Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/19/2020 09:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
09:01:46 AM Start
09:02:03 AM Confirmation Hearing(s): University of Alaska Board of Regents
09:59:55 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
University of Alaska Board of Regents
- Cachet Garrett
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 19, 2020                                                                                         
                           9:01 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair (via teleconference)                                                                         
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
Senator Mia Costello (via teleconference)                                                                                       
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                        
University of Alaska Board of Regents                                                                                         
Cachet Garrett - Fairbanks                                                                                                      
     - CONFIRMATION ADVANCED                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
CACHET GARRETT, Appointee, Student Regent                                                                                       
University of Alaska Board of Regents                                                                                           
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as appointee to the University of                                                               
Alaska Board of Regents.                                                                                                        
SHERRI BERRETA, Regent                                                                                                          
University of Alaska Board of Regents                                                                                           
Eagle River, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported confirmation of Cachet Garrett.                                                                 
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
9:01:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GARY   STEVENS  called   the  Senate   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 9:01  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were  Senators Coghill, Begich, and  Chair Stevens. Senator                                                               
Hughes and Costello  joined the meeting via  teleconference as it                                                               
was in progress.                                                                                                                
^CONFIRMATION HEARING(S): University of Alaska Board of Regents                                                                 
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(S)                                                                                 
             University of Alaska Board of Regents                                                                          
9:02:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  announced  the  confirmation  hearing  of  Cachet                                                               
Garrett,  the   Governor's  Student   Regent  Appointee   to  the                                                               
University of  Alaska Board of  Regents. He asked Ms.  Garrett to                                                               
introduce herself.                                                                                                              
9:02:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CACHET GARRETT,  Appointee Student  Regent, University  of Alaska                                                               
Board  of  Regents,  Fairbanks, Alaska,  introduced  herself  and                                                               
stated that  she has been serving  as the student regent  for the                                                               
University  of Alaska  (UA) for  almost  one year  of a  two-year                                                               
term. When she started last May,  she came ready to deal with the                                                               
challenges  at hand.  The governor  appointed her  after she  was                                                               
elected by students  at the University of  Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)                                                               
to be a nominee. The regents'  main task presently is to create a                                                               
university  system   that  aligns  with  the   new  budget  while                                                               
preserving the university's values and mission.                                                                                 
MS.  GARRETT said  the regent  workload her  first year  has been                                                               
about  five  times  that  of  an average  year.  She  has  gained                                                               
experience  and expertise  that she  is not  sure she  would have                                                               
gained after two years of a  normal regent term. Her main role is                                                               
as a  conduit of  communication from the  students to  the board.                                                               
She  has  met  regularly  with   students,  both  physically  and                                                               
telephonically.  The  students feel  heard  and  honored at  this                                                               
time,  during  a  difficult   process  of  reducing  programmatic                                                               
offerings and services. The regents  have accomplished a lot this                                                               
year and she looks forward to the work ahead.                                                                                   
MS. GARRETT said  she is comfortable with the  unknown ahead. Her                                                               
experience, education,  and leadership  skills have  prepared her                                                               
for this position. Her background  is in health and wellness. She                                                               
is a licensed massage therapist in Alaska.                                                                                      
CHAIR STEVENS  noted that this  appointment runs through  the end                                                               
of May 2021 and asked if she would  still be a student at the end                                                               
of  May 2021,  the term  of the  appointment, because  that is  a                                                               
MS.  GARRETT  said  the  student regent  is  a  unique  position.                                                               
Statute says  there must  be an election  for the  student regent                                                               
and  then  names  be  submitted  to the  governor's  team  for  a                                                               
nomination. Up to two regents  from each campus can be presented.                                                               
