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President Johnsen presents his final Statewide Transformation decisions in the context of the university's mission and state budget crisis. Photo by Monique Musick

System News April 2016

  • Statewide Transformation Decisions Announced at Staff Forums
  • UA Announces New Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Staff Recognized for Service to Students
  • Regents Meeting Focuses on Budget Issues and Strategic Planning
  • Upcoming Regent Board and Committee Meetings
  • Leadership Training an Important Part of Change Management
  • Vice President of Academic Affairs and Research has Begun Investigating Single Accreditation Impacts
  • Johnsen Announces Potential Tuition Rate Changes
  • President Johnsen's Message to Staff on Title IX External Review

Statewide Transformation Decisions Announced at Staff Forums

On April 14, President Johnsen met with Statewide (SW) staff in Fairbanks and Anchorage to share decisions regarding Statewide Transformation. The purpose of the transformation process was to articulate SW’s role, and provide broad analysis of structural, cultural, collaborative and management issues that will be important for restructuring the university and creating efficiencies heading into lean budget years. Before announcing the final decisions during the face-to-face meetings, Johnsen considered the recommendations of the SW Transformation Team and subsequent working groups, staff feedback, and discussions with SW leadership and the University of Alaska (UA) Summit Team.   

A copy of his presentation can be downloaded HERE.

The 113 final recommendations of the Statewide Transformation involve reductions in functions or positions, changes in the location of work being done, and changes in how SW collaborates with the campuses. During the meeting, Johnsen reminded staff that the Statewide Transformation needs to be considered in context with UA’s role and mission, the current budget situation and the guiding principles behind the university’s restructuring efforts, including Strategic Pathways. UA needs to meet state needs while focusing on the individual strengths of each of our universities and our administrative and enterprise systems. As part of that consideration, President Johnsen discussed his emphasis on the reduction of upper administration. Administration at all levels of the university will be reviewed, with a targeted 20 percent reduction of senior positions by FY17.

Some of the recommendations have already been accomplished and some will take longer, but in general, they all fall into 30-, 60- or 90-day time frames starting from April 14 when the decisions were announced.  OVERVIEW and MORE....

For a summary overview of what moves to campuses, what moves within Statewide, what doesn’t change, what roles have been defined for Statewide, what gets reduced or reassigned, what Councils will be established or better defined, and what needs further evaluation click HERE.

Staff Recognized for Service to Students

2016 Staff Make Students Count Awards: Carolyn Chapin, Ryan Hill, Buffy Kuiper, Brenda Hurley

Four staff members were recognized by President Johnsen during the April Board of Regents meeting for outstanding service to students. From Statewide the awardee was Buffy Kuiper, program specialist with the UA Scholars Program. Ryan Hill, first-year resident coordinator at the University of Alaska Anchorage; Brenda Hurley, records and registration clerk at the University of Southeast- Ketchikan; and, Carolyn Chapin, undergraduate academic advising counselor at University of Alaska Fairbanks were were the other three award recipients. This year's award winners received a plaque, $1,000 and two airline vouchers.

The Staff Make Students Count Awards were established in the spring of 1999 to recognize university staff who have provided outstanding service to students. Service to students may include service as part of the job or volunteer service, either directly to students or behind the scenes. Four awards are available, one for each university (UAA, UAF, UAS) and Statewide. What makes this award particularly special is that peer nominations and award selection committees determine recipients. The award is funded by the UA Foundation.

Read more about the 2016 Staff Make Students Count recipients HERE.

Regents Meeting Focuses on Budget Issues and Strategic Planning

A two-day Board of Regents meeting focused on tough budget and planning discussions was punctuated by some festive moments, most notably a visit from the UAA women’s basketball team just returning from NCAA Division II national playoffs, and an award ceremony acknowledging staff excellence across the University of Alaska system.

The primary focus of the meeting was a preliminary discussion of the university’s FY17 contingency budget planning and a thoughtful discussion about processes for investing in important programs in the face of budget reductions.

President Jim Johnsen said he sought the regent’s guidance to help prepare for the changes to come, and to use Strategic Pathways as the framework to evaluate the difficult choices the university faces in the months ahead regarding program, service and personnel changes.

“I’ve said all along that our job at the university is to meet state needs and show the state that the University of Alaska is an important and wise investment in the state’s future. We will lead by example and demonstrate that when faced with budget adversity, we know what to do even though the choices are tough,” Johnsen said. Those changes, he said, will occur at each campus and at the highest levels of the university’s administration. MORE....

Leadership Training an Important Part of Change Management

The institutional changes sought through Strategic Pathways will require strong leadership throughout the University of Alaska system. To that end, President Johnsen is offering the Leading in the 21st Century Leadership Training Program to deliver leadership, communication, conflict prevention, change management and other skills to 44 university employees in Fairbanks over the course of three three-day modules beginning in August. The primary goal of this training is to teach a common language of management and leadership across the UA system in order to facilitate communication and build bonds across departments and universities. An additional goal of each of the cohorts is to build a network of peers not only to teach the new common language and other skills learned from the training, but to work together across departments in other university initiatives. 

For more information about the training program and link to apply, click HERE. The application deadline for Statewide staff in Fairbanks is May 30.

For further information contact Cara Eckman in SW HR at 450-8215 or email  cmeckman@alaska.edu.

Note: Applications from UAF were conducted separately and closed May 3.

Upcoming Regent Board and Committee Meetings

There are a number of Regent meetings coming up in May and June. In order to allow time for adequate discussion, committee meetings that would normally be scheduled for the afternoon of June 2 will be held as video conferenced meetings on May 26.

