University of Alaska expansion plans

Published: Nov. 12, 2022 at 11:40 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Nov. 8, the University of Alaska had a system wide townhall meeting during which Pat Pitney, President of the UA system, spoke about developments under way and those that will be addressed by the board of regents for the University of Alaska.

Among those developments was the budget request that will be sent to the state legislature. The board of regents is asking the state for $24 million for the operating budget. This accounts for multiple increases to spending and expansion to current programs.

Pitney said part of the funds will be put towards a 2.75% increase in faculty wages and a retroactive wage increase from last year. Pitney said contracts with the firefighters and adjunct faculty were also renegotiated. Increase to the healthcare plan are a part of the changes for faculty, however, employees will have had to pay more to support those increases to healthcare. The UA system pays for 82% of those while the employees pay the other 18%. This is the first healthcare increase since 2016.

Expansions the board of regents will discuss include various faculty and student services. Both would account for $5 million of the $24 million proposal. The UA system is also looking to expand some programs including the medical program known as WWAMI, the Alaska Native Success Program, dual enrollment, climate science, and health research.

Pitney expressed concern over obtaining the funds for these expansions, “We’re asking for increases at the same time when oil prices are beginning to moderate and come down,” said Pitney. She called the increase “pretty significant.” With the price of oil coming down, it is unclear if the state budget will be able to accommodate the increases.

Other causes for the increases include property insurance and maintenance costs which have recently gone up.

Pitney did include positive news for all students. She said that tuition rates are not expected to go up with the exception of undergraduate tuition at the Troth Yeddha campus in Fairbanks. The rates for lower level tuition and upper level tuition are expected to be changed to one flat rate.