UAA Geomatics Advisory Board works to bolster Geomatics Program

Last summer (June 2019), the UAA Geomatics program went from a seemingly strong position to being in possible danger of program closure due to Alaska’s financial and political turmoil. The University of Alaska (the entire university) faced “financial exigency” triggered when Governor Dunleavy vetoed an unprecedented $130 million from the university’s operating budget at the end of June.

The search for two additional full-time faculty members was put on an indefinite hold until budgets stabilize. Small programs like ours were likely to be in the crosshairs for elimination but we feel confident that we’ve demonstrated our uniqueness and importance to the State of Alaska.

With university funds frozen due to the financial exigency, the only way to hire and fund term faculty and adjunct positions was through fundraising. The Geomatics Advisory Board (GAB) started a campaign July 29th to raise the necessary funds in just 2 weeks. We raised close to $150,000 and the department was given approval to make the necessary hires to teach Fall & Spring classes. We had donations from companies, individuals, professional societies (including ASPRS and ASPLS), licensed surveyors, and other geospatial practitioners. Here is a website that shows a list of donors: https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/academics/college-of-engineering/departments/geomatics/support-geo.cshtml

The financial exigency has since been cancelled and a deal reached with the Governor for more favorable funding cuts to the UA system. It will still be drastic but spread out over 2-3 years with time to plan instead of mere weeks to act. We’ve made a strong effort in reaching out to our fellow practitioners, university officials, and lawmakers and we will have to continue that effort and stay involved to keep our voices heard and keep this vital program healthy. 

-Steve Buchanan, GAB Chair

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