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UA Regents expand program options for students

Submitted by Kate Ripley
Phone: 907-388-3506

04/18/08

University of Alaska students have seven new programs to choose from, following a meeting of the Board of Regents Thursday and today in Ketchikan.

The board approved a new associate degree in playwriting at Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez, a doctorate degree in natural resources and sustainability at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and several new programs at the University of Alaska Southeast, including a pre-engineering certificate, associate degree in business, and master's of education degrees in educational leadership and mathematics. Most of the programs will be available starting in fall 2008.

Several of the programs provide collaborative opportunities between the campuses. For instance, the pre-engineering certificate at UAS will provide the foundational courses for students moving toward a Bachelor of Science degree at the larger campuses in Anchorage or Fairbanks. The master's degree in educational leadership will allow students to attend two intensive, six-week courses at UAS in Juneau, but also do coursework throughout the year in the students' home communities. Meanwhile, the doctorate degree in Fairbanks also provides collaborative opportunities with the University of Alaska Anchorage.

In addition to the packed academic agenda, regents toured the UAS Ketchikan facilities, including a technology center that features a simulated training program for mariners seeking U.S. Coast Guard certification. Dale Miller, an assistant professor of marine operations, provided regents the opportunity for a hands-on trial in front of a large, flat-screen simulator. As instructor, Miller can control the weather, traffic and other aspects of the simulator to put students through rigorous exercises.

Regents expressed concern about one outcome of the recent legislative session in Juneau. While grateful for nearly $8 million in increased funding for priority academic programs--only the fourth time in 20 years the legislature has provided specific money for programs---regents are troubled by seven separate appropriations by campus. For the last 15 years, UA has operated under a single appropriation from the state, allowing the system to jump-start high-demand programs and shift resources to where needs are greatest.

"As a body, we need to encourage the legislature to return to a single appropriation, which is in the best interest of our campuses, especially the rural campuses. The governor understands this," noted Board Chair Mary K. Hughes. "Regents serve for eight years as the trustees of public higher education in Alaska. We spend hours pouring over these budgets with our president and chancellors. The single appropriation has allowed the university to maintain programs and campuses that otherwise would have faced significant challenges."

The board also unanimously approved a resolution of appreciation for UAS Provost Robbie Stell, who has served 43 years in secondary and post-secondary education. Stell has worked at the university since 1969, when the UAS campus was known as the Juneau-Douglas Community College. She was associate professor of office administration and head of the business department and later served as director of business programs. Other positions in which she has served include the dean of the School of Business and Public Administration (now known as the School of Management), dean of vocational education and chancellor's assistant for academic affairs. She's been provost, the chief academic officer for UAS, since 1999.

A similar resolution of appreciation was unanimously approved for UAF Chancellor Steve Jones, who recently announced he is leaving his position after four years to pursue other opportunities closer to Lower 48 family members. Under Jones, UAF witnessed growth in research grants and contracts, private donations to the university and the number of degrees and certificates awarded. He also led the UAF Vision 2017 Task Force, a body of 55 opinion leaders who provided input to shape UAF's future.

The next meeting of the board will be June 18-19 in Anchorage.