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Thumbs up to the University of Alaska Board of Regents for continuing to expand the degree and certificate offerings at the University of Alaska Southeast. The regents approved bachelor of science degrees in mathematics and marine biology, an associate of applied science degree in health sciences and certificate programs in health information management, pre-nursing and community wellness advocacy.
The move is a cost-free effort to attract and retain students who aren't content to graduate with a generic degree and only an emphasis in their specialty. It's a sensible approach to boosting the graduation rate by giving students incentives to stay instead of transferring, and it should expand into other fields.
And really: What better place for marine biology than Juneau?
Thumbs down to the U.S. Forest Service for dropping oral comments from the comment period for the Kensington gold mine. Organizers appear to have had good intentions. They say they set up an open-house format instead of a public hearing because they thought it would be user-friendly. People could come and go as their schedules allowed, they could discuss the project in small groups and ask questions without having to go in front of a crowd.
However, dropping oral comments will greatly reduce public input on projects that shape the community. Hearings have been an important way for citizens to find out more about projects from their neighbors, and they're a means to gauge public reaction to a proposal. Oral comments are a door into the public process, and hopefully next time the Forest Service will leave it open.