Hello UA Staff. I am your Staff Alliance Chair, Carey D. Brown, and I would like to update you on developments from the most recent Board of Regents (BOR) meeting held in Anchorage on November 6, 2013. This meeting was primarily regarding the budget. However, Staff Alliance, Faculty Alliance, and the Coalition of Student Leaders were allowed to provide an update on their respective activities. There was also public testimony allowed.
During the first budget agenda motion, approval of student tuition rates for Academic Year 2015, a lengthy discussion about how to address perpetually rising tuition and student debt ensued. During this, Regent Fisher proposed an ammendment eliminating the tuition increase for all residents and recovering that income by cutting the tuition benefit for employees in half. The topic was out of order for this BOR meeting because it addresses policy change, but we can very much anticipate the resurgence of this topic at the December BOR meeting in Fairbanks. I will be in attendance at this meeting representing staff concerns.
I would like to urge our local governance groups to bring this topic up at your next meeting. This proposed amendment to this motion by Regent Fisher neglected the transparency expected by staff regarding our benefits. President Gamble has supported and approved revisions to the educational benefit as recently as November 2012. An excerpt from The Statewide Voice (Nov. 2012, Issue #72) reads:
“The tuition benefit is an important part of the overall compensation package for a UA employee. A benefit program like ours not only creates a sense of employee loyalty, but it directly impacts retention in a positive way, which far outweighs the cost. Many colleges and universities provide educational benefits to employees and almost half of all public institutions provide waivers for dependents. It keeps a university competitive with peer institutions and helps attract and retain quality staff and faculty. The tuition waiver program also keeps employees in closer touch with the classroom environment.”
As we anticipate this topic to be discussed at the next BOR meeting, staff are encouraged to communicate with their governance groups to share their feedback on this proposal and are encouraged to testify if possible.