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Muñoz subcommittee looks at UAS

University system budgets being examined

Posted: February 5, 2013 - 9:21pm  |  Updated: February 6, 2013 - 1:01am
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Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, listens to Legislative finance Director David Teal speak to the House Finance Subcommittee on the University of Alaska's budget at the Capitol on Tuesday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, listens to Legislative finance Director David Teal speak to the House Finance Subcommittee on the University of Alaska's budget at the Capitol on Tuesday.

The chancellor and provost of the University of Alaska Southeast appeared Tuesday to make presentations on their school before a subcommittee led by Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, that is tasked with looking at the University of Alaska budget schedule.

Muñoz is a member of the House Finance Committee, which appoints subcommittees to examine each state agency’s section of the budget. She and four other members of the Alaska House of Representatives heard from Chancellor John Pugh and Provost Richard Caulfield during the meeting about UAS’ enrollment, objectives, programs and partnerships.

“Partnerships are the key,” Caulfield said. “You can see from what’s listed here the array of partnerships that UAS has. We’re a small institution. … We’re effective only when we’re able to work with employers.”

Among the partnerships Caulfield mentioned are those with other University of Alaska schools, including the larger institutions in Anchorage and Fairbanks as well as smaller colleges around the state, as well as with the Alaska Marine Highway System, the Alaska Miners Association, Yukon College and other schools in Canada, and the United States Forest Service.

One prominent program Caulfield talked about in some detail is the Center for Mine Training, which provides distance courses for high school students interested in mining careers. He mentioned Gov. Sean Parnell’s visit last month to the UAS campus in Juneau to speak at an introductory course for the program.

“We really appreciated the governor coming out and underscoring the importance of that opportunity,” said Caulfield.

According to statistics presented by Pugh, some 70 percent of students at UAS are part-time. Pugh and Caulfield commented on the “nontraditional” student population at the school.

“We know we’re small, but I think we also have … a place in the system that I think is very important for certain students,” Pugh said.

Caulfield described UAS as filling the role of a community college as well as being a university.

“Most universities in the Lower 48 states have four or five community colleges nearby,” Caulfield remarked. “Well, we don’t have that. We have the responsibility to meet that very, very broad mission.”

The subcommittee and university representatives also looked at budget numbers for the UAS campuses in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, but were frustrated by the lack of data on what was budgeted in fiscal year 2012 versus what was actually spent.

Muñoz said she wants to see that data for the subcommittee to review in future.

At the end of the meeting, Muñoz thanked Pugh and Caulfield for appearing.

“It’s been a very interesting conversation,” Muñoz said. “I really appreciate the work that you put into the presentations.”

Muñoz’s other Finance subcommittee, which is looking at the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s share of the budget, also met on Tuesday.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 586-1821 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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