September 2009

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I traveled to the East Coast this month and met with UAA alumni in New York as well as other university and business colleagues who share an interest in what we are working on accomplishing at UAA. From our research on climate change to our engineering program, UAA is making an impact and contributing in ways that will assist individuals and communities to grow and adapt in our ever-changing world.

It was wonderful to provide UAA alumni an update of what is happening on our campus. With last month's opening of the new ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building (CPISB) and this month's official opening of the UAA Confucius Institute -- one of only 61 in the country and the only one in Alaska -- we have much to be proud of at UAA.

This semester we welcomed our first group of Seawolf Opportunity Scholarship (SOS) students. SOS was made possible by the $7 million anonymous donation to UAA last spring. This donation, the largest cash gift ever received by the University of Alaska, provides needs-based support to students who are the first in their family to go to college. Fifty students were provided the SOS this year. Of those, 68 percent were female and 48 percent were ethnic minorities.

And this week, the new CPISB Parking Garage opened, expanding parking opportunities on campus. All vehicles with a valid permit -- fall platinum, restricted use brown, annual and fall yellow, and annual and fall green, as well as Pay-N-Park permits may park in the new garage!

Save the date for the public grand opening of the CPISB, which is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m. There will be fun events for the whole family including a special show in our new planetarium!

It could not be a better time to welcome the accreditation evaluation team from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) to UAA. UAA has volunteered, along with three other institutions in the region, to serve as a pilot institution in the development of a new accreditation process. I hope that you'll have an opportunity to meet with evaluators who will be on campus from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. For information on the accreditation process, please see .

It is our goal to continue to improve and strive for excellence in stewardship, sustainability and service -- by this we mean to use our resources well as we provide a place for learning, to be environmentally sound in our practices and to serve our community.

We are taking a lead in sustainability. As a member of the first Green District in our state, we are working with our U-Med partners to become more environmentally friendly. But we cannot rest on our laurels -- we have much more to do!

University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rogers has challenged UAA to compete with UAF for a "Sustainability Cup." Although we currently have a better score than UAF -- last year's College Sustainability Report Card gave UAA an overall grade of C+ and UAF a C- -- we will have to do more to improve our performance. UAF has already taken steps to improve their grade; UAF students have assessed themselves $20 per semester to fund their sustainability efforts.

Our Director of Sustainability, Paula Williams, has many ideas to help us improve our score. Some of you have already signed up to serve on committees to help us use less electricity, drive to work less and reduce our paper usage. There are things each of us can do to help. Watch for the "call to action." We all need to pitch in and work to reduce our impact on the environment. And, by the way, win the Sustainability Cup competition!

As I write this I am awaiting the arrival of my first grandchild. It is an exciting time that makes me appreciate even more the important work we are doing at UAA providing leadership in research, learning and service to make this a better world for us all.

Q: What did the Board of Regents decide at their recent meeting in Juneau?
A: Last week the Board of Regents met in Juneau and approved a bachelor's degree program in nutrition and dietetics at UAA to build on our health care career track. A certificate in corrections -- supported by the state Department of Corrections -- was approved to be offered by Kenai Peninsula College at its Soldotna and Homer campuses. The Board also approved schematic design for the first phase of a renovation project of the Science Building at UAA. Student housing renovations at Prince William Sound Community College -- to be paid for with federal grant money -- were also approved.

UAF received approval for an energy technology building budgeted at $29.6 million -- with funding still to be secured. A graduate certificate in construction management was also approved for UAF. Both UAA and UAF offer associate's degrees in construction management, and UAA has a bachelor's program.

Regents approved a tuition rate increase to $154 per credit for lower-level courses and $187 for upper level credits to start in fall 2011. Regents attribute the need for an increase to hire new faculty and enhance programs. It is our hope that this increase will not deter those who look to UAA for their educational needs.

Q: How are the Alaska Humanities Forum and UAA partnering to help village high school student transition to college?
A: UAA and the Alaska Humanities Forum received a three-year $1.62 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help 50 Alaska Native students from the Lower Yukon and Lower Kuskokwim School Districts transition from their rural culture to an urban post-secondary campus experience. The project will recruit students in their sophomore year of high school and provide opportunities over three years for urban campus immersion at either UAA or the Alaska Job Corps Center in Palmer.

Q: How are UAA Architecture and Drafting class students helping the community?
A: After a meeting with Reverend Kay Shock and receiving a tour of the facility, each student was retained to provide design concepts for a new sanctuary for the Jewel Lake Presbyterian/Methodist church. Students presented their designs for a new parish at Jewel Lake on September 24.




Q: What happened at the 17th Annual Celebrity Chef International?
A: The event was a whopping success with over $50,000 pledged to benefit UAA's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program. Acclaimed New Orleans Chef John Besh was the featured chef and served a Southern-inspired menu to the sold out crowd.

Q: How will coastal communities in western Alaska and northeast Russia benefit from a $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant and UAA researchers?
A: NSF awarded $3 million to the Bering Sea Sub Network (BSSN), a regional initiative connecting coastal communities in western Alaska and northeast Russia, for systematic gathering of local observations on the changing environment around the economically important Bering Sea. The five-year project is implemented by the Resilience and Adaptive Management Group at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Aleut International Association as a partnership between scientists practicing in both western and indigenous traditions.

Q: How is the UA Center for Economic Development helping small businesses in Alaska hook up with the resources they need?
A: AKSourceLink is a community referral network that promotes entrepreneurship across the state by facilitating access to information. AKSourceLink consists of nonprofit organizations, university programs and government agencies that provide resources to promote the success of small businesses, especially in Alaska's remote rural communities. AKSourceLink was launched with the generous support of the Denali Commission. The UA Center for Economic Development took the responsibility for coordinating the startup, launch and implementation of AKSourceLink. AKSourceLink is already being recognized. It is selected as one of the three winning finalists for the University Economic Development Association's (UEDA) 2009 Awards of Excellence Competition.

Did you know:

  • Ivy Spohnholz, Senior Development Officer in UAA Advancement, has been named Alaska Fundraising Professional of the Year. The award recognizes an outstanding individual fundraising professional who works directly for a nonprofit, charitable organization in Alaska. Ivy will receive the award at the AFP Alaska Philanthropy Day Luncheon, Friday, Nov. 13.
  • Dr. Shannon Donovan with the geography and environmental studies department at the University of Alaska Anchorage was recently hired by the University of Alaska and Alaska EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research).
  • URS is funding a new graduate engineering fellowship at UAA, the first privately-funded, internally-administered graduate fellowship in the School of Engineering.
  • The Northern Light has been chosen as a finalist for the 2009 Associated College Press (ACP) Newspaper Pacemaker awards. The awards note excellence and outstanding achievement in college newspaper journalism. Former photo editor Serine Halverson's photo was also selected as an ACP Pacemaker feature photo award finalist.
  • Enrollment is up 2.7 percent at UAA, with an additional 464 students. Headcount is up at Anchorage (3 percent, 408 students), Kenai (21 percent, 331 students), and Mat-Su (12 percent, 161 students). Headcount is down at Kodiak (-22 percent, down 107 students) and also down at Prince William Sound Community College (-20 percent, down 145 students). First-time, full-time freshmen at UAA has increased 22 percent, with 381 more students.

As always, thank you for all you do to make UAA a great university!


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