Then  the regents  make  a recommendation  to  the governor.  The                                                               
governor typically  appoints the student  regent in late  May and                                                               
the student  begins service  June 1 and  the following  April the                                                               
student regent is confirmed by the legislature.                                                                                 
CHAIR  STEVENS noted  that Senator  Costello  and Senator  Hughes                                                               
were online.  He asked if she  would still be a  student when her                                                               
term ends.                                                                                                                      
MS. GARRETT answered yes; her term  as student regent will end in                                                               
May 2021  and she  will finish her  graduate studies  in December                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS  asked what her  goals are  as regent for  the next                                                               
MS. GARRETT  responded that  the main thing  to accomplish  is to                                                               
attend to the declining budget.  The university has a $25 million                                                               
cut this  fiscal year and next,  followed by $20 million  cut the                                                               
third year. Her  significant duty now is to support  the board in                                                               
the  work of  eliminating, reducing,  and restructuring  to match                                                               
the budget that is presented to the university.                                                                                 
9:12:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH said  he has talked to Regents  Parker and Perdue,                                                               
who have said  good things about her service. He  asked about her                                                               
take on  the Anchorage School of  Education accreditation failure                                                               
and how she would address  the absolute decline in teachers being                                                               
trained at the university.                                                                                                      
MS. GARRETT replied the issue  with the School of Education arose                                                               
before her term  and she is striving to understand  how that came                                                               
about. It  is very much in  her mind as the  board moves forward.                                                               
She would like to  see if she can have an  impact for the teacher                                                               
education system  to be highly  functional. It is  an unfortunate                                                               
SENATOR  BEGICH  noted that  since  spring  2017, enrollment  has                                                               
fallen by  1,419 to 872, and  said he looks forward  to the Board                                                               
of  Regents taking  action  on  that. He  asked  her opinion  and                                                               
response to the president   initiatives  to consolidate the three                                                               
MS. GARRETT  responded that  she honored  Senator Begich  for his                                                               
passion for teacher education in  the state. The board shares his                                                               
concern  and  wants  to  rectify  the  situation  as  quickly  as                                                               
possible. She talked  to many students, faculty,  and staff about                                                               
consolidation.  The  overwhelming  response was  no  interest  in                                                               
moving  to a  single  accreditation  and there  was  no proof  of                                                               
financial  savings. The  regents  have  paused that  conversation                                                               
until 2021.  She does not  know if that conversation  will return                                                               
during  her term  of  service.  She personally  has  not been  in                                                               
support of that  idea, but in this  rapidly changing environment,                                                               
if  new information  supports that,  the  board will  be open  to                                                               
considering it.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR BEGICH asked for her  general thoughts about the regents'                                                               
responsibility regarding COVID-19.                                                                                              
MS. GARRETT answered  that she cannot really speak  to it because                                                               
so much  is unknown, but  it is  a major disruption  to student                                                                 
lives.  She said  the safety  and well-being  of students  is her                                                               
priority. During  a difficult time  for the  university, COVID-19                                                               
is an  unexpected complication  in all regards.  The role  of the                                                               
board  is to  ensure  student  needs are  met  and questions  are                                                               
answered  and to  empower the  faculty and  staff who  are acting                                                               
marvelously in spite of these recent complications.                                                                             
CHAIR STEVENS  said attracting teachers  to the state  has always                                                               
been  a major  focus of  the legislature,  so it  was a  shock to                                                               
learn  of  the  loss  of accreditation  in  Anchorage.  He  asked                                                               
whether  there  should  be  one  School  of  Education  in  three                                                               
locations or one school in  Fairbanks and one in Juneau providing                                                               
services in Anchorage.                                                                                                          
MS.  GARRETT  replied she  does  not  have  an answer  about  the                                                               
direction, but  it is a  huge priority  to have a  strong teacher                                                               
education program  in the  state. She said  she is  confident the                                                               
university  will  be  able to  reestablish  a  highly  functional                                                               
