Murkowski Ensures Year-End Omnibus Contains Significant Assistance, Funding for University of Alaska

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today welcomed passage of the University of Alaska Fiscal Foundation Act, which she added to the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2023. The year-end omnibus also includes multiple Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) allocations totaling $8.325 million that Murkowski requested and secured on behalf of the University of Alaska (UA).

“The University plays a critical role in educating Alaskans, adding to our workforce and shaping the very future of our state. I recognize how important this system is, and that’s why I worked so hard to ensure the omnibus will help strengthen its fiscal foundation for decades to come,” Murkowski said. “By providing a new way to expand the University’s land grant, we are ensuring it can generate additional revenues that support its students, faculty, and campus infrastructure. Through our successes in the CDS process, we are improving the University’s facilities, meeting priority research needs, and expanding its pipeline of well-educated Alaskans who enter key fields across our economy. I thank President Pitney and her team for working so closely with me and my staff to move these achievements across the finish line.”

“This is a monumental day for the university. We’ve been working diligently for years to resolve our land grant deficit, and today is the day that hard work has paid off. On behalf of the entire university community, I thank our congressional delegation for finding a path forward through the omnibus appropriations bill. I also want to recognize the bipartisan backing we’ve had from our Alaska businesses, organizations, and state leaders who advocated for this positive outcome.

This break-through legislation means that the university will be empowered to actively manage productive lands that will generate recurring revenue for the benefit of our students, our cutting-edge research, and the education of our next generation of leaders,” said Pat Pitney, President of University of Alaska.

Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) re-introduced S. 1128, the University of Alaska Fiscal Foundation Act, last year to help fulfill UA’s long-suffering land grant, which remains a fraction of the size it was intended to be. Murkowski and Sullivan developed the bill in collaboration with UA and the State of Alaska (State); the late Congressman Don Young (R-AK) introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives. 

Despite being located in the largest state in the union, UA has one of the smallest land endowments—just 110,000 acres—of any applicable institution anywhere in the country. To help remedy this, S. 1128 allows UA and the State to jointly identify up to 500,000 acres in Alaska for potential conveyance. The Department of the Interior (DOI) will then survey those selections and work with UA and the State to transfer up to 360,000 acres to UA. Any transfers will be deducted from Alaska’s outstanding statehood lands entitlement, which still totals millions of acres.

Elsewhere in the omnibus, Murkowski provided increased funding for the Alaska Land Conveyance Program to help fulfill long-standing legal requirements to transfer lands to the State and Alaska Natives under ANCSA.

In addition to the University of Alaska Fiscal Foundation Act, Murkowski secured the following CDS allocations for UA:

  • Kotzebue: $825,000 to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for renovations and safety improvements to the Chukchi Campus in Kotzebue. 
  • Anchorage: $500,000 to the University of Alaska Anchorage to implement a forensic training program for healthcare providers and advocates. 
  • Fairbanks/Statewide: $1 million to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to support research on seasonal weather forecasting.  
  • Fairbanks/Statewide: $1.7 million to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to conduct baseline marine fishery surveys.  
  • Statewide: $1 million to the University of Alaska Anchorage to expand UAA’s business development services to rural and young entrepreneurs in Alaska.  
  • Statewide: $300,000 for the University of Alaska Anchorage to study the need and economic feasibility of constructing and operating a hazardous waste processing facility and landfill in the State of Alaska. 
  • Anchorage: $2.25 million to the University of Alaska Anchorage to renovate UAA’s facilities for nursing education, telehealth training, and inter-professional education programs. 
    • Anchorage: $6 million to the Alaska Community Foundation to support the preservation, processing, and digitization of records of Alaskan leaders, which will be housed at UAA.
    • Juneau: $750,000 to establish and operate a commercial driver's license education training program at the University of Alaska Southeast. 

The University of Alaska is a land-, sea- and space-grant system of higher education established in 1917. The system has three universities – Alaska Anchorage (UAA), Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), and Alaska Southeast (UAS) – as well as 13 community campuses and extended learning centers across the state. System-wide, more than 20,700 full- and part-time students are enrolled, studying among 500 unique degree, certificate, or endorsement programs. Study areas include short-course workforce training, associate degrees, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as doctorates. UA generates $1.1 billion annually in economic impact and supports more than 15,000 Alaskan jobs.