June 4, 2020

Board of Regents Chair Statement in Support of UA President Johnsen

The University of Alaska Board of Regents acknowledges the announcement issued this week by the University of Wisconsin System, and can understand why President Johnsen has been named as the finalist for the System’s president. His skills and leadership abilities are outstanding, and his ability to work with the Board through the tough times we’ve faced over the past five years has made all the difference. 

Jim led us through our early challenges with campus sexual misconduct and Title IX; he has been our negotiator on all budget issues; and, I want to thank him for the difficult work he did to negotiate the compact agreement with Gov. Dunleavy. His leadership saved the university from financial exigency. Most recently, he led us through the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic all while keeping our students and employees safe, and the university functioning.

While the budget and COVID-19 issues before us may seem daunting, we are confident in the university's future. We have a strong board populated by great leaders, and we are more than prepared to take up the challenge and make the hard decisions. Equal to that task are our chancellors who will help us lead through the issues we face. Together, we will ensure a strong University of Alaska for many years to come.

If Jim does leave the university, the board may choose to appoint an interim president to serve and help us through this transformation. We will commence a presidential search when the time is right.

I want to reiterate that we so value Jim Johnsen and the vision he has set for UA. He’s given us options to consider for transforming the university, and we will be sorry to lose him to the University of Wisconsin. If the final decision goes that way, we wish him every happiness and the best of luck.

Thank you for everything, Jim, you’ve been an incredible leader and president.