teacher program.                                                                                                                
9:23:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO  said  the   university  presentations  to  the                                                               
legislature  show  that   declining  enrollment  preceded  budget                                                               
constraints. She  asked what  specific steps  are being  taken to                                                               
increase student enrollment.                                                                                                    
MS.  GARRETT  answered  that declining  enrollment  is  happening                                                               
across the  nation. It is not  going away because of  issues that                                                               
are  beyond  Alaska  and  the  Board of  Regents.  She  said  the                                                               
university  will  see  impacts   from  COVID-19  and  the  budget                                                               
situation.  Recruiting  and  boasting  about  the  university  is                                                               
tricky  when  programs are  being  dismantled  and enrollment  is                                                               
declining. The board,  legislators, and the governor  all need to                                                               
be  innovative,  collaborative,  and  creative  to  have  strong,                                                               
successful  universities that  have different  trends in  student                                                               
enrollment.  Everyone  wants  Alaskans educated  and  is  working                                                               
together on the same mission.                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS  expressed concern  about declining  enrollment and                                                               
asked how potential students view the university's reputation.                                                                  
MS.  GARRETT  responded  that  due  to  her  heavy  workload  and                                                               
studies, she has  not gone to high schools and  does not know how                                                               
those students  feel. She does  know that UA is  an accomplished,                                                               
world-class university  with many  offerings to  attract students                                                               
of all  ages. She would  like, if things  settle down, to  get to                                                               
high  school audiences  to talk  about her  personal experiences.                                                               
She would still, in the midst  of chaos, choose the University of                                                               
Alaska Fairbanks  (UAF) rather than  any other university  in any                                                               
other state. She has a lot of  pride in her university. She is an                                                               
alumna from  the University  of Alaska  Southeast and  is looking                                                               
forward to being an alumna from UAF.                                                                                            
9:31:13 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  said thank  you for being  willing to  serve. She                                                               
recapped  the previous  statement and  response about  enrollment                                                               
decline  and noted  the university's  work  on increasing  middle                                                               
college  enrollment, which  allows high  school students  to earn                                                               
college credits and  potentially an associate degree  by the time                                                               
they graduate  from high  school. She said  that is  a tremendous                                                               
opportunity for the  university to keep students in  state and it                                                               
is also a  savings to school districts. She asked  Ms. Garrett to                                                               
carry that to the board to help combat the enrollment decline.                                                                  
SENATOR HUGHES pointed out that UA is  not at the top of the U.S.                                                               
News and  World Report rankings,  despite Ms. Garrett  calling it                                                               
world  class.  Some programs,  particularly  at  UAF, are  ranked                                                               
higher,  but in  general  the university  is  not. Because  high-                                                               
achieving  high school  students  want to  go  to higher  quality                                                               
schools,  the university  generally  is not  drawing in  students                                                               
nationally or  globally. UAF draws  some and some come  to Alaska                                                               
to  enjoy  the great  outdoors,  but  she  does not  think  these                                                               
students come because the university  is world class. She offered                                                               
her belief that  a university becomes world class  because it has                                                               
particular  programs that  are superior  to  similar programs  in                                                               
other universities. But  UA cannot be all things  to everyone and                                                               
all  programs. A  few programs  must be  picked where  Alaska can                                                               
shine. She  asked Ms. Garrett  if she has thought  about focusing                                                               
on a few programs that could  draw students from around the globe                                                               
and keep Alaska students in state.                                                                                              
MS. GARRETT said  she attended a celebration of  a middle college                                                               
launch at UAF and the  board is excited about such opportunities.                                                               
It is a reflection of  changing trends nationally. Middle college                                                               
looks like a  wave of the future, educating  high school students                                                               
to  a  higher  level  and  enabling  them  to  graduate  with  an                                                               
associate degree and diploma. She  shares Senator Hughes' concern                                                               
about the  declining enrollment. Some  of the programs  that will                                                               
