University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton should find university tuition waivers for senior citizens easy to defend to both younger students and the regents.
I can attest, based on decades of classroom experience in Fairbanks and Anchorage (where I was the first recipient of the chancellor's award for excellence in teaching), that senior citizens in the classroom were invaluable resources. Not only were they committed students, but they were active participants in the learning process. Each brought real-life experience to discussions and acted effectively as unpaid teaching assistants. Tuition waivers were bargains for everyone.
Tuition waivers for older Alaskans serve vital economic, social and even health purposes. Most Alaska senior citizens who are in their 60s will retrain for a new work place and life to survive and prosper. They must reinvent themselves intellectually for new life experiences. These goals are necessary for senior citizens and for Alaska's well-being.
Rigors of classroom education will keep older minds sharp, a proven form of preventive health care that will delay placement of costly responsibilities for mentally impaired on younger family members, friends and state budgets.
Old age in a competitive and changing Alaska economy is a mixed blessing that younger Alaskans will experience in their own due turn. They will appreciate senior tuition waivers when they too return to our state's university.