UA Statewide Briefs

College starts early for Kenai students

KENAI – Almost 150 high school seniors in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School are jumping at the advantages of JumpStart. The borough-subsidized program is providing students with a waiver that cuts the costs of college credits from $128 to $35.

Up to six credits per semester are available to students, beginning the summer after their junior year of high school. A student who is taking full advantage of the program, 18 credits at the discounted rate, can save $1,674 over regular tuition rates. This is more than the 2007 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend.

Homer High School seniors are leading the pack with 41 students taking advantage of the JumpStart program this semester, closely followed by Seward High School and Soldotna High School, who have the second highest number of seniors attending Kenai Peninsula College campuses.

Humanities courses such as English, communications and philosophy are more popular than other subject areas with JumpStart students. Social sciences like anthropology, journalism, justice, psychology, sociology and political science are the second most popular courses for the students to take. Math and natural sciences are decidedly less popular amongst the JumpStart students.

All of the discipline’s listed contain courses are general education requirements that all college students must take, regardless of the degree that they are seeking. Most of the courses have a value of 3 credits and provide students with basic college-level knowledge that allows them to be successful in other the college classes they can take in pursuit of whatever degree program that they choose. A student who takes full advantage of the JumpStart program can complete six GERs toward a college degree by the time they graduate high school.

UA budget focuses on job preparation

FAIRBANKS – The UA Board of Regents approved an operating budget request to prepare Alaskans for jobs in Alaska. The job focus includes areas of health care, engineering and fisheries.

The budget request includes $319.6 million in state general funds, a 9 percent increase over the current state share and more than $536 million in university-generated revenue from tuition, federal research grants and other sources.

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The board said the budget request supports the state’s needs in workforce training. UA research and student success initiatives were included in the 2009 system budget.

UA President Mark Hamilton said the university’s revenue growth comes from grant-funded research, tuition and private donations.

Increased state support of UA programs is crucial, he added.

Mike Powers, chief executive officer for Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and Denali Center, testified in support of UA’s budget request. He said the university is an important partner in its healthcare workforce.

The university has added 100 new degree and certificate programs in the last nine years. The university system attracts more than 62 percent of Alaska high-school students, according to UA reports.

Regents approved a request of $50 million in state general funds for ongoing renewal of facilities. The capital request, which totals $306 million in state general funds, also includes $66 million toward the first phase of UAF’s proposed biological research facility, $46 million for a new joint health care training facility with Anchorage-area hospitals at UAA and $70 million to address a backlog on maintenance projects across the system.

The budget requests will be sent to the governor and legislature for approval.

Former psychology professor, renowned researcher dies

Todd Risley, UAA Professor Emeritus and former member of the psychology faculty, died Nov. 2 in Palmer. Risley was 70 years old and was a pioneer in applied behavioral analysis. Risley also focused on people who needed help, like children in institutions and those with autism.

From 1988 to 1990, Risley was director of the Alaska Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. In 2000, he won major awards for his work in the fields of psychology, developmental disabilities and the care of disabled children and adults.

Risley showed great concern for research that might better the lives of people and foster “dignity for the individual,” said Karen Ward, psychology professor and director of the UAA Center for Human Development. “He was a wonderful guy – brilliant, brilliant.”

Risley studied autism at the University of Washington in the 1960s, said Bob Madigan, former chair of UAA’s psychology deptartment.

“He started out working with autistic kids, but then went much further, looking into better ways to do day care and so forth.”

Before coming to UAA in the mid-1980s, Risley spent more than 20 years at the University of Kansas, where he was a professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science and senior scientist at the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies. He continued to be associated with the university as an adjunct instructor until June 30 this year.

“He would typically work with handicapped and dependent populations, institutionalized kids, and kids with serious problems,” Madigan said. “There was some nursing-home work. He worked with police departments.”

In Anchorage, he set up an intensive early-intervention autism program that he recruited students for to work with troubled children for 40 hours a week. Risley, who attended high school in Anchorage, took an active interest in his community.