University of Alaska Board of Regents Addresses Racial Justice, Tuition Increases at UAF, FY22 Budget
Aerial view of the UAF campus.
In its November 6 meeting, the University of Alaska Board of Regents addressed several critical university system issues, including setting a high priority for racial diversity, equity, and inclusion; approving an operating budget for Fiscal Year 2022; and increasing upper division and graduate class tuition rates at UAF.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents set a high priority on UA’s commitment to racial diversity, equity, and inclusion during its November 6 meeting. The board unanimously adopted a motion that directs the university president to take the steps necessary to understand the university climate and academic programming and identify the barriers, challenges, and opportunities to improve participation and outcomes for Alaska Native and Indigenous students, faculty, and staff.
In recent weeks, university leadership has been meeting with several groups concerned about racial injustice and institutional bias and has been discussing a review similar to the one the regents have now officially requested. The board asked for a report assessing these issues, including data and all other relevant information so that it can provide informed direction to address them. The report is due to the board by its June 2021 meeting.
“We understand and agree that in order to create meaningful change, we must develop a comprehensive, consistent plan with benchmarks that supports our Alaska Native faculty and students and all faculty and students of color,” says UA Interim President Pat Pitney.
FY22 Operating Budget
In other action, the board approved an operating budget that reflects the amount established in a three-year compact agreement with Governor Mike Dunleavy and passed a fiscal year 2022 state appropriation request of $257 million—$20 million less than the current fiscal year. Regents also approved a limited capital budget request that includes funding for necessary deferred maintenance, debt relief, and COVID-related impacts.
“The University of Alaska has dealt with state budget reductions totaling $120 million, one third of its base funding, since fiscal year 2014.” Pitney says. “As we move forward, UA will continue to offer a solid core foundation of quality programs on which our communities, the state and industries can depend. UA’s programs are fundamental to Alaska’s economic recovery. We are dedicated to educating Alaskans for the jobs that support diversification and growth of the economy. UA has managed the dramatic reductions and seeks support from industry, community, and state leaders for stability after the compact.”
Pitney is prioritizing the importance of the programs across the three universities—UAF, UAA, and UAS—and started the board meeting with the new “Did You Know” series designed to highlight the breadth, excellence, and collaboration of the programs across the UA system. The presentation focused on the growth of the engineering programs and a video highlighting the personal success story of engineering alum Ben Kellie [UAF ’10].
“Our goal is to keep university stakeholders informed about our key role in changing lives and shaping the state’s economy,” Pitney says. “These personal stories illustrate the university’s many successes and the vital and profound impact it has on graduates, industry and Alaska’s economy.”
Tuition at UAF
The board agreed to explore differentiated tuition rates recognizing the different missions of UA’s three universities. Specifically, the board agreed to a higher tuition rate for upper division and graduate level classes at UAF beginning in the fall of 2021. The increase brings UAF more in line with the tuition rates levied at peer research universities in the western states. There was no tuition increase proposed for either UAA or UAS or for lower division classes at UAF.
The board acknowledged the impact of private giving after the recent fundraising effort UA Giving Day raised nearly $700,000 for programs and scholarships from more than 1,100 donors. Increasing private support for the university is another component of the compact with the governor as a means to diversify revenue and become less reliant on state funding.
The board unanimously approved resolutions of appreciation for Regents Dale Anderson and Gloria O’Neill, whose eight-year terms will end in early 2021. Board members and university leaders thanked them for their leadership, service, and many contributions to the university.
In board officer elections for the coming year, all regents were elected to continue in their current roles: Sherri Buretta chair, Karen Perdue vice chair, Dale Anderson secretary, and Lisa Parker treasurer.
In This Issue
Alaska Problems Require Alaska Solutions
On January 16, a fire destroyed the water plant and washeteria in the southwest Alaska village of Tuluksak. For the village of about 350 people, it was a devastating blow. The water plant was the only source of drinking water in the village, in which the primarily Yup’ik residents lack indoor plumbing and rely on honey buckets, not uncommon in the flat, swampy region.