  • Thursday, May 26 , 9:00a - 11:00a - (Video) Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting (held in place of the June 2 committee meeting)
  • Thursday, May 26 , 1:00p - 4:00p - (Video) Facilities and Land Management Committee meeting (held in place of the June 2 committee meeting)

A special committee meeting will be held on May 24 to discuss options for accepting public testimony over audio, video or at alternate times in order to accommodate rural constituents and community members who may not be able to make regularly scheduled public testimony opportunities.

  • Tuesday, May 24 , 1:00p - 2:00p - (Video) Special Planning and Development Committee meeting to review/discuss public testimony options

The next full meeting of the Board of Regents will be in Anchorage June 2-3 at the Lee Gorsuch Commons on the UAA campus. Public testimony will be taken at approximately 9:15-10:15 a.m. Thursday, June 2 and approximately 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 3.

  • Thursday June 2 - Friday June 3 - Full Board Meeting UAA Gorsuch Commons

Agendas for these meetings, and a link to the live web stream, will be posted on the Board of Regents website: www.alaska.edu/bor/agendas/

Written testimony may be submitted via email at any time and is shared with the Board and the president: ua-bor@alaska.edu.

UA Announces New Chief Human Resources Officer

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen has appointed longtime human resources professional and UA alumna Keli Hite McGee as chief human resources officer for the University of Alaska Statewide System. She is currently serving as the CEO of Alaska Heart and Vascular Institute in Anchorage, and brings to the university more than 20 years of professional experience in human resources, consulting, executive coaching, training and communications.

McGee will start in the position June 12, replacing Interim Chief Human Resource Officer Ardith Lynch, who also serves as the university’s associate general counsel.

“The ongoing success of the University of Alaska depends on the talent and expertise of all our employees so I’m extremely pleased to welcome someone of Keli’s caliber to UA to head our human resources team. She will be a strong member of our leadership team and be taking the lead in the critical areas of employee relations, change management, and leadership training and development - issues our institution will be facing as we move into the challenging times ahead,” said Johnsen. “She will be a key player in our strategic short and longer term planning and we are fortunate to find this very qualified Alaskan – who incidentally holds two degrees from the University of Alaska.”

In her current position, McGee has been providing leadership and direction to more than 200 employees, restructuring the organization in all areas and building strong community relations. From 2000-2012, McGee was an executive coach for Hites Consulting Inc. where she managed strategic planning training and worked with individuals to achieve business growth. She has also held senior-level human resources positions at companies including Tanana Valley College, Fairbanks Daily News Miner, UAF and Golden Valley Electric Association. McGee has a proven track record of building teams focused on attracting top talent, transforming organizations, leading human resources activity and creating an engaged workforce.

UA employs approximately 8,600 full- and part-time employees in locations across the state, with an estimated economic footprint of more than $1 billion. After federal and state government employment, UA is the single largest employer in Alaska.  

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Research has Begun Investigating Single Accreditation Impacts

Dr. Daniel White, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research, has started the process of investigating a single accreditation for the University of Alaska (UA), which was requested by both the Alaska Legislature and the UA Board of Regents. Currently, each University operates under its own Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accreditation.

A substantial change in accreditation is a significant process that includes a short application (notice) and a full proposal to the NWCCU. UA has not submitted either. On April 19, Dr. White sent a letter to NWCCU President Dr. Sandra Elman requesting a single accreditation consultation to begin dialogue on this issue.

In addition to investigating single accreditation, UA is developing the Strategic Pathways framework to guide the university system through the next several years of change. A major component of Strategic Pathways is to create lead campuses. While UA keeps its accreditation standards in line with NWCCU standards, the lead campus model will assist with streamlining efforts and increasing efficiencies through shared services models.

Johnsen Announces Potential Tuition Rate Changes

On April 15 President Johnsen sent a memo about tuition to Regents, the System Governance Council and the Coalition of Student Regents announcing his intention to request an amendment to the already approved Academic Year 2017 tuition rates and a proposal to increase tuition in Academic year 2018 to help offset dramatic reductions in state general fund support. He also addressed recommendations made by the Tuition Task force regarding consistency across the system including tuition rates in Kodiak and Valdez, rates for eLeaning classes in relation to residency, and non-resident surcharge similarity for graduate and undergraduate level courses.

UA’s 4-year tuition rates are competitive and even low compared to our peers while tuition for programs at our community and technical campuses is among the highest in the nation. To that end, UA is working on a strategy to offer some relief to students enrolled in vocational / technical programs at the community campuses, while at the same time providing revenue to meet university obligations. While we may not be able to afford such an approach in the current fiscal climate, it is considered a big piece of the puzzle in increasing the college going rate in Alaska.

Johnsen will offer a final recommendation to the Board of Regents for amending AY2017 rates and propose rates for AY2018 no later than September 2016 - in time for consultation with students prior to a decision at the November 10-11 BOR meeting.

Tuition revenue makes up only about 10 percent of UA’s overall budget. The costs of instruction already are subsidized heavily by other sources, and will continue to be so under these proposals.

This proposal comes after thorough discussion and support of all three chancellors and the Summit Team. However, it will be up to the Board of Regents to make the final determination.

President Johnsen's Message to Staff on Title IX External Review

April 22, 2016

Dear Colleagues –

Today, I released the external review of factors that led to the breakdown in student discipline processes at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The Board of Regents and I commissioned an independent review last fall, and I retained Anchorage attorney Jeff Feldman to look at three issues: the root causes for the discipline breakdown; whether UA leadership (UAF, System, & Board) took appropriate action once the problem was discovered; and whether effective steps were taken to address the systemic or other failures that occurred.

The report identified three primary causes for the failure: the discipline philosophy of the former UAF dean of students; an initial lack of understanding and response to 2011 Title IX guidance; and a lack of oversight by top UAF administrators as well as inadequate resources for Title IX and student discipline.  MORE...

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