The Board of Regents held a meeting Sept. 27 in Juneau where they approved $40,000,000 in campus renovations across the University of Alaska system, most of which on the Anchorage campus. According to the Board of Regents website, $123,200,000 were approved at this campus. These renovations include a new engineering building and two new parking garages.
The engineering building will be about 150 yards south of the Student Union cafeteria. One parking garage will be attached to the new engineering building, while the other will be freestanding.
No timeline was discussed for when these buildings will be added to the campus.
“We want to help students in any way that we can. And if parking is a hindrance on their education, we want to fix that,” said Bruce Shultz, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, explaining the reason behind the parking garages.
Another possible addition to the campus will be provided through a program referred to as “Green and Gold H2O” — its objective is to install water faucet “hydration stations” in various locations around campus. This would allow students to refill bottles of water, and, in turn, save money and consume less plastic. These are estimated to cost $1,600 each.
USUAA also voted on a referendum that promotes a 25 percent student fee increase for all on campus UAA classes. Senator Johnnie Templeton, Senator Andrew Lessig, and Senator Seen So proposed this as a means to support some student life groups that are currently struggling financially.
While his proposition would accumulate $40,000 to $60,000 annually, directly from students’ pockets, the committee deferred the vote to Oct. 4 because of a lack of research to determine how much money is actually needed.
If the referendum is passed at the USUAA level, UAA students will have one month’s worth of advertisements to make an informed decision regarding the increase. In the end, the decision is entirely up to the UAA student body.
The Board of Regents also approved $12,132,000 to upgrade the existing six building apartment complexes and surrounding grounds by replacing finishes, fixtures and equipment. The money also goes toward updating buildings to local, state and federal codes and laws.
Bruce Shultz, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, discussed a new student assistance division for first-year students, called the “First-Year Students” division. It will encompass registration, admission, advising and on-campus housing for all first-year students.
At the USUAA meeting, Shultz asked the student body for an informal show of hands to see who felt that their transition into their first year at UAA was smooth and stress-free. Not one hand was raised.
Shultz elaborated on the reasoning behind the new division. “The goal for us is to help transfer students into the university, to help them be successful, and to help them graduate.”
Shultz went on to explain that student affairs start as early as fifth grade for possible future UAA students. He shared that he thinks this program will be a great addition of support for incoming and new students.
There was discussion of the role of advising and whether or not it should be mandatory. The advising role is being put on the staff of each individual department. UAA does not want to implement mandatory advising for the sake of students who live in rural areas.
Shultz was sure to emphasize that 40 percent of UAA students are first-generation college students, and, while he does see advising as beneficial, he does not believe it should be mandatory.
Regarding the stay on track program, he made a comment reflecting UAA’s revised campaign.
“Instead of a two- or four-year plan, make a plan and stick to it,” Shultz said.
“Class of 2014” through “Class of 2017” beanies are now available to help keep students motivated to stay faithful to their educational goals.
USUAA Vice President Andrew McConnell said, “I think this program (Stay on Track) is very effective, and I know many students feel the same way.”
Also, a graduate student survey was recently conducted amongst the UAA student body and the results were discussed. Most graduate students agree that they do not feel there are enough upper-level courses.
As a result, some upper-level psychology classes were added and other departments are likely to follow suit.
A page specifically for graduate students is being added to Blackboard as soon as it is prepared. It is currently being plotted out.
There was also talk of an on-campus studying room for graduate students only. Several feel that they study during different hours than the average underclassman, and the room is planned to be open 24 hours a day, if arrangements are successful.