If you haven't visited the Auke Lake campus of UAS recently, you will be impressed by the transformation taking place. The wrapping has come off the magnificent new classroom wing added to the Egan Library. The first phase of this $8 million project, designed by Jensen Yorba Lott Inc. of Juneau, is nearly complete.
Another Juneau firm, Coogan Construction of Juneau, was awarded the $3 million contract to build the first phase. The second phase of the project involves finishing the interior and installing furnishings and fixtures. Completion is targeted for next fall with the first students expected to occupy the new space with the start of the spring 2003 semester.
Chancellor John Pugh and Keith Gerken, director of UAS Facilities Services, conducted a tour of the new facility this week and talked about long-range plans for UAS. The overview included a bold vision to grow full-time enrollment at the university from the current 670 students to 1,000 students by 2012. UAS has had a good year with enrollment near the all-time high and applicants from outside Alaska up by 45 percent.
The University of Alaska statewide has seen strong gains in retaining homegrown brainpower, and for the money, U of A stacks up to be an excellent value when compared to similar institutions in the lower 48. As President Mark Hamilton proudly points out, the best schools in the U.S. cannot hold a candle to U of A's achievements in computer sciences.
The long-range vision for UAS calls for increased emphasis in three primary areas of strength; preparing tomorrow's teachers and school administrators, business courses in management, accounting and entrepreneurialism, and expanded offerings in marine and environmental sciences. UAS is in a world-class location for fieldwork in marine biology and environmental science, and plans call for expansion of its Auke Bay facilities.
In the big picture, the campus is beginning to gel in a very tangible way. The attractive new classroom wing on the Egan Library gives the campus a dynamic and appealing focal point. Other exciting building projects are moving forward on campus.
Gov. Knowles has announced his support for $5.5 million in funding for a new National Guard armory and recreation facility planned for the north end of the campus. This will be a joint-use facility that will provide a much-needed place to host a wide range of student activities.
Funding for the Noyes Pavilion is also coming together. This beautiful outdoor facility will provide a marvelous venue for both community and university events. Funded through private donations, there is still plenty of time to make a contribution to this outstanding project.
With an annual payroll of $13 million and another $5 million spent in the community each year, UAS plays a very important role in Juneau's economy and adds greatly to its cultural and educational assets. Thanks to strong leadership, solid vision, and the support of the state and community, the university's future never looked brighter.