UA President Pat Pitney discusses university’s budget, legislative priorities

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Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:07 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska (UA) held a virtual townhall on Thursday, January 27, during which UA president Pat Pitney discussed various issues facing the university system in the state.

Pitney gave insight into the UA system’s current budget situation, explaining, “After over $100 million in state funding reductions in the last eight years, we’ve secured a modest increase in the governor’s budget.”

According to Pitney, the UA Board of Regents has proposed a 2% compensation adjustment for university staff. “I know this is only the second time in five years there’s been a proposed increase, but our ability to provide high-quality services depends on retaining our valued employees.”

From the state legislature, Pitney would like to see funding for deferred maintenance and more stability in the Higher Education Investment Fund, which funds scholarships and programs around the state. “We need to know the status of that fund long-term. It’s a $410 million fund, and we believe should not have been subject to the constitutional budget reserve sweep,” she said, adding, “It’s a game-changer to have that stable. It’s been so disruptive in the past due to these sweeps.”

She then took questions from the university community, ranging from UA’s COVID-19 response to diversity and inclusion.

During this portion, she was joined by representatives of each campus in the UA system, including University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Dan White.

Pitney struck an optimistic chord talking about the future of the university, saying “The increasing importance of Alaska to our nation’s economy and security is also opening up new and exciting research opportunities.”

The full townhall session recording can be found here.

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