be  key  are STEM  programs.  Science  and climate  research  and                                                               
social  and economic  studies are  key  for Alaska.  She and  the                                                               
board  want to  hear from  state leaders  about what  programs to                                                               
prioritize. She  said that as  a regent and Alaskan,  she invites                                                               
ongoing conversations. She personally  believes that the world is                                                               
undergoing  so  much  rapid  change   that  it  is  difficult  to                                                               
concretely  answer questions  like that.  Everyone needs  to step                                                               
back to  look at the overall  picture to see what  will emerge as                                                               
gems  to  safeguard. The  changes  are  unprecedented, so  it  is                                                               
important to continue to communicate.                                                                                           
SENATOR  HUGHES  observed that  things  like  Arctic studies  and                                                               
climate change  make sense for  Alaska because the  University of                                                               
Oklahoma probably will not face  those issues. She said she isn't                                                               
sure what  particular programs shine,  but she hopes  the regents                                                               
focus  on that  because  that  is how  the  university will  draw                                                               
students and improve the reputation of the university.                                                                          
CHAIR  STEVENS  added  that  he   would  also  like  biology  and                                                               
fisheries  research  and  wildlife   management  to  be  stressed                                                               
because they are important to Alaska.                                                                                           
SENATOR HUGHES said  the state is trying to turn  the ship for K-                                                               
12 students regarding reading proficiency  and Senator Begich has                                                               
a  bill  on  that  subject.  She noted  that  in  the  past  when                                                               
legislators asked  the university  about its  reading instruction                                                               
methods  to  train  teachers,   the  university  seemed  somewhat                                                               
defensive saying they  were doing it correctly. If  that were the                                                               
case,  the results  would  be apparent  in  the classrooms  where                                                               
those UA graduates are teaching, but  the state is not seeing it.                                                               
She  offered  her  belief  that  it will  take  effort  to  teach                                                               
teachers  how  to effectively  teach  reading  and suggested  the                                                               
university  monitor   the  progress  of  its   graduates  in  the                                                               
classrooms. She asked Ms. Garrett to  take that to the board. She                                                               
also asked Ms. Garret what her second priority would be.                                                                        
9:42:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. GARRETT answered that her  second priority is to get students                                                               
through the current  budget and pandemic situation with  a lot of                                                               
love  and compassion.  For the  long  haul, her  priority is  for                                                               
strong,  state   education.  She   would  like  to   invite  more                                                               
communication going forward. If she  were in charge of the state,                                                               
reading would  be taught to  younger students by  older students.                                                               
She would  have most  subjects presented  to younger  students by                                                               
older students.  That is  a model of  education that  is missing,                                                               
more  mentorship and  tutorial  from older  students for  younger                                                               
students. She  wishes she had a  mentor to guide her  through her                                                               
graduate program.                                                                                                               
CHAIR  STEVENS said  the committee  has spent  a lot  of time  on                                                               
Senator  Begich's bill  and learned  a lot.  The university  must                                                               
produce teachers who  are adept at teaching  reading to children,                                                               
but  the university  must help  teachers who  are already  in the                                                               
field to bring them up to best practices.                                                                                       
SENATOR BEGICH  shared that  he had  a last  thought that  may be                                                               
uncomfortable  for   Ms.  Garrett.   He  said  he   supports  her                                                               
nomination,  and he  values the  endorsements  that she  received                                                               
from  Regents Parker  and  Perdue.  He relayed  that  one of  the                                                               
reasons  that the  committee asks  a wide  range of  questions is                                                               
because members  want to know  the temperament of the  people who                                                               
serve  on boards  and commissions  and  how they  will work  with                                                               
other public  leaders. He  said this  is not  a question  and she                                                               
does  not need  to  respond  because he  will  still support  her                                                               
appointment,  but the  text  she  recently sent  to  a number  of                                                               
people that  another senator ought  to be reprimanded  for asking                                                               
hard questions  in the Finance  Committee raised  questions about                                                               
her temperament  and ability  to work  in situations  where there                                                               
