Amid cuts, UAS moves focus to enrollment

At the University of Alaska Southeast, it’s the same tune heard around the state — an uncomfortably tight budget countered by expanding program needs. UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield, however, remains optimistic.

During Thursday’s Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Caulfield presented a summary of where UAS is, where it’s going and what it all means for Juneau’s economy.

As an employer alone, Caulfield said UAS pours $27 million into Juneau via its 322 employees. Then there are the 50-plus construction contracts that keep local businesses busy. However, those are short-term economic impacts. The real contribution comes from educating students who will take over for an aging population.

“We wonder about what kind of opportunities are there for our kids and our grandkids looking forward, and it’s even tougher as we think about the budget challenges that the state of Alaska is facing right now,” Caulfield said. “But as I look in the mirror in the morning, I’m reminded that I’m part of the graying workforce.”

To prepare that workforce, new opportunities for students are in the works. Although UAS already has a popular marine biology degree program, Caulfield said the university is working to mimic what the University of Alaska Fairbanks has in place by adding a fishery component to the degree. The UAS faculty senate is still in the process of reviewing the change, but Caulfield said he is optimistic it will soon pass and that the addition of this component could add up to 20 students.

Other ways Caulfield said student enrollment has expanded includes the “Come Home to Alaska” initiative, started at the beginning of the 2014 school year. The program guarantees out-of-state students an in-state tuition fee if they have a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent who receives a Permanent Fund Dividend.

Eric Lingle, associate director of admission for UAS, said the trial program, now in its second year, has attracted 39 students to date. Speaking with one senior from North Carolina, Lingle said the discount, which could save a student $466 per credit, is the incentive that could tip the scales in UAS’ favor.

A lot of growth is in UAS’ future, Caulfield said, but there have been cuts along the way to make ends meet.

Degree programs that been cut include the masters of business administration, the pre-engineering and early childhood degree programs. The cuts were made with the assurance that students could still complete degrees online within the University of Alaska program at a sister school. Other cuts have included eliminating 21 jobs and closing the UAS bookstore, putting all sales online.

The opportunity, Caulfield said, still exists for students, traditional and non-traditional, to get a degree from UAS and reverse a trend that puts Alaska at the low end of the spectrum for college-going citizens. There’s still time to turn things around, Caulfield explained, despite the budget crisis hurting the sate.

“We’re putting some programs down, never a happy thing, but the world is changing and we have to change with it,” he said.

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or at

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Sept. 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

People work together to raise the Xa’Kooch story pole, which commemorates the Battle of the Inian Islands. (Shaelene Grace Moler / For the Capital City Weekly)
Resilient Peoples & Place: The Xa’Kooch story pole — one step toward a journey of healing

“This pole is for the Chookaneidi, but here among us, many clans are represented…”

A bracket fungus exudes guttation drops and a small fly appears to sip one of them.( Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Water drops on plants

Guttation drops contain not only water but also sugars, proteins, and probably minerals.

A chart shows what critics claim is poor financial performance by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, especially in subsidizing private industry projects intended to boost the state’s economy, during its 55-year existence. The chart is part of a report released Tuesday criticizing the agency. (MB Barker/LLC Erickson & Associates/EcoSystems LLC)
AIDEA’s fiscal performance fishy, critics say

Report presented by salmon industry advocates asserts state business subsidy agency cost public $10B

Police vehicles gather Wednesday evening near Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as ]]Brotherhood Bridge Trail, while investigating a homicide. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Police: Woman was walking dogs when she was killed

JPD said officers are working “around the clock” on the criminal investigation.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew-member observes a foreign vessel in the Bering Sea, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across the guided missile cruiser from the People's Republic of China, officials said Monday, Sept. 26.  (U.S. Coast Guard District 17 via AP)
Patrol spots Chinese, Russian naval ships off Alaska island

This wasn’t the first time Chinese naval ships have sailed near Alaska waters.

An Alaska judge has ruled that a state lawmaker affiliated with the Oath Keepers, Rep. David Eastman, shown in this February 2022 photo, may stay on the general election ballot in November even though he's likely ineligible to hold public office  (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge ordered delaying certifying the result of the race until a trial scheduled for December.

Water rushes down Front Street, just a half block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok moved into the region. It was a massive storm system — big enough to cover the mainland U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska and from Canada to Texas. It influenced weather systems as far away as California, where a rare late-summer storm dropped rain on the northern part of the state, offering a measure of relief to wildfire crews but also complicating fire suppression efforts because of mud and loosened earth. (AP Photo / Peggy Fagerstrom)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

ANCHORAGE — There’s been significant damage to some roads and homes in… Continue reading

Sniffen indicted on sexual abuse counts

Sniffen will be arraigned Monday.

Most Read