University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Sean Parnell spent part of last week visiting with students and staff at Kodiak College, where he toured the campus and stressed the importance of building up Alaska’s workforce.
Parnell is the former governor of Alaska – he’s served as the university system’s chancellor since 2021.
He said the pandemic has changed the types of educational opportunities people are interested in. He says the UAA system as a whole has seen strong enrollment online, and the university has dropped out of state tuition requirements for virtual students outside of Alaska as more people students are taking classes remotely. UAA has also seen growth in its accelerated educational programs, like its certificate training for trades like welding or in IT services.
“A lot of people want to get into an education setting and get out quickly and get back to work in a new field or with being upskilled in their existing field,” said Parnell.
Parnell said those types of programs keep good workers in the state – and for many students, they start in high school. In Kodiak, 11th and 12th graders can take courses at Kodiak College to chip away at four year degrees.
Parnell said access to those dual enrollment opportunities is tied to funding for K-through-12 education in the state, and university leaders are closely watching what’s happening in Juneau this legislative session.
“We want to see those opportunities increased. And to the extent that incentives can be set up for superintendents of school districts to utilize funds, state funds for those dual enrollment opportunities, we’d like to see that,” he said.
Kodiak College is one of four UAA campuses outside of Anchorage – the university also offers programs at extension sites across the state.