PUBLISHED: 4:57 PM on Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Five questions with UAS Chancellor John Pugh
John Pugh came to the University of Alaska Southeast in 1987 as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, a position he held for nine years before being promoted to Dean of Faculty. He was appointed Chancellor in August 1999 by University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton. During the first 20 years he has spent at UAS he has seen the University grow into an integral resource for Southeast communities as well as an important economic contributor.

How has the vision and mission of the University evolved?

  Chancellor John Pugh
UAS started as a community college over 50 years ago. UAS became a comprehensive university in 1980.

Over the last 25 years the university has evolved into a small public liberal arts institution that provides degree programs in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences as well as professional degrees in business, nursing, and education.

In addition, UAS provides workforce development programs and training to prepare individuals for specific jobs in our local communities. The university is committed to excellence in their teaching, research, and service to the community.

What are the funding and capital improvement priorities for the University?

The University of Alaska Board of Regents (BOR) requested an increase of $27.2 million general funds for the Fiscal Year 2009 operating budget of the university. This is a 9.3 percent increase.

Of this overall request, $13.3 million is for maintaining the existing programs and services at the university. This includes compensation, benefits, utilities, and maintenance of the university buildings.

In addition, the BOR requested $13.9 million for programs that prepare Alaskans for jobs in health, engineering, construction, and fisheries; for research related to climate change impacts, transportation and energy issues, and health sciences; and for programs that enhance student achievement.

Governor Palin's operating budget included all of the $13.3 million for maintaining the existing programs and services at the university and $5.8 million for preparing Alaskans for occupations in health, engineering, and construction and for research into the impacts of climate change. The Governor also included some funding for enhancing our services for students in vocational/technical programs throughout Alaska.

UAS appreciates the Governor's support for the university. The maintenance funding is critical for our ongoing efforts to provide quality higher education in the southeast region. The funds for preparing Alaskans for jobs in health, engineering, and construction will provide much needed teaching positions in the health sciences, pre-engineering, and underground mining.

UAS will continue to work with the Legislature to try to increase the budget to cover other important areas such as programs for fisheries and research in transportation, energy, and heath sciences.

The Board of Regents 2009 Capital Budget request included priorities in major renewal and replacement and new facilities. The Governor's Budget included $40.5 million for major renewal and replacement projects. UAS' Anderson Building remodel for $10.2 million is included in the Governor's Budget. It is the UAS top priority.

How's enrollment?

The UAS student enrollment has been fluctuating over the last two years. The Fall 2007 Semester full-time headcount for the southeast region is right around 1,000 and the part-time is close to 2,000.

Students seeking degrees have continued to increase despite lower overall enrollments. Applications for the UAS high need programs in business, teaching, and health have lead the surge in degree seekers. In addition, the UAS graduation numbers have increased 35 percent during the past five year period. Last year UAS graduated 282 students throughout the region.

UAS also continues to serve the Southeast communities by providing much needed workforce training. For example, in Juneau, UAS has partnered with the Alaska Department of Labor and the mining companies to develop mine safety training as well as more advanced training opportunities.

UAS is working on a new plan to develop an Underground Mine Training Center to serve the needs of southeast and, hopefully, the entire state.

In Ketchikan, UAS works with the local shipyard to provide appropriate training for the workforce.

In Sitka, UAS has focused on providing health science coursework to the smaller communities of Alaska. Last year Sitka developed a distance delivered Certified Nurses Assistant Program.

What is the progress on the Auke Lake Trail Project?

The Auke Lake Trail improvement project is a partnership between the City and Borough of Juneau, the University of Alaska Southeast, and Trail Mix.

The project not only makes improvements to the existing trail on the east side of Auke Lake but creates a connection between the UAS Campus and the trail by placing a bridge across the outlet to Auke Lake and developing better access along the Glacier Highway.

The project will provide increased educational opportunities for K-12 elementary and high school students, for university level students, and for community members in the study of the history of the area as well as the ecology of Auke Lake. It also will enhance the recreational opportunities for the UAS Campus, the community and our summer visitors.

The budget for the Auke Lake Trail Project is $1.325 million. Recently, the university celebrated its success in raising $1.1 million for the project. This $1.1 million together with CBJ's $230,000 gives us the budget to begin construction of the project.

In January of 2008, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the plans for the Auke Lake Trail Project. Marc Matsil, CBJ Parks and Recreation Director, George Schaaf, Executive Director of Trail Mix, and Keith Gerken, UAS Director of Facilities have indicated the project will start as soon as the snow clears this spring.

How does the Auke Lake Trail Project fit with the University's mission?

The mission of a small public liberal arts university is to provide a broad range of educational opportunities for students. These opportunities should go beyond the classroom to engagement in the community which includes our natural environment.

The Auke Lake Trail will enable students to engage in biological and geological studies of the ecology of the lake, in historical and anthropological studies of the area, and in outdoor recreational studies and activities.

This fits with the goal of educating the whole person.

In addition, the trail will connect the campus to the surrounding neighborhood. This connection will strengthen the university's ties to the local community, hopefully, enhancing student engagement in activities that benefit both the university and the Auke Bay neighborhood.