Budget Update: May 4, 2022

Chancellor Dan White
UAF photo by JR Ancheta
Chancellor Dan White

— By Dan White, chancellor

May 4, 2022

Last week the House and Senate passed their versions of the state operating budget, which included all Board of Regents operating budget requests, plus $3.25 million for additional projects. Differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget will be addressed in the conference committee process. The Senate also recommended the following UA capital projects be funded with unrestricted general funds: 

  • Facilities deferred maintenance — renewal and repurposing: $50 million
  • Student IT systems — modernization and security upgrades: $20 million
  • Emerging Energy Opportunities for Alaska: $2.5 million
  • Rare Elements Demonstration Facility: $500,000
  • Mineral security projects — rare Earth mineral security: $250,000

This is great news for the university, and we thank the governor and the legislative bodies for their support. While the budget discussions are not yet fully complete, we are in a strong position to see stability with some added support moving into FY23. 

At UAF we continue to reduce our footprint through building sales and removal. We are also actively working on determining the best use of existing space as part of our modernization efforts. Decreasing our footprint reduces our expenses. Furthermore, by eliminating deferred maintenance we can shift funding to improve those spaces that need to be modernized to meet current teaching, research and outreach needs. Yesterday at our forum on flexible work we discussed the potential of using shared office space for employees where flexible work arrangements are adopted. We will also look at ways to add vibrancy to spaces on campuses where employees are on site.

Brittany Van Eck, UAF’s space planner and leasing manager, has developed a new process for space requests. Brittany’s eye towards innovation is pivotal to UAF’s goal to use space in new and better ways. She will begin communicating monthly via the Cornerstone about UAF space optimization and updates on her work. 

The Student Success Center is also an exciting new project to boost our enrollment and retention efforts at UAF. This space, slated for development on the sixth floor of the Rasmuson Library, will serve as a hub for advising, testing and tutoring UAF students, and will modernize our library to meet student expectations for integrated services and support. Student Success Director Jennifer Tilbury is leading this effort. 

On the subject of modern space, the Troth Yeddha’ Indigenous Studies Center continues as UAF’s chief fundraising priority. Troth Yeddha’ will serve to promote Alaska Native Success Initiatives and programming for the College of Rural and Community Development. The facility will also be home to key programs including the Alaska Native Language Center, the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development, the Center for Cross Cultural Studies, the Rural Alaska Honors Institute and Tribal Governance. The facility will include dedicated space for innovative research programming that engages Indigenous knowledge and science.

The Troth Yeddha’ project will be considered by the Board of Regents for full project approval at the June board meeting. As part of this meeting, the Board of Regents will hold a Facilities and Land Management Committee meeting the week prior on May 27 where the Troth Yeddha’ project will be discussed.

There is much ahead for us as we look to reduce unusable space, update and improve our most valued locations, and build a more vibrant future for UAF. It is an exciting time. 

Thanks for choosing UAF.