Budget update: June 29, 2022

Chancellor Dan White
UAF photo by JR Ancheta
Chancellor Dan White

*** NOTE: First bullet in base operating budget list below was previously estimated and has been  updated to reflect actual allocation. ***

— by Dan White, chancellor

Yesterday, Governor Dunleavy released the State of Alaska FY23 budget, marking the completion of the state appropriations process and the first operating and capital budget increases since prior to FY20. 

The State of Alaska Legislature also moved the UA system back to a single appropriation, which allows us to more efficiently manage operations between the universities and the UA System Office. This is beneficial in many ways and will allow us to be nimble and proactive when using our resources, or to support shared expenses where economies of scale exist. 

UAF’s financial position improved in the Governor’s UA budget allocations for FY23 and will receive the following funding increments:

Base Operating Budget:

  • $3.1 million – in state general funds for some fixed costs and fund-1 staff compensation increases, effective in July 2022. Funding for faculty compensation increases will continue to be pursued through ongoing confidential negotiations.
  • $2 million – Alternative Energy research funds through the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP)
  • Portion of $1 million – Funding for Health Clinical programs to be determined through a UA-wide process
  • Portion of $1 million – Teacher Education funding for practicums and degree completion to be determined through a UA-wide process

UAF will also benefit from Technical Vocational Education Program funding support that will have system-wide impact and will support UA workforce programs, as well as needed receipt authority that will allow UAF to receive a competitive grant, if awarded, to support Sikuliaq operations and construction of a new dock at the Seward Marine Center. This support of workforce, economic development and research demonstrates a commitment to new opportunities for UAF and Alaska. 

One-time funding in the Governor’s budget was directed to UAF for areas that have a connection to the state economy with high potential for growth:

  • $5.8 million – Critical Minerals and Rare Earth Elements Research and Development
  • $10 million – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems (Drone Program)
  • $5 million – Mariculture Research and Development
  • $5 million – Heavy Oil and Gas Recovery Research and Development

Furthermore, we were fortunate to have our most significant DM request specifically called out for funding. This is the $23 million needed for Moore and Bartlett plumbing and revitalization.

The capital budget also includes $2.5 million for emerging energy opportunities through ACEP, $500,000 for Rare Earth Demonstration Facility, $250,000 for Rare Earth Mineral Security and a portion of $2 million for Fisheries, Seafood and Maritime Works to be determined through a UA-wide process.

In addition, all universities will also participate in an upgrade of our student information technology systems ($20 million) affecting how we deliver education and communicate with students throughout Alaska and beyond. This project will improve the student experience and is critical to meeting changing student and technology needs. 

Overall the UA system received a $46 million budget increase over the FY22 state allocation through a mix of one-time and on-going funding. We look forward to the coming year and the opportunities the additional funding will afford us as we continue to grow our research, academic programs, and increase student recruitment and retention. 

The full FY23 budget details can be found here.

This is a moment to thank our many advocates that worked tirelessly to make UAF’s critical needs known throughout the entire legislative process. Many, including President Pitney and Regents Seekins and Jepsen spent many hours working over the course of the legislative session to improve our financial situation, telling the great story UA has to tell. I also want to recognize Dr. Cathy Cahill and her team at the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration as well as Associate Vice Chancellor Gwen Holdmann who spent many hours in Juneau making the connection between UAF research and economic and workforce development for Alaska.

Thank you for choosing UAF.