New University of Alaska president makes UA-Fairbanks engineering building top priority

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The new University of Alaska president says completing the half-finished engineering building at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is a top priority.

University President Jim Johnsen has included a $34.8 million request to complete work on the building in his proposed $134.8 million capital budget for fiscal year 2017, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (

Work on the 120,000-square-foot building stalled after the Legislature last session did not approve funding for the final phase of construction. If the funding request is approved, it could be completed in Spring 2018.

"We drive by that building every day that we still have to pay to operate," said Michelle Rizk, UA's chief strategy, planning and budget officer.

The capital request also includes $50 million for deferred maintenance and $50 million to keep up with current facility maintenance needs. The request is a huge leap from this year's funding, which included only $3 million for maintenance.

The operating budget proposal includes an increased state contribution of 7.7 percent to about $378 million.

Rizk said the Board of Regents will also be discussing the tuition rate for the 2016-17 school year, though it will focus on concepts rather than details. A specific tuition proposal will be reviewed by regents at their November meeting.

Johnsen took over leadership at the University on Sept. 1. Thursday will be his first budget-focused meeting since taking the helm.

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner,

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