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fairbanks hockey puck
05-13-2016, 10:58 AM
UA president proposes major restructure of system

By Matt Buxton, mbuxton@newsminer.com
FAIRBANKS—Facing a massive budget cut from the Legislature, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen announced on Thursday that he will push to combine the system's three campuses into a single combined university, ending the independent administration and accreditation of each.

Johnsen announced the potential for the broad restructuring of the UA system in a systemwide email on Thursday.

Potential advantages to single accreditation include greater flexibility in structuring and coordinating academic programs and administrative services across the system, fewer top-level administrators, greater responsiveness to student interests, and lower operating costs," he wrote.

Currently each campus—Fairbanks, Anchorage and Southeast—has its own accreditation and own administrative oversight.

Johnsen also proposes an accelerated review of the University of Alaska's teacher education, management and business, and engineering programs as part of a broader plan to review redundancies between the state's three campuses. On the non-academic side, Johnsen has proposed a review of research administration and intercollegiate athletics among others.

Johnsen had hoped for a more methodical review of the system, under a framework called Strategic Pathways, but the cuts legislators are considering changed that.

All of the points laid out in the email will be brought to the Board of Regents at their June meeting for approval.

The letter paints a grim picture for the University of Alaska's finances. As it stands, the Legislature is considering a $50 million cut in general funding from the $350 million the university system received for the current fiscal year. Johnsen wrote that with other increased costs, unfunded mandates and contractual obligations that the cut will effectively be about $25 million larger. In total, it amounts to a 22 percent cut in funding from the current year.

"We hope the Legislature restores some funding as it completes its work in Juneau, but the uncertainty surrounding the budget forces us to plan for the worst while we advocate for what we need," he wrote.

The state budget remains unresolved as the Legislature blew past the 90-day voter-approved session and ran into the 121-day constitutional session. The constitutional session will expire on Wednesday, though legislators can vote to extend an additional 10 days.

There's the potential for legislators to return to the budget number for the university to either increase it or cut it further.

Johnsen stressed that the decision process is pushing forward despite the uncertainty.

As part of that uncertainty, Johnsen also announced he would end the search for a new chancellor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks because a system under single accreditation would eliminate that position.

"Our greatest enemy is uncertainty. Uncertainty with respect to our budget from the state and how those (likely) cuts will affect our mission. Uncertainty about the UAF chancellor position. Uncertainty about what academic programs will be cut, maintained, or grown. Uncertainty about our administrative structure," he wrote. "By announcing these actions now, I hope to provide you some degree of certainty in an otherwise uncertain world."

More information about the potential changes and ways to offer input are available online at www.alaska.edu/pathways.

fairbanks hockey puck
05-13-2016, 11:00 AM
UA president: No new chancellor for Fairbanks campus
By Weston Morrow, wmorrow@newsminer.com
FAIRBANKS—The University of Alaska Fairbanks will not have a new chancellor for the foreseeable future, according to a note sent to university staff Thursday.

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen said he has decided not to hire any of the four finalists for the UAF chancellor position. Johnson said he made the decision, not because he was unsatisfied with them, but because UA may eliminate the chancellor position altogether.

Johnsen said UA is considering a complete restructure, consolidating its three separately accredited universities into a single accredited institution.

"The candidates for the position each had strengths, but I cannot in good conscience bring someone in knowing that we will be evaluating single accreditation that could result in elmination of that position," Johnsen wrote.

Instead of hiring a permanent replacement, the university will hire a new interim chancellor to replace current interim Chancellor Mike Powers, who plans to leave in August. Powers began serving as interim chancellor in September 2015. Johnsen said he plans to fill the position by the end of May.

Johnsen said the chancellor position at UAF will not be the only position effected if the consolidation occurs. He said UA will likely cut "a substantial number of high-level administrative positions beginning this year."

UAF had narrowed its search for a new chancellor to four finalists: Sandra Woodley, former president of the University of Louisiana System; Laura Woodworth-Ney, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Idaho State University; Tony Haymet, distinguished professor of oceanography and director and vice chancellor emeritus at the Scripps Institution at the University of California San Diego; and M. Duane Nellis, former president of Texas Tech University.

Each of the finalists visited UAF this spring to meet with students, staff and community members.

Critical Thinker
05-13-2016, 11:28 AM
Ouch. Now that they're leaving the highest position at a school vacant, I would expect a consolidation is guaranteed.

05-13-2016, 02:22 PM
So now they all become UA_? ;)

05-13-2016, 03:10 PM
Intriguing. I wonder what the implications would be for their athletic departments?

I mean, the more dramatic interpretation is that without separate universities, they have to "merge" their programs together, right?

05-13-2016, 03:15 PM
Here are your SeaNooks

05-13-2016, 03:16 PM

Just too many good options to choose from.

05-14-2016, 08:05 PM

Just too many good options to choose from.

Well played sir. Thanks for the laugh.

05-16-2016, 01:21 PM
Could see both programs dying out. Too far away from everybody else, and don't see the rest of college hockey rushing in to save them. Trips to AK are grueling and must cost a lot, even with subsidization from the Alaska schools.

The Sicatoka
05-16-2016, 02:11 PM
Here are your SeaNooks

Shouldn't that be SEaNooks to tip the cap to UA-Southeast (with campuses in Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan)?

John J. MacInnes
05-18-2016, 02:27 PM