When Sarah Palin, John McCain's running mate, ran for governor of Alaska two years ago she touted her support for the state's university system, calling it a resource, an economic driver, and a cornerstone of pride for Alaskans.
Ms. Palin, who is the first woman and youngest person to have been elected governor of Alaska, has not made higher education an especially prominent priority of her administration. But the state's government--which is enjoying an economic boom, thanks to rising oil and natural-gas prices--has recently been treating the University of Alaska system well, at least in terms of its budget.
For the 2008-9 budget year, the university system received a 7-percent increase in funds, only the fourth time in 20 years that the system has won an increase greater than the state's fixed-cost requirement. The university plans to use the extra money to expand programs in high-demand fields, such as health and engineering, and to support research into climate change, energy, and biomedical sciences. The state also provided a fourfold increase in the university's budget for deferred maintenance, which rose to $48-million.
When she was running for governor in 2006, Ms. Palin laid out several plans for the university system. She said her administration would provide "an appropriate level" of funds for the system, adding that it had been "consistently under-funded" since the mid-1980s.
She also touted the importance of generally supporting university research and the role of the system in work-force development, including preparing people for jobs building and operating a natural-gas pipeline. "The time is now," she said on her "Sarah Palin for Governor" Web site, "to prepare the workforce for the gasline economy."
She also promised to expand nursing programs, touted the need to create a state need-based aid program, and committed to helping reduce the university's backlog of deferred-maintenance projects.
Here is the link to our original post on The Chronicle's Campaign U. blog.