February 23, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 23, 2024

Regents approve ‘Roadmap to Empower University of Alaska’, charting positive vision for future

(FAIRBANKS) - The (UA) Board of Regents today unanimously approved its updated strategic plan for the UA System amidst a backdrop of growing enrollment and a strong Arctic leadership position. The Regents’ “Roadmap to Empower University of Alaska” incorporates the past efforts on Goals and Measures into a new framework that prioritizes advancing ’s economy through education, workforce development, research, and strong partnerships across the state. Board approval comes as UA reported its third straight semester of enrollment growth, bucking national trends.

“UA has a bright future before it, and I’m pleased to see that demonstrated in the enrollment growth and other progress we’ve seen over the last few semesters,” Board Chair Ralph Seekins said. “The Roadmap to Empower University of Alaska and its pillars of financial responsibility and future focus, state and Arctic leadership, and quality education and reputation reflect the Board’s vision for the future of the system. I appreciate the engagement across the system as we’ve finalized the Roadmap, and look forward to seeing its continued implementation.”

The pillars are framed by system goals and guiding principles, and achieved by implementing related priority strategies, on which the board will monitor progress. The priority strategies are:

  • increasing student recruitment, graduation, and retention;
  • sustaining Facilities Maintenance and Modernization Plan;
  • achieving cost-efficient operations;
  • UAF reaching R1 research status in 2027;
  • Empower University of Alaska branding;
  • Arctic Leadership Initiative.

“Approval of the Roadmap to Empower University of Alaska is a meaningful milestone for UA, and I’m grateful to the Board for their attention and commitment to building a strong future for our University system,” UA President Pat Pitney remarked. “We’ll continue to refine our updates to the Board as we keep moving forward on these goals to Empower University of Alaska.”

Board members also heard updates on student enrollment and experiences on UA campuses. For Fall 2023, enrollment was up 2.6% over Fall 2023; six weeks into Spring 2024, student headcount was up 5.5% over Spring 2023, marking the third semester in a row of increased enrollment.

“Our enrollment growth - particularly that of first-time freshmen - is an exciting milestone and a good sign for the system,” President Pitney remarked. “The hard work of our faculty and staff is continuing to pay positive dividends for our students and businesses across .”

Empowering Academic Success: Scholarships and Workforce Programs

UA Foundation President Tod Burnett shared the organization’s 2023 Annual Report, and reminders about on March 26-28, 2024. Giving Day is the single largest fundraising effort across the UA System, and last year raised more than $1.3 million from a record 1,803 donors. 

During the Thursday Academic and Student Affairs committee meeting, Regents heard updates on academic programs across the system. College of Education Consortium (ACEC) Liaison Bridget Weiss provided an update on dual enrollment programs geared toward attracting students to teacher education programs, and discussed ACEC activity regarding the Reads Act, teacher preparation, and other ongoing initiatives. UAA Provost Runge and School of Education Dean Dousay provided an update on the progression of the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education at UAA as it moves down the pathway toward accreditation. In addition, Regents approved a new associate of science program at UAA and an update to Indigenous names in the UAA mission statement.

Associate Vice President Teri Cothren, UAA Associate Vice Provost Kathy Craft, and UAF Vice Chancellor Charlene Stern provided an overview of 's healthcare workforce and UA's responsiveness to addressing workforce shortages. Nearly 8,000 healthcare workers are needed annually to keep up with staffing demands, and 4,500 more jobs are expected to be created in the next ten years. UA health programs are adapting to ’s workforce needs and partnering to address future needs with the expansion of programs like WWAMI, and development of new programs like the Masters in Healthcare Management & Leadership and the Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program.

Project Approvals

The Facilities and Land Management Committee approved schematic design for two projects on the main Fairbanks campus: the Troth Yeddha' Indigenous Studies Center (TYISC) and the UA Museum of the North planetarium addition at UAF. The TYISC will serve as a central Native gathering place with classes, services, and activities as a breathtaking tribute that affirms Native culture and contributions across . TYISC is one of UA’s top fundraising priorities, and the schematic design approval allows the project to continue moving forward. 

The planetarium addition at the Museum has been under consideration for the last 40 years. Thanks to a generous commitment from a private donor, the project can move forward toward construction. The planetarium addition will complement and augment UAF’s unique position and expertise in the Aurora and geophysics. 

Regents also received an update on hockey rink public-private partnership (P3) projects in both Anchorage and Fairbanks, and progress on the UA Land Grant initiative. 

The Board of Regents is an 11-member volunteer board, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the 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 Constitution and is responsible for University of 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