may be  criticism. He  said legislators have  tough jobs  too and                                                               
their job is to  ask questions that get to the  heart of an issue                                                               
and help determine whether the  person can comport him or herself                                                               
in a  position of  public trust.  He said he  and she  have known                                                               
each other for  a decade and he trusts that  she will continue to                                                               
do a fine job on the Board  of Regents, but he would suggest that                                                               
as hard  as those questions  may have been, it  is the role  of a                                                               
senator to ask those questions.  He said he hopes she understands                                                               
that. He asked the record to reflect this.                                                                                      
MS.  GARRETT replied  she  was  grateful that  he  brought it  up                                                               
because  it has  been  on her  mind. She  said  her first  Senate                                                               
confirmation hearing  caught her off guard  primarily because she                                                               
serves on  the same team as  the senator on a  mission in support                                                               
of individuals in  the same state. As a leader,  she also expects                                                               
exceptional leadership.  She apologized if  she was out  of line,                                                               
but she offered  her belief that legislators can  speak to people                                                               
off  the record  to ascertain  the nature  of a  situation before                                                               
exposing it in  a public manner. As she grows  in her leadership,                                                               
she said she  hopes that she will grow more  respectful of others                                                               
and lead with an intention to serve.                                                                                            
SENATOR  BEGICH thanked  her  for the  response.  In addition  to                                                               
Northern  studies, he  would  include  anthropology and  history,                                                               
which are necessary  for Alaskan programming. He  thanked her for                                                               
her comments about the need to  learn and grow in these positions                                                               
and the  nature of  discovering humility  in going  through these                                                               
MS. GARRETT expressed appreciation to the committee.                                                                            
9:54:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  opened  public   testimony  on  the  confirmation                                                               
hearing for the Board of Regents.                                                                                               
9:55:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SHERRI BERRETA,  Regent, University  of Alaska Board  of Regents,                                                               
Eagle  River, Alaska,  said  Regent Garrett  has  been through  a                                                               
challenge. She answered committee questions  with a great deal of                                                               
thought  and composure.  In the  meetings that  she has  had with                                                               
Regent  Garrett,  she  has   been  professional  and  thoughtful.                                                               
Everybody  has  different  reactions  to situations.  She  is  an                                                               
emotional  person, but  she cares  deeply. She  puts representing                                                               
students at  the forefront.  In this  time of  uncertainty within                                                               
the university, state, and world,  having stability with her term                                                               
would be  helpful for the  Board of  Regents. The board  looks to                                                               
student  regents as  future leaders.  In the  five years  she has                                                               
served on the  board, she has viewed amazing young  people in the                                                               
community and  she looks  for great  things from  Regent Garrett.                                                               
The University of Alaska has  real challenges and the board hopes                                                               
it can  get through this current  crisis so it can  deal with the                                                               
big issue of education. That is  on the agenda with all the other                                                               
challenges. She said  she supports Cachet Garrett  as the student                                                               
9:58:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS closed public testimony and solicited a motion.                                                                   
9:58:33 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL stated that in  accordance with AS 39.05.080, the                                                               
Senate Education  Standing Committee  reviewed the  following and                                                               
recommends the appointments  be forwarded to a  joint session for                                                               
University of Alaska Board of Regents                                                                                         
Cachet Garrett - Fairbanks                                                                                                      
Signing  the   reports  regarding  appointments  to   boards  and                                                               
commissions in  no way reflects  individual members'  approval or                                                               
disapproval  of  the  appointees;   the  nominations  are  merely                                                               
forwarded to the full legislature for confirmation or rejection.                                                                
9:59:05 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
9:59:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS reconvened the meeting.                                                                                           
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Stevens adjourned the Senate Education Standing Committee                                                                 
at 9:59 a.m.                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Confirmations_UABOR_Garrett_19March2020.pdf SEDC 3/19/2020 9:00:00 AM
UnivAK Board of Regents - Confirmation Hearing - Cachet Garrett - March 19, 2020