Public Affairs

April 19, 2007

UA regents hear from Homer, approve new programs & facilities

For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Homer residents came out in force during the University of Alaska Board of Regents’ two-day meeting at the Kachemak Bay Campus, demonstrating strong support for the branch campus and university system as a whole.

Many who testified offered personal thoughts and stories about how much the campus means to the town and region.  Author and adjunct faculty member Rich Chiappone of Homer, who received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at University of Alaska Anchorage, said the diversity of students is striking. The first semester Chiappone taught, for instance, his class featured a “crusty cod fisherman,” a paintball enthusiast, some high school students earning college credit and an elderly woman.

“Alaskan colleges are the gathering places for the citizens of our communities--they are the new grange halls and sewing circles. They are the campfires that we gather around to tell our stories and share our opinions, and learn from others,” Chiappone said.

They also are an economic engine for their communities, said Tina Day of the Homer Chamber of Commerce.

“Everywhere you look, you see the economic benefits that this campus has generated for our community, whether it’s the nurses at South Peninsula Hospital, the accountants, the bookkeepers, the teachers, the charter industry, artists and welders,” Day said. “Kachemak Bay campus continues to provide opportunity for the residents of Homer.”

Many citizens urged the board to acquire additional space for the campus.  For the last two years, the Board of Regents’ capital budget request has included $2.5 million to purchase and renovate Homer City Hall, next door to the main campus building, for faculty offices and additional classroom space.  The project, however, has not yet received funding as major maintenance and other projects are higher on the priority list.

Faculty offices at the Kachemak Bay Campus are located 1 ˝ miles away from the main campus facility in an old school.  Regents toured college facilities with campus director Carol Swartz and attended a reception with members of the campus advisory board and community.

In addition to hearing from the citizens of Homer, the board also tackled a busy agenda. They approved five graduate certificates in elementary education, reading, early childhood education, mathematics education and educational technology at the University of Alaska Southeast.  UAS already offers the classes that lead to those specialized endorsements on state teaching certificates, but the new certificated program officially recognizes the programs and will allow students to apply for financial aid.

Regents also took the following actions:
* Approved a 38-credit certificate in power generation at UAF’s  Tanana Valley Campus, answering a call from  industry;
* Gave formal project approval for a  $17 million, 445-space parking garage in conjunction with the Integrated Sciences building at UAA;
* Approved formal and schematic design of a $3.5 million remodel of UAA's Allied Health Sciences Dental Clinic;
* Named Prince William Sound Community College’s museum addition the Maxine and Jesse Whitney Museum, after the pioneering Alaska couple who donated an extensive collection of Native art and artifacts to the Valdez campus.  Maxine now lives in Fairbanks; Jesse passed away in 1990.
* Named the Commons building at UAA the Edward Lee Gorsuch Commons, after the former UAA chancellor who began his long career in public service at the university in 1976;
* Named the Natural Sciences building at UAF the Paul B. Reichardt Building, after the longtime UAF professor, administrator and provost who will retire this year;
* Passed resolutions of appreciation for student regent Jacob Gondek of UAA, whose two-year term expires in May; longtime UAF scientist and founder of the International Arctic Research Center Syun-Ichi Akasofu, who retired in February; UAA Chancellor Elaine Maimon, who is stepping down next month to take a job at another college in Illinois; and Reichardt.

Regents delayed voting on a requested $2 million total project cost increase for a renovation project at the Arctic Health Research building at UAF, previously pegged at $5.7 million.  Several members said they wanted more information about the renovation project before taking action.

The board next meets in June at the UAF campus.

For more information, call Kate Ripley at 907/388-3506 or 907/450-8102.



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