Overview of Statewide and the impacts of budget reductions

Statewide Voice Article, Nov. 2016
As the University of Alaska examines how best to position itself to meet the future needs of Alaska and its students, steps have been taken to reduce Statewide administrative costs. A series of initiatives including Statewide Transformation and Strategic Pathways have, and will continue to shape and restructure the university as a whole.

The intent of this overview is to provide a look at  where reductions have been made, where reorganizations have occurred and to outline the purpose of the centralized functions remaining at Statewide.  READ.

Updates to Statewide Transformation Decisions

As part of ongoing efforts to communicate about changes underway as a result of the Statewide Transformation review, charts with the final recommendations, RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) appointments and status updates have been posted to newly created pages on the Transformation Team website

On April 14, President Johnsen announced 113 recommendations including reductions in functions or positions, changes in the location of work being done, and changes in how Statewide collaborates with campuses. There were deadlines associated with each recommendation varying from done or no change to 30-, 60-, or 90- days.

Since April, there have been massive changes affecting Statewide and the UA system as a whole, including the State passing a budget with a $25 million  reduction, the launching of Strategic Pathways reviews, research into institutional accreditation and ongoing discussions on optimizing the university system. While many of the Statewide Transformation recommendations have been completed or are in progress, others have had the deadlines extended or have been incorporated into Strategic Pathways reviews.

The President has tasked his direct reports with providing status updates on the recommendations under their authority. Those ongoing reports will be used to periodically update the webpages.

Academic Affairs/University Relations



Human Resources

Information Technology

RACI Model Applied to Final Transformation Decisions

The RACI model has been assigned for all the SW Transformation Decisions. Download a PDF updated May 24, 2016 for details on who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed for each recommendation.

Statewide Transformation FAQ's

April 14, 2016 update Statewide Transformation FAQ's  READ

Presentation of Final Decisions and Timelines

PDF version of April 14 Powerpoint presentation to Statewide staff. DOWNLOAD

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.    

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.

Read the FULL STORY in the April Statewide Voice.

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.

Message to Statewide Staff Regarding Forums - April 13, 2016

Dear Statewide Colleagues,

Tomorrow I will be meeting with you in Fairbanks and in Anchorage to share my decisions regarding the Statewide Transformation Team and Working Group recommendations. These two groups have done their due diligence and I am thankful for all the feedback and suggestions. I have considered these recommendations, discussed them with Statewide leadership, the Statewide Transformation Steering Committee, and the UA Summit Team, and am now ready to announce them to you. Tomorrow's meeting will focus on the choices I've made. The next important step will be the implementation of those decisions. The implementation timeline will occur over the next 90 days. As the implementation details resulting from these decisions are fleshed out and become available, your department leader will share them with you.

Tomorrow's meeting in Fairbanks will begin at 9:00 am in Butrovich 109 and in Anchorage at 2:00 pm in Bragaw 205. I hope you can attend and I will be happy to answer as many questions as time allows. Both forums will be web
streamed for those who cannot attend in-person, and a link to the presentation will be provided after the meetings conclude.

You can find a link to the web stream for each forum on the day of the event at:

I hope to see you all there.

Jim Johnsen

Statewide Transformation Steering Committee Summary Document

The original Statewide Transformation Team (SWTT) (now functioning as a Steering Committee) presented President Johnsen with a summary document which includes a comparison between the original SWTT recommendations and the Working Team (WT) recommendations. 

The summary can be downloaded HERE.

The SWTT understands that the charge for the WTs may have been broader than the original charge to the SWTT and was less focused on streamlining the Statewide organization. Final comments from the SWTT are included in an effort to move viable items closer to implementation; recognizing changes must be made to the scope, size and culture of the Statewide Administration within the next fiscal year at a time when the universities are also downsizing to meet budgetary reductions

Where items are already in progress, it is noted. Consideration was given to all working team input. Where working teams did not address or expand on the item, the SWTT reaffirmed the original recommendation or made modifications where applicable.

President Johnsen will update staff on the progress of Statewide Transformation and answer questions about the process and the implementation of recommendations on April 14 during face-to-face meetings in Fairbanks 9 – 10:00 a.m. in Butrovich 109; and in Anchorage from 2 – 3:00 p.m. in Bragaw 205. Both forums will be web streamed for those who cannot attend in-person.

Statewide Transformation Working Teams Recommendations

Summary report of the six Statewide Transformation Working Teams submitted to President Johnsen March 1, 2016  READ

Comparison charts (original Transformation Team recommendations compared to Working Team recommendations) and implementation difficulty rating from Sibson consulting  READ

Statewide Transformation Team Recommendations Compared with Original Report

The six Statewide Transformation Working Teams have presented their recommendations to President Johnsen who will be discussing them on March 29 with the Summit Team. Decisions related to Statewide Transformation will be made April 14, with implementation, in most cases, planned for July 1. The working teams reviewed the recommendations of the original Transformation Team, sometimes not supporting them, but often supporting or supporting with additional considerations.

Working Team recommendations were organized and presented in four major categories: Strategy, Governance, Operational Efficiencies & Process Redesign, and People. Some of the recommendations affect only the UA System office while others affect the universities and the 13 campuses. A Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed [RACI] analysis was conducted on each recommendation.

Sibson consulting has prepared comparison charts of the original Statewide Transformation Team recommendations and the Working Teams reports, along with a list of newly created recommendations. In addition they rated the difficulty of implementation of each recommendation and provided a description of their rating metrics.

The Sibson packet with the charts for each Working Team can be downloaded HERE.

Transformation Working Teams Report Under Review - Update March 4


Dear Colleagues –
Now more than ever, with anticipated budget reductions, Statewide administration must be cost-effective and focused on its mission: providing high quality leadership and service to the universities and their campuses.

To that end, a lot of good people have worked diligently since December of last year to thoughtfully arrive at recommendations -- and suggested approaches on implementing those recommendations -- for the transformation of UA Statewide. The reports of the six Working Teams are now in and are available at www.alaska.edu/swbir/transformation-team/. Please take time to review the reports. If you would like to provide feedback, please use the form on the site or you may email me at ua.president@alaska.edu.

All six Working Teams considered preliminary recommendations of the Statewide Transformation Steering Committee, which were made available to you last September. Working Teams also weighed a variety of factors, including your many comments and suggestions.

The Working Teams have done their due diligence in considering your early feedback and suggestions. Now it is my turn to review their recommendations and discuss them with Statewide leadership, the Statewide Transformation Steering Committee, and ultimately the UA Summit Team. I will make the hard but necessary decisions on these recommendations in early April and announce them personally shortly thereafter. Implementation tasks and timelines will then be assigned with the goal of implementation, in most cases, by July 1.

My sincere thanks to all who participated in this effort to transform Statewide for the better.

Jim Johnsen
University of Alaska President

Working Teams Met, Starting to Finalize Their Reports - Update Feb. 5, 2016

The six teams commissioned to advance the Statewide Transformation Team’s recommendations held additional working sessions on January 28 and January 29.

The teams considered a variety of recommendations and are working to finalize their reports. The teams will work over the next two weeks to further refine their recommendations and to define and develop suggested approaches for implementing their recommendations. The teams will meet again mid to late February to finalize draft recommendations to be shared with the Statewide staff, the Summit Team and Statewide Leadership the beginning of March.

For more information, or to provide additional feedback or suggestions, please contact working team members.


Statewide Transformation Working Teams Launched   - Dec. 8, 2015

The six working teams commissioned to advance the Statewide Transformation Team’s recommendations held productive initial working sessions on December 3 and 4. This is an update on the initial meetings and what you can expect going forward.

The teams began by focusing on the current organization and operations of their assigned functional areas. They reviewed their areas’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, the Transformation Team’s recommendations, and what other institutions are doing to address similar challenges. Team Leaders were identified to support communication efforts and to ensure effective coordination across the six teams. Team Leaders are as follows:


Team Leader


 Myron Dosch, Sandi Culver

Academic Affairs and Research, University Relations & UA Foundation

 Doug Goering


Martha Mason, Pat Shier


Jennifer Harris

Enterprise IT Management

Erin Holmes

Human Resources

Tara Ferguson

The teams will meet in January and February to refine recommendations and develop implementation plans, with the final recommendations due to the President March 1. We will continue to update you on their progress.

Update: Addendum to Preliminary Report - Nov. 30, 2015

In October the Statewide Transformation Team (SWTT) met with the each of the President’s direct reports, leadership staff, and staff governance representatives to address the four following questions about the SWTT recommendations for SW:

  1. Which recommendations make sense by (a) maintaining and/or improving service, compliance, effectiveness; and (b) reducing cost?
  2. Which recommendations require some refining and why?
  3. Which recommendations should not be further considered and why?
  4. What additional recommendations do you have and why do they make sense?

Additionally, the SWTT reviewed a large amount of written feedback from across the UA system. Some key areas received much more feedback than others. It is clear that observations made in the initial report must be considered carefully and thoughtfully before implementation. Although there are timelines set by the President to achieve results, it is important to note an appropriate amount of time will be committed to ensure these changes are made correctly rather than quickly. The SWTT affirms the initial observations and report; however, certain recommendations require additional review based on the feedback received.

Where items are not listed for additional review, it is an indication that recommendations in the initial report are still supported by the SWTT.   READ FULL ADDENDUM TO REPORT HERE

Timeline Extended, Working Teams Developed To Further Transformation Process - Nov. 25, 2015

President Johnsen has invited SW and campus employees, representing diverse perspectives, to six focused working teams to advance the Transformation Team’s initial recommendations. The working teams will review recommendations, explore and assess various alternatives and refine recommendations. They will be facilitated and supported by professionals from Sibson Consulting, under the direction of the President, with ongoing input from the Transformation Team.

Team meetings will be held monthly December through February with recommendations due to the President March 1. The first meetings will be in December with Administration, Enterprise IT and Human Resources working teams to meet on Dec 3 and the Finance, Academic Affairs and Research, University Relations & Foundation teams to meet on Dec 4. This critical work will help ensure the Statewide Office can best serve UA faculty and staff, so that they can best serve our students.

Johnsen will review the recommendations with the Summit Team in March. Implementation tasks and timelines will be assigned in April with implementation targeted for implementation by July 1.

Staff feedback was important in supporting the need for further examination of alternative service models and reinforced concerns raised about organizational culture. Ongoing communication between the working teams and staff will be will be an important component of the assessment and strategy development work.

Click HERE for a list of the Statewide and campus employees invited to participate.

Process and Timeline Update


On October 28, President Johnsen and the members of the Statewide Transformation Team meet with Statewide department heads to discuss the preliminary recommendations, staff feedback and future direction of the transformation process. On November 3 Johnsen will meet with the Summit Team to discuss the initial recommendations. Over the next month Johnsen will oversee the formation of cross-campus teams to closer evaluate specific functional areas and discuss alternatives and recommendations. In order to ensure an inclusive and thorough review of the alternatives by both SW and campus staff, the process is being extended so that final recommendations are due to the President on March 1, with implementation set for July 1. In addition, expert/neutral consultants in each area will be facilitating the discussions so that the recommendations will serve the best interest of the university as a whole.

President Johnsen plans to provide a detailed update to all SW staff in a Town Hall in November. More on that to come.

Many thanks to all staff who provided feedback, suggestions and concerns. Those responses have been shared with team members and university leadership and will be used in the next phase of analysis and planning.

Feedback Sought on Preliminary Recommendations


Please use the following links to download two documents related to the SW Transformation project:

Statewide Transformation Process Timