Most of the attention on Proposition C, the education bonds on the Nov. 5 ballot, has focused on the K-12 schools statewide. That much needed work is reason enough to support Proposition C, but University of Alaska projects provide even more reasons to support the proposition.
All told, Proposition C contains $61 million in university classroom and facility projects, including approximately $48 million for projects at the Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau campuses with the balance at other campuses throughout the state. Funds from Proposition C bonds would pay for the following projects in Southeast:
Juneau - A new research facility for the University of Alaska Fairbanks' School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (SFOS). SFOS has operated in Juneau for more than 20 years. Although its programs are located throughout the state, the majority of the graduate fisheries programs are here in Juneau at three sites. SFOS doesn't have enough space to operate effectively or to accommodate all the disciplines of the industry.
NOAA/NMFS has designed a consolidated facility at Lena Point in Juneau and invited SFOS to locate with them at this site. The academic space in the new fisheries building consists of two classrooms, seminar rooms, and research laboratories.
Proposition C contains $9 million for the project; total cost is $22.5 million. Funds from Proposition C would pay for completing the design phase and for exterior construction. The interior could be completed at a later date.
Ketchikan - Three projects on the Ketchikan campus would be funded by the bonds. Proposition C would pay all of the $3.9 million needed to renovate and remodel the Paul and Ziegler buildings. The improvements would include remodeling the Paul Building to provide more effective classroom space, accessibility improvements to both buildings and remodel of the Ziegler first-floor science space to add lab capacity.
The two buildings, both more than 30 years old, provide all the academic and support space for the Ketchikan upper campus. Increased demand for distance education and new employment training are putting new demands on the campus facilities.
Proposition C also contains $385,000 for remodeling of the Robertson Classroom Building to provide space for vocational education. The total cost of the remodeling is estimated at about $2 million.
Sitka - Proposition C includes $540,000 to complete classroom work at the Sitka campus. The current campus site was begun in 1987, with partial remodeling of a former U.S. Navy aircraft hangar. Over the years since, we have developed science labs, a new resource center and classrooms. Proposition C funds will allow us to complete classroom work currently framed out and remodel two additional support areas for more efficient use of space.
Proposition C is truly an investment in education at all levels and a profoundly positive investment in Alaska's future.
John Pugh is chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast.