UA Foundation President Susan Foley and UAF Chancellor Dan White present Michelle Bartlett with the Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence. Photo by Monique Musick

System News November 2017

  • Message from President Johnsen on tax reform bill
  • Ted Stevens Foundation pledges $157,000 to University of Alaska legislative internships; program to be renamed in honor of Senator Ted Stevens
  • Bartlett and Knapp selected as 2017 Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence recipients
  • University of Alaska launches online job search and career development program
  • Paul Layer appointed interim vice president for academic and student affairs
  • Start Here: Learn more about the University of Alaska's programs
  • UA Board of Regents approves FY19 budget requests with emphasis on strategic investments, approves tuition increases
  • Strategic Pathways update

Message from President Johnsen on tax reform bill

Nov. 27 employee email

Last week I communicated with our congressional delegation regarding the House-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act [HR 1], which would eliminate several important tax benefits designed to off-set the costs of higher education. Collectively, these changes, if enacted, would have serious consequences for educational attainment in Alaska and impede our efforts to develop the highly-skilled workforce we need to move Alaska’s economy forward.

While I recognize the difficult challenges of tax reform and the need to balance competing priorities, the bill includes specific provisions that would negatively impact Alaskan students and their families including the repeal of the student loan interest deduction, tax employer-provided tuition assistance, elimination of the university’s ability to provide employees and graduate-level teaching and research assistants with non-taxable tuition waivers, and elimination of the Lifetime Learning Credit.

Alaska has one of the lowest college going rates in the nation. The University of Alaska has launched a number of strategic initiatives to help address this enrollment shortfall so that we can provide an educated workforce and contribute to diversifying Alaska’s economy. In today’s environment of increasing college costs and rising levels of student debt, we should be doing everything possible to help Alaskans improve their skills and become more competitive in the marketplace.

The Senate is considering its own tax code reform legislation, and I will continue to advocate the university’s position on these issues. You can read my entire letter to the congressional delegation here.

Jim Johnsen

Ted Stevens Foundation pledges $157,000 to University of Alaska legislative internships; program to be renamed in honor of Senator Ted Stevens

The University of Alaska’s legislative internship program has received a substantial investment from the Ted Stevens Foundation, which has pledged $157,500 over five years to expand the initiative. The program, which will be renamed the Senator Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program, is nearly 30 years old and has hosted 300 interns during legislative sessions since inception.

Managed by the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), this non-partisan program affords university students an opportunity to work in state legislative offices during the annual legislative session in Juneau while earning college credits in an Alaska-focused public policy seminar. The Ted Stevens Foundation has pledged $31,500 annually during each of the next five years to support the program. In addition, the Foundation has agreed to match up to an additional $10,500 per year in private contributions to the program from other donors.

"This program honors Senator Ted Stevens’ legacy of bipartisanship, innovation and collaboration,” said UA President Jim Johnsen. “The Foundation’s support allows our students the real world experience of public service, and we are thankful to the Ted Stevens Foundation for its generosity and partnership with the university.”  MORE...

Paul Layer appointed interim vice president for academic and student affairs

Paul Layer has joined the UA System's executive team as interim vice president for academic and student affairs. Layer is currently dean of the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Natural Science and Mathematics (CNSM). In this new position, he succeeds Daniel M. White, who was named UAF chancellor in May. Layer’s duties began Monday, Nov. 13.

Layer agreed to serve as interim vice president to allow more time to continue the search for a permanent replacement. He is a highly regarded faculty member at UAF and someone who understands our need for increasing UA’s enrollment and student achievement. He’s a skilled leader with a passion for education and will be a tremendous asset as the university works with educators to create a culture of education in Alaska. We welcome him to our team and to this important role.

Dean Layer has been a faculty member at UAF since 1989 when he was hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and the Geophysical Institute. He led the Department of Geology and Geophysics from 1995 to 2003 and again in 2007. He has also been chair and is currently a member of the Alaska Geologic Mapping Advisory Board and the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources and Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.

He has been instrumental in developing a new life sciences building, increasing undergraduate enrollment in CNSM and developing a professional veterinary medicine program in cooperation with Colorado State University. Under his leadership, the number of students earning Ph.D. degrees has increased. He has co-authored more than 120 papers and has been involved in international collaborative projects with scientists from Russia, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Sweden and South Africa.

Dean Layer received his B.S. in geology from Michigan State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geophysics from Stanford University. He spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Department of Physics.

Start Here: Learn more about the University of Alaska's programs

UA recently launched www.alaska.edu/starthere as part of the new enrollment marketing campaign. Radio and television ads are being aired across the state to promote the university's range of degree and certificate programs. The ads encourage listeners to visit the website to find out how to enroll at each of our universities. Visit the website to learn more!

Bartlett and Knapp selected as 2017 Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence recipients

The University of Alaska Foundation selected long-time academic leaders Michelle Bartlett and Gunnar Knapp as recipients of the 2017 Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence. Bartlett, director of Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Gunnar Knapp, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage, will each receive $10,000 for their significant contributions to the University of Alaska.   

“Each year, a candidate for the Edith R. Bullock prize stands heads above the rest of the candidates. This year we had two who stood out. It was too hard to choose one over the other, since both are so deserving,” said UA Foundation Board Chair Scott Jepsen. “Michelle and Gunnar are champions for the University of Alaska and Alaska’s future.”  MORE...

University of Alaska launches online job search and career development program

On November 1 the University of Alaska released Career Coach, an open-access web-based application that allows job seekers and potential students to explore career interests and training options, apply for jobs using up-to-date labor market information and find links to UA programs. Through Career Coach, users can take a brief survey that will match their interests to industry sectors. Specific occupations can be filtered by salary, location and educational attainment. Users can browse Alaska job postings and apply for jobs using the Resume Builder or by submitting a current resume. 

As a service to those who have served our country in the military, Career Coach will provide  information for civilian jobs closely aligned to military assignments when users provide the branch served, current status and military job code.

In addition to the personalized career tools, Career Coach uses web-scraping technology to pull current Alaska and national labor market data from over 100 sources including the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics, allowing students to size up the potential job market for various degree programs.

There isn’t a faster or more comprehensive way in Alaska to search for jobs and easily find out what training is necessary for high-demand careers.

To get started, take the 6- or 60-question career interest survey at https://alaska.emsicc.com. For more information contact Fred Villa, AVP for Workforce Programs at 450-8008.

UA Board of Regents approves FY19 budget requests with emphasis on strategic investments, approves tuition increases

Acknowledging the University of Alaska’s important role in building the state’s economy and future workforce, the University of Alaska Board of Regents approved an FY19 operating budget that includes funding for a range of key strategic investments and tuition increases for academic years (AY) 2019 and 2020 at its meeting this week in Anchorage.

The approved budget includes a state operating budget request of $341 million in unrestricted general funds (UGF). The request is $24 million more than the university received in FY18. “In every state that is economically competitive, education comes first, and this is true for every nation around the world. So for us to develop our economy, education must come first,” said UA President Jim Johnsen.

Additional funding would be invested strategically to increase science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, teacher and health care education programs, invention disclosures, research expenditures and enrollment and degree completion rates. Regents also approved a state capital budget request of $50 million UGF for deferred maintenance and renewal and repurposing of the university’s facilities, as well as the university’s 10-year capital improvement plan.  MORE....

Strategic Pathways update

As presented at the November Board of Regents meeting, all 22 areas reviewed through the Strategic Pathways process are now in the implementation phase.

Phase 3 recommendations accepted by the Board of Regents at its November meeting  include course sharing and alignment in Arts & Humanities and Social & Natural Sciences and simplifying and standardizing processes in Finance, Facilities and Risk Management across the system. The Student Services Council is charged with developing a streamlined student gateway to courses and programs across the UA system. Mine Training will continue under its current structure and report on occupational endorsements, certificates and workforce credentials attainment. Land Management will maintain its current structure and develop a plan to maximize returns on investment properties.

Strategic Pathways involved 230 representatives of our campuses and communities. The process as a whole taught us about how we operate and how we can improve service to our students, staff and communities.

For a full overview of what's being implemented, ​go to http://alaska.edu/pathways/.

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