Bachelor's degree in Yup'ik up for UA regents' approval
Submitted by Kate Ripley
The University of Alaska Board of Regents will review a proposed new Bachelor of Arts degree in Yup'ik language when it meets next week on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. The two-day meeting starts at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 and is scheduled to wrap up by 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6.
The meeting will take place in Room 107 of the Lee Gorsuch Commons. The board will take public testimony at approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Thursday.
The proposed bachelor's degree will allow students to pursue advanced study of Yup'ik through the Kuskokwim campus in Bethel, which is under the umbrella of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Up to 15 students are expected to enroll, university officials said.
The program is designed to meet specific local needs expressed by Bethel region schools, communities and students. However, university officials believe the program will serve as a strong model for additional indigenous language programs throughout the state.
"As awareness of language and cultural importance continues to grow throughout Alaska, requests for training programs that emphasize language proficiency are likely to increase," said UAF's Bernice Joseph, vice chancellor for rural, community and native education and dean of the College of Rural and Community Development. "The Kuskokwim campus has a long history of teaching Yup'ik language classes and a strong language faculty, but this will be the first four-year degree program offered."
The Kuskokwim campus worked closely with UAF's Alaska Native Language Center to develop this program. The Bethel campus currently offers associate degrees that focus on Yup'ik. The new program will provide students the opportunity to go directly from those two-year programs to the four-year bachelor's degree. The program, if approved, will use both traditional classroom teaching as well as online and distance learning.
"The proposed BA in Yup'ik language and studies is an exciting and timely development---children still speak Yup'ik as their first language," said Mary Pete, Kuskokwim Campus director. "As immersion programs expand, teaching staff in the region are looking to Kuskokwim Campus for leadership as they enhance their own skills and credentials."
The board meeting includes several other agenda items of note, including reviewing design and cost of the new parking garage at UAA, needed for the Integrated Sciences building currently under construction. The project already has $3.5 million in hand; the additional $13.5 million would be financed with annual debt service paid by parking fees. In addition, renovations at UAF's Wood Center food court require an additional $750,000, due to increased costs related to construction.
In other expected business, regents will hear updates on student success initiatives being discussed by faculty groups and the status of an external review of UAF's Cooperative Extension Service. Board members also will consider a proposed revenue bond sale not to exceed $25.8 million, which would include the UAA parking garage as well as numerous other previously approved and reported university projects.
Board members will attend a luncheon with members of alumni associations from throughout the UA system on Wednesday and attend an evening reception hosted by UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer.
The 11-member board oversees the 16-campus UA system, which includes three urban hubs in Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks and 13 community campuses, from Ketchikan to Kotzebue.
To view the complete agenda, go to www.alaska.edu/bor. Or call Kate Ripley at 907-450-8102.