themselves and their families.
As new chancellor, I am dedicated to supporting the university’s next chapter and ushering in opportunities for new and returning students. No matter what stage of life or point in your career, the options for continued education and advancement at UAA are limitless.