Board of Regents directs UA administration to conduct an in-depth review of the university’s education programs

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March 2, 2019    The University of Alaska Board of Regents directed President Jim Johnsen and the university administration to conduct an expedited review of UAA’s education programs and report the findings to the board at a special meeting on April 8.

Regents discussed at length the impacts of the options presented by UA President Jim Johnsen. Most notably, regents focused on their commitment to students who deserve a certain path to licensure as teachers from an accredited and approved program in Anchorage.

“We are trying to figure out the most secure way to provide students the education that we promised them. That requires sitting down and thinking out of the box about the best options moving forward,” said Regent Karen Perdue. “We owe that to these students.”

Regents directed the administration to conduct the expedited program review, and they will make a final decision on April 8. They also directed the president not to reinstate enrollment in initial licensure programs at UAA pending their decision in April.

The board discussed how to balance optimism and opportunity while dealing with the uncertainty caused by the $134 million budget cut to state funding proposed by the governor to UA’s FY20 budget. The board reviewed five broad options for moving forward, which included elimination of whole programs and consolidation of administrative functions, community campuses, and other academic and administrative programs and services. 

The cumulative impact of budget reductions over the past four out of five years is $195 million, Johnsen said. “The university has worked hard at expense reduction, diversifying revenues, expanding private partnerships and reducing its facility footprint. This proposed additional cut is simply not a manageable cut.”

“The university is limited in its ability to respond to this dramatic and sudden budget cut by accreditation standards, long-term program commitments to our students, and the state’s poor economic conditions,” he said. “We will work with legislators and the governor for a sustainable funding model, and engage Alaskans who support a positive vision for Alaska to communicate with state leaders about UA’s importance to Alaska’s economy and its future.”

Regent Gloria O’Neill said she has been thinking about what UA will look like in the future. “I know this will be a collective dream and efforts of many… but I think that it’s important to know that we are a university that prioritizes our place in the world. We have a commitment to maintain our status as the world leader in Arctic research. Regardless of the size of our budget, we cannot compromise our leadership position because we will never get it back.”

Student leaders told regents they have already started a public advocacy campaign, and shared with them their efforts including the development of a student-produced video “It’s on you,” created by the student-led group Alaska Education Matters. The video has been viewed more than 10,000 times since it was released last week.

In other action, the Board received a variety of reports including such topics as workforce development, finance, philanthropy, and government relations. The Board also approved a Resolution of Appreciation for outgoing Student Regent Joey Sweet.