Task Force on University Structure

Task Force July 12, 2019 Meeting Summary

E-mail from Chair Davies to Task Force Members

Date: July 23, 2019
RE:  UA Task Force July 31 and Beyond

Dear Members of the Task Force,

I sincerely thank each of you for your service on the Task Force.

At this time, please cancel future meetings and travel arrangements; however, I would like to ask that you continue thinking about the Task Force charge, be willing to reconvene (on-call basis), and to serve in an advisory capacity (not to extend beyond the end of November 2019) as the Board of Regents considers structural challenges and opportunities.

Task Force Chair Beedle will provide notes from your July 12 meeting for you to review and recommend edits or opinion comments to memorialize your initial efforts which will provide counsel to the Board of Regents regarding university structure consistent with the scope of your assignment. 

Again, thank you for your time and service.


John Davies, Chair
Board of Regents

The chair of the University of Alaska Board of Regents has announced appointments to a task force that will explore options for the university system’s future structure. 

Task Force Members
  • One former and one current member of the Board of Regents: Jo Heckman, and Sheri Buretta

  • Three Alaska private sector leaders: Tom Barrett/Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., Aaron Schutt/Doyon Ltd., and Joe Beedle/former CEO, Northrim Bank

  • One rural Alaska leader: Reggie Joule/former legislator and mayor and currently a lobbyist for K-12 education

  • Three retired UA faculty members: Terrence Cole/UAF, Cathy Connor/UAS, and Gunnar Knapp/UAA

  • One former UA executive: Wendy Redman/former UA executive vice president

  • One student: Joey Sweet/UAA and former UA student regent

Task Force Charge:

The task force is charged with evaluating the following structural options for the UA system – and others at its discretion – and with providing an update to the Board of Regents in September, and a final report in November. 

  • Status Quo – Three separately accredited universities with the community college campuses part of their respective regional university.
  • Lead Campus – Three separately accredited universities but with more focus of specific academic programs at each single university along with expanded availability of courses across the system via distance delivery. Also, reorganize the community college campuses to report to one of the lead campuses.
  • One University – A single accredited university for all of Alaska with the community colleges organized as a unit within the university.
  • Three independent universities – Three separately accredited universities and associated community colleges with independent administrations and no statewide administration. 
  • The task force will assess these and possibly other options for the university’s structure using existing strategic plans as well as the vision established in UA2040 (www.alaska.edu/ua2040), the work done in the Strategic Pathways process, assessments and recommendations from past reviews of university structure, and input to be gathered from key stakeholders over the next several months.

As the task force evaluates the structural options, it will consider how each option would serve interests such as these and others:

  • Support for UA's 2040 vision
  • Service to the university's strategic goals
  • Affordability and a seamless experience for our students
  • Broad access to our programs for Alaskans across the state
  • Excellence in our educational, research and public outreach activities

The issue of the university’s structure has been addressed numerous times over the years. In 1974, the university restructured from a single university to three separately accredited universities and numerous separately accredited community colleges. In 1987 the community colleges were integrated into the universities, resulting in the current organizational structure. Several additional efforts have been made in recent years to assess and potentially modify the university’s structure, including several reports by external consultants, a report on a single accreditation prepared in 2016, the Strategic Pathways process in 2016-2017, and options being considered by the Board of Regents in its current budget deliberations.