May 23, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2024

University of Ӱԭ Regents approve FY25 budget distributions, make significant investments in system’s future at May board meeting

(ANCHORAGE) - The University of Ӱԭ (UA) Board of Regents praised the passage of key legislative priorities, made significant investments in the university’s future, and honored staff excellence at its May 22-23 Board Meeting in Anchorage. The positive outlook follows a successful academic year boasting increased enrollment, and a series of commencement ceremonies celebrating more than 2,800 graduates receiving degrees and certificates for Academic Year 2024.

“The University of Ӱԭ makes critical contributions to the state of Ӱԭ, and I’m incredibly pleased to see the successes we’ve achieved over the last year,” UA Board of Regents Chair Ralph Seekins said. “The Board remains focused on advancing Ӱԭ’s economy through education, workforce development, research, and strong partnerships across the state, and the effort of faculty and staff for our students is making that a reality. I congratulate the Class of 2024 on their graduation, and look forward to welcoming a new class of freshmen in the fall.” 

Regents added new academic offerings, and expanded the flagship UA Scholars Program award. The meeting comes as new survey results show Ӱԭns’ approval of and confidence in the UA system increased markedly over the last three years.

Legislative Priorities: Budgets and Supporting Student Success

While UA’s operating and capital budgets are still awaiting transmission to the governor, the Board approved spending plans that allow the university to prepare for fund distribution on July 1, the start of the fiscal year.

The university system’s FY25 state operating budget appropriation of $337 million, as approved by the Legislature, represents an approximately $28.5 million increase to base, and includes:

  • funding to address the negotiated 2.5 percent increases to compensation and the new graduate student union wages ($14 million); 
  • funding to cover operating cost increases such as insurance, cybersecurity, and utilities ($8.4 million); 
  • funding to improve UAA campus security ($416,000); and
  • one-time funding to support Ӱԭ’s goal of achieving R1 research designation ($5.4 million, plus additional $12.5 million from the Higher Education Investment Fund, and $2.1 million in receipt authority).

The capital budget includes $28.6 million for high-priority deferred maintenance projects, $10.0 million in state funds to support UA’s drone excellence, and the ability to use $5.6 million in federal receipts for Ӱԭ’s Early Childhood Development Center, among other items. Federal earmarks for the childcare facility, as well as $4.25 million in federal funding for schematic design to renovate the Sally Monserud Hall to expand UAA’s College of Health health workforce clinical training facilities, were secured thanks to the efforts of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski.

In the final hours of the legislative session, key university priorities passed in HB148, including:

  • Expansion and increased award amounts for the Ӱԭ Performance Scholarship (APS): All three levels of the APS award will increase between $1,100 to $2,200 per academic year, with expanded student eligibility. And, most importantly, students will know they are eligible for the award after their junior year rather than after graduation.
  • Legislation effectively reauthorizing the Technical Vocation and Education Program (TVEP): 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 a 50% tax credit for up to $3 million (up from $1 million) in contributions to educational institutions, and the program extends through 2029.

“We’re very pleased that both bodies passed our key priorities in HB148 before the end of the session,” said President Pitney. “These are all key programs for attracting Ӱԭ students, providing high-quality workforce training and collaborating directly with industry to develop programs that meet their employment and research needs.”

Building on Stability

Building on the positivity of the legislative session and commencements, Regents passed an expansion of the UA Scholars Program, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The top 10% of each Ӱԭ high school’s graduating class are eligible for the award, which can be used at any of UA’s universities. The changes increase the total award amount from $12,000 to $15,000, and extend the award's expiration from five to six years after the date of a student’s high school graduation. Pending the governor’s signature on HB 148, eligible students may receive between $900 and $1,500 in additional scholarships per semester thanks to the APS and UA Scholars changes.

“The Ӱԭ Performance Scholarship and the UA Scholars Program make education more accessible, and help us retain Ӱԭ’s best and brightest,” President Pitney remarked. “The legislature’s commitment to the Ӱԭ Performance Scholarship is instrumental in meeting Ӱԭ’s workforce needs. I appreciate their willingness to invest in our students and our state’s workforce in such a meaningful way.”

The Future of Education

Ӱԭ College of Education Consortium (ACEC) Liaison Bridget Weiss and UA’s education deans updated Regents on partnerships across UA’s education programs, outreach to school districts and external agencies, responses to the Ӱԭ Reads Act, teacher apprenticeship programs, and progress toward graduating more teachers for Ӱԭ. This past year, the UA Teacher Internship Scholarship awarded nearly $1.5 million to 82 aspiring teachers in the final years of their programs. Information about all of UA’s more than 2 dozen education programs is available at .

The Board also approved multiple new academic programs designed to directly meet Ӱԭ’s workforce needs and leverage existing university resources. They include:

  • Master of Science in School Psychology at UAA to help meet demand for school psychologists in Ӱԭ’s K-12 schools;
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Early Childhood PreK-3rd Grade at UAA, to help meet a growing state needs;
  • Bachelor of Science in Energy Resource Engineering at Ӱԭ designed to give students holistic skills in a variety of energy sectors; and
  • Bachelor of Arts in Wildlife Ecology and Society at Ӱԭ, to provide students with more diverse career options within the wildlife profession.

Recognizing University Excellence

During her introductory remarks, President Pitney congratulated Diane O’Brien, interim director of Ӱԭ’s Institute of Arctic Biology, on being elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the organization is considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive, and O’Brien is only the second Ӱԭ-based researcher to be elected to the organization, joining Terry Chapin, Ӱԭ professor emeritus of ecology, who was elected in 2004. O’Brien’s research focuses on public health and ecology, and the recognition acknowledges distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

President Pitney also recognized the winners of this year’s “Staff Makes Student Count Awards,” which celebrate staff from each university and the System Office who have made a difference in students' lives. Staff members are nominated by their peers, and each awardee receives a plaque, $1,000, and two Ӱԭ Airlines vouchers.

  • UAA: Jessica Salas, Transfer Credit Specialist in the Office of the Registrar, was recognized for her commitment to customer service, process improvement, and finding creative solutions to challenges.
  • Ӱԭ: Jordan McCree, Service Desk Analyst with Nanook Technology, streamlined the new student worker training to help new hires gain confidence with tools and processes, and is recognized for her ability to build a sense of team with the student workers.
  • UAS: Karl Sears, Housing Maintenance Coordinator, was noted for improving the student experience through his work in housing maintenance and as a supervisor of student Ӱԭs. 
  • System Office: Karessa Kramer, Fiscal Tech with the Education Trust of Ӱԭ, works behind the scenes to ensure that students receive their scholarships and college savings funds, and that the department’s accounts are reconciled accurately.

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.