Regents meeting focuses on approvals and public testimony; UA leaders map out next steps for SDI
by Ted Kincaid |
ANCHORAGE -- Students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to testify to the University
of Alaska Board of Regents during a two-day meeting in Anchorage Feb. 21 and 22. A
group of approximately 15 students and faculty came forward to request smoke free
campuses in the UA system, while many others testified in support of programs and
plans on the board's agenda. The quality of testimony added an element of personal
engagement to an agenda packed with consent items, curriculum changes, campus planning
updates and bond considerations.
During its business meeting, the board approved a bond resolution for general revenue and refunding bonds. The regents also approved the establishment of a quasi-endowment to receive and hold fees collected by the University of Alaska Museum of the North from government agencies and individuals for the purpose of maintaining archeological artifacts. This quasi-endowment will be managed and invested by the UA Foundation.
The board also approved deletion of three master's programs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF): the Master of Science in General Science; the Master of Arts in Teaching in Mathematics; and the Master of Arts in Teaching in Physics degree programs. Regents went on to approve master plans at the UAF College of Rural and Community Development (CRCD) and Community and Technical College (CTC). The board also approved schematic designs for a UAF Fine Arts Complex Vapor Barrier; UAF Bristol Bay Campus Applied Sciences; and for the UAF Utilities Wood Center Vault.
Partnerships with Alaska's public and private industries became a prominent theme throughout the meeting. A presentation showcasing University of Alaska Anchorage's Aviation program of excellence delivered by students, faculty, alumni and industry leaders generated a dynamic discussion about the UAA aviation program. The presentation highlighted program components, its growth in recent years, and its current and predicted future demand by students, industry and the state of Alaska.
Vice President of University Relations Carla Beam shared a lighter message while delivering the UA Foundation Report. "Last year, generous companies, foundations, and individuals donated more than $22 million to UA campuses and programs. I don't think any of those gifts challenged our development officers more than this week's gift of a pair of Boeing 727 jets donated by FedEx to the UAA and UAF campus aviation programs. One of the jets was given special permission to do a short runway landing at Anchorage's Merrill Field. Our development officer now knows all about landing permits, fuel weights, de-icing procedures, and weather minimums."
Ian Van Tets, director of the Della Keats Health Sciences Summer Program, also captivated the regents with his testimony about the UAA bridging program for high school students and the continued outreach showing UA's productive partnerships with Alaska's schools. Newly appointed Regent Gloria O'Neill carried much of the discussion using knowledge from her previous experiences and expressed her support for and admiration of the program.
In other business, the board was among the first to preview the launch of the UAA's first comprehensive brand campaign which highlights effort toward student achievement and attainment: "Amazing Stories Being Written Every Day." The campaign highlights the accomplishments of students, faculty and alumni through a statewide television, radio, online and social media campaign. The goal of the campaign hopes to increase the visibility of the quality research and teaching happening at Anchorage's hometown university. Regents uniformly reflected appreciation for the recent branding efforts taking place at both UAA and UAF campuses. Chair Pat Jacobson expressed it best by saying, "The creative elements of these campaigns have captured the unique personality of each campus and the diversity of the students who attend."
A presentation by Terry MacTaggart regarding the progress of the Strategic Direction Initiative (SDI) recapped the SDI Leadership Conference held Feb. 20, prior to the board meeting. Leadership from UA, UAA, UAF, UAS, and community campuses across Alaska gathered at UAA to begin building on the Board of Regents' vision of becoming the university of choice for Alaskans. The conference was designed to shift from gathering and processing input, (SDI Phase Two) to doing, (SDI Phase Three). During the conference, attendees approved the five strategic direction themes:
* Student Achievement and Attainment
* Productive Partnerships with Alaska's Schools
* Productive Partnerships with Alaska's Public and Private Industries
* Research and Development to Sustain Alaska's Communities and Economic Growth
* Accountability to the People of Alaska
The leaders also identified and discussed possible initiatives to begin working on and the role that the University of Alaska would play in supporting those initiatives.