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UAS highlights standout programs

Regents learn of innovative ways UAS serves students

Posted: September 26, 2011 - 12:30am  |  Updated: September 26, 2011 - 10:58am

Some of the University of Alaska’s top academic efforts, ranging from its Tidal Echoes literary journal to its booming accounting program, got time in the limelight before visiting members of the University of Alaska Board of Regents last week.

UAS’ Tidal Echoes allows student writers to get crucial real world experience editing and in some cases even writing the regionally distributed journal, said English professor Emily Wall.

“They are actually getting published in a real literary journal with a real audience,” she said.

Senior editor Tom Bay, in charge last year, said the experience he got will help him in what he hopes to be a writing career.

“Instead of having to guess what editors are looking for, I now know it because I’ve lived it,” he said.

The students work in collaboration with professional journalists at the Capital City Weekly, learning layout and other skills they’ll need in the publishing business, including writing press releases and talking to the media.

English student Jacqueline Boucher has spent three years working on the journal, where she got to work with some of its featured artists.

“Last year I was even published in the journal, and that was a really incredible experience for me,” she said.

When they saw the freshly printed publication come out the boxes, Bay said he considered it his baby.

“It’s kind of like one of those MasterCard commercials: Priceless,” Bay said.

Across the spectrum from creative writing is accounting, and the regents were told that UAS is specializing in government accounting to try to help the state meet its needs.

“The state capital is here, a lot of our people work for the state,” said Vickie Williams, chair of the accounting program in the UAS School of Management.

Williams, a former treasurer for the City and Borough of Juneau, said she has been getting requests for years for UAS to produce more accountants.

“They’re not getting enough people applying for the accounting jobs, they’re starting to have to go south for recruitment,” said Williams, a former treasurer for the City and Borough of Juneau.

One of the ways they try to meet the needs of state agencies, and students was to take up a suggestion to offer noontime classes at the State Office Building.

Williams said she was told that they’d need at least 10 students to make that work. They got 48, and wound up offering three sections, she said.

That flexibility has been crucial to its success, said Michelle Kaelke with the Department of Fish & Game. She once took accounting classes from Williams, now she’s trying to find more accountants to hire for her agency.

One way to do that is to hold the classes downtown, where the employees work.

That enabled one of Kaekle’s employees, a single mom with three kids, to complete work on her degree and bring her new skills to her state job.

“She completed these courses because they were offered downtown and fit her schedule,” Kaelke told the regents.

That’s what Department of Administration recruiting manager Pam Day told the regents she likes about having the UAS accounting program, with its skills in government accounting, nearby.

“We want to retain our employees and retain that knowledge base,” she said.

Regents also heard from Leslie Gordon, the head of the UAS health information management program.

Based at UAS’ Sitka campus, Gordon said the nation wants every American to have an electronic health record by 2014.

There will be growing demand for people with the increasingly technical skills needed to manage those records.

“There are going to be 50,000 professionals needed in the next 5 to 10 years,” she said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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