University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton was on the Peninsula last week to visit the new addition almost completed at Kenai Peninsula College and to share his vision for the University system with students and Soldotna Chamber members. “Next year we will be presenting to the legislature a wonderful opportunity to invest in our University system. One would shore up some of the things that we have begun to bring forth, the needs of the State such as nursing and engineering programs which we have gone forward without funding from the State utilizing funding from other sources such as industry, the Rasmussen Foundation, the Denali Commission, BP, Conoco Phillips, and a series of private funding sources, so we are looking for the State to finish the unfinished from the general fund,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton stated that he had set out to double the number of nurses graduated in Alaska by 2006 and they will have exceeded that goal by next year. The University is also pleased that the numbers of engineers and that new students pursuing engineering degrees are in the triple digits at UAA, “The state needs these professionals and we need the money to complete their training. The only thing more expensive than training these professionals is not training them. For instance the health care industry has to pay as much as three times the money to pay a traveling nurse which hurts us across the state with higher medical costs,” said Hamilton.
In reflecting on the expansion at KPC Hamilton recalled that KPC was the only place where significant training was done prior to the oil pipeline, “Now KPC is poised to be the vanguard for moving forward for training that will take advantage of the economic opportunities that will present themselves to Alaska over the next couple of years such as mining and of course the gas pipeline. So it’s dejavue and back to square one at KPC. They will be the leader once again in preparing Alaskans to take the legacy jobs that will turn these booms into more than construction hype and make them into life long professions.”
KPC is planning for an official ribbon cutting and dedication of the new addition January 5th at 6:00pm, “U of A Provost Jan Gehler, Vice Chancellor for Advancement Steve Lindback, and Borough Mayor John Williams will join me for the ceremony,” said KPC director Gary Turner. There will be an open house starting at 10:00am for anyone who would like to tour the new expansion. The 4,000 square foot addition includes three classrooms with moveable walls that convert into an auditorium that can seat 230 theatre style, plus two offices. “This is going to be a very useable and practical addition, and I have to take my hat off to Kelly Keating and the crew at Blazy Construction Company. They have worked diligently, given many adverse challenges, to keep this project on time and on budget. Their efforts have been greatly appreciated by all of us,” said Turner.
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