May 20, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2024

University of Ӱԭ Regents to meet at conclusion of academic year as system celebrates major successes 

(FAIRBANKS) - The University of Ӱԭ (UA) Board of Regents will meet this week as the UA system ends a successful Academic Year 2024 on a high note with commencement celebrations statewide. The Class of 2024 benefited from recent fiscal stability, and combined with the Regents’ strategic guidance, efforts are paying off, fueling growing enrollment, positive public opinion, and increased research investment. The May 22-23, 2024, meeting at the University of Ӱԭ Anchorage (UAA) Campus follows a fortnight of commencement ceremonies, and passage of the university’s budget and key legislative priorities. 

“Academic Year 2024 has been marked by significant, meaningful progress for our system, and celebrating our graduating class is the perfect conclusion,” UA President Pat Pitney said. “The past two years of fiscal stability and intentional investment mean that our universities are building momentum. This momentum sets our students and graduates up for success to empower Ӱԭ and Ӱԭ’s economy.”

Looking Back: Highlighting a Year of Progress
Regents will hear updates on each of the three universities during the full board meeting on Thursday. More than 2,800 graduates are expected to receive degrees or certificates for Academic Year 2024 from UAA, the University of Ӱԭ Fairbanks (Ӱԭ), and the University of Ӱԭ Southeast (UAS). 

The commencements follow two consecutive years of enrollment growth, underscoring UA’s critical role in empowering Ӱԭ’s workforce, and growing public confidence in the university system. Since 2011, 26,948 students have graduated from programs relevant to the state's high-demand industries, and recent polling shows that 84% of Ӱԭns believe UA is a good investment for the state (up from 79% in 2021). Regents will receive a further briefing on those survey results during the meeting.

The 33rd regular legislative session wrapped up last week, and Regents will receive an update on key legislative priorities that passed and are awaiting the Governor’s signature. They include:

  • Expansion and increased award amounts for the Ӱԭ Performance Scholarship (APS): The APS award amount will increase to $7,000 (up from $4,755), and eligibility will be expanded to include students in technical and applied programs.
  • Legislation effectively reauthorizing the Technical Vocation and Education Program (TVEP) at current levels: Last year, UA trained 4,888 students with TVEP funds - 57% of all TVEP program participants.
  • Extension of the Education Tax Credit Program: Companies would be eligible to receive tax credits for up to $3 million (up from $1 million) in contributions to educational institutions, and the program extends through 2029.

“Ӱԭns' growing confidence in UA is well-placed,” remarked President Pitney. “I’m grateful to the Legislature for approving these priorities for our system, as they will further empower our efforts to support Ӱԭ’s workforce and economy.”

President Pitney will also present the “Staff Makes Student Count Awards,” which recognize staff from each university and the System Office who have made a difference in the lives of students. Staff members are nominated by their peers; and each awardee receives a plaque, $1,000, and two Ӱԭ Airlines vouchers.

Looking Forward: Budgets, Roadmap to Empower Ӱԭ, Teacher Education, and AI
Regents will review the FY25 operating and capital budgets passed by the legislature on Thursday, and adopt a tentative distribution plan. Both budgets must still be transmitted to and signed by the Governor. The budgets approved by the legislature include funding to support:

  • negotiated compensation increases (2.5%) for faculty and staff
  • negotiated compensation increases for graduate student Ӱԭs under the new CBA
  • deferred maintenance 
  • Ӱԭ’s drive to achieve Tier 1 (R1) research status

The Board will also receive an update on the Roadmap to Empower Ӱԭ, a strategic guidance framework approved in February that is built upon three pillars representing the Board’s long-term vision for the university system: 

  • financially responsible and future-focused;
  • state & Arctic leadership;
  • quality education and reputation.

“The Roadmap demonstrates that the Board is fully invested in and committed to the success of our universities,” UA President Pat Pitney said. “I look forward to continuing to show progress on the milestones they’ve identified as key to achieving our future potential.”

Ӱԭ College of Education Consortium (ACEC) Liaison Bridget Weiss will lead a presentation updating the board on the partnerships across our education programs and the progress toward graduating more teachers for Ӱԭ. highlights the various teacher education programs offered across the state. The presentation will include 82 aspiring teachers whose student teaching experiences were supported by the UA Teacher Internship Scholarship this academic year.

Chief Information Officer (CIO) Ben Shier will lead the board in a discussion on the use of generative AI (Gen AI) in a university setting, including potential uses, risks, and ways that faculty are managing it for academic and research uses. Although there are concerns over academic integrity as well as accuracy and bias in AI-generated work, there are exciting possibilities for the emerging technology. Navigating the rapidly changing landscape to effectively leverage Gen AI and related advances will require close partnership & alignment among the Board, faculty, staff, students, and administrators.

Committee Updates
During Wednesday’s committee meetings, the Audit and Finance Committee (8:00 a.m.) will receive an update on FY24 and FY25 audits and compliance, as well as review federal appropriations and requests for next year.

The Facilities & Land Management Committee (10:30 a.m.) will receive updates on multiple projects, including the Land Grant Initiative, Ӱԭ Leaders Archive, and planned renovation projects at all three universities. They will also consider revisions to facilities and procurement policy.

In the afternoon, the Academic & Student Affairs Committee (2:00 p.m.) will evaluate degree program changes and additions, and consider policy changes regarding academic units.

The full board will convene Thursday at 8:00 a.m. to work through items on the main agenda.

All committee meetings and the full board meeting will be held in Anchorage on the UAA Campus at the Lee Gorsuch Commons (Room 107); the agenda is available online.

All meetings, except any executive sessions, are public and will be livestreamed

The University of Ӱԭ Board of Regents is an 11-member volunteer board, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Ӱԭ Legislature. Members serve an eight-year term, with the exception of the student regent, who serves a two-year term. The Board was established through the Ӱԭ Constitution and is responsible for University of Ӱԭ policy and management through the university president.

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For more information, contact Jonathon Taylor, director of public affairs at 907-350-0168 (cell), or via email at jonathon.taylor@alaska.edu