Chancellor Rogers speaks at the Chamber of Commerce

By Andrew Sheeler
Sun Star Reporter

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, Chancellor Brian Rogers spoke in front of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. In his address, he discussed the university’s successes in the past year as well as the challenges it would continue to face in the coming one. The speech was interspersed with archival footage from the 60’s and 70’s, including a message from former university president William R. Wood, for whom the Wood Center is named after.

Chancellor Rogers called 2010 “a banner year for UAF.” He touted an increase in degrees and certificates in engineering and health care from 650 awarded in 2009 to 775 handed out in 2010. He mentioned that construction had begun on the Sikuliaq, a cutting-edge research vessel that UAF hopes to complete in 2013 and staff with UAF researchers.

Rogers also stated that the retention of first-year, full-time freshmen students who stay within the university system, had risen to 66.7 percent.

According to Rogers, the university’s biggest success story came this past November when Alaskan voters authorized a bond package that would pay for the construction of a life sciences building on the UAF campus. The life sciences building will provide space for both research labs and classrooms.

“Thanks to the efforts of this Chamber, and many others, after 10 years of effort we finally won approval of the life sciences classroom and laboratory facility.”

Despite the chancellor’s optimism about 2010, the university faced significant challenges. Rogers mentioned his decision to layoff nearly 50 employees at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC). The decision, Rogers said, was in response to a “significant loss of federal contracts.”

In the near future, Rogers stated that the university building budget would be used primarily on maintenance of UAF’s aging buildings. “You may notice some of the buildings in the archival film footage look kind of familiar,” Rogers said, alluding to the fact that most of the buildings at UAF date back 50 years or more. Gov. Sean Parnell’s budget allotted nearly $38 million for deferred maintenance projects and Rogers discussed working with Parnell to try to secure an additional $100 million in funding.

Also on the university’s docket is an update to the campus’ 50-year-old power plant. Rogers mentioned that while the plant is in good working condition now, if it were to fail it would leave UAF “literally freezing in the dark.”

The Chamber, whose major sponsors include BP, Exxon Mobil Corporation, ConocoPhilips, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, invited Rogers to be their featured speaker for the week’s meeting.

Article was updated on Jan. 15, 2011 to reflects edits, additional information, and audio from Rogers’ speech. Rogers’ speech was edited for brevity, with the archive footage sections removed.

[audio: http://www.uafsunstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Chancellor-speech.mp3]

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