Regents of the University of Alaska spent the day before their March meeting talking individually with legislators to press for full funding of the university's Fiscal Year 2002 $16.9 million operating budget request. University President Mark R. Hamilton met with legislators, and also addressed the Juneau and Alaska State Chamber of Commerce Business Roundtable luncheon on Thursday, March 8.
Regents approved the establishment of a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program at UAA. The program's first major, physician assistant, will permit degree completion for approximately 100 of Alaska's practicing physician's assistants, and prepare six new physician's assistants annually in conjunction with the University of Washington for practice in rural Alaska. Future majors based on Alaska's workforce needs might also include occupational and physical therapy and vocational rehabilitation programs.
An administration request to convert the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) current Education Specialist degree in cross-cultural education to a Master's Degree program in cross-cultural studies was also approved. This will serve to broaden the applicability and appeal of the degree/coursework currently available for graduate students under the education specialist degree to fields beyond education that also involve cross-cultural issues.
Following a comprehensive review process, the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges' Commission on Colleges reaffirmed UAA's accreditation for another 10 years. "We received the report of the evaluation committee with great pride," said UAA Chancellor Lee Gorsuch. "Not only did they find that we have progressed, they applauded aspects of every campus, college and school."
Regents unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement with a university union, the 250 member Alaska Higher Education Crafts and Trades Employees Union. Local 6070, after union members had ratified the three-year pact. The agreement goes into effect immediately and will run through the end of 2003.
The board approved a 1.5 percent increase to the university non-union staff salary schedule. Non-union staff last received a salary grid adjustment in January 1994 in the amount of three percent. The 1.5 percent adjustment will go into effect July 1, 2001, contingent upon legislative funding. Cost of the increase will be $1.5 million for Fiscal Year 2002.
Acquisition of additional land around UAF's Poker Flat Research Range was authorized by the regents. The administration will proceed to acquire the land necessary to ensure safe rocket launches and related operations at the range, subject to funding availability.
Regents approved the Declaration of Trust for the University of Alaska Savings Trust, and also adopted a revised policy to facilitate implementation of the College Savings Program which will include transition of the Advance College Tuition program into the new College Savings Program.
Action on a revised Regents' Policy on tuition and student fees was postponed until the next board meeting, which is scheduled for June 7 and 8 in Fairbanks. The board's Academic and Student Affairs Committee plans to hold a meeting in mid-April, probably in Anchorage. Purpose of the meeting is to discuss teacher education, and, if possible, meet with the State Board of Education.
Diane Barrans, executive director of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, and Joe Beedle, vice president for finance of the University of Alaska, briefed the regents on the proposed Alaska Student Loan program entitled "Alaska Advantage" and its companion legislation.
President Hamilton and Pat Pitney, director of Budget and Institutional Research for the university, discussed with regents the university's missions and measures submission to the legislature. Performance measures for each state agency and the university are required by legislation passed last year. The university's submission addresses increasing the number of Alaska high school graduates who attend UA, increasing the number of eligible UA Scholars who choose to attend UA, retention of UA baccalaureate degree graduates in Alaska, and a number of other areas that will help legislators and the public evaluate UA's performance.
In other actions, regents approved the university's 2001 land management development plan approved resolutions of appreciation for Regent Joshua B. Horst whose term as student regent expires this spring. Dr. Daniel M. Johnson, UAA provost, who has been named president of the University of Toledo in Ohio will assume his new post on July 1, 200l approved the new University of Alaska Southeast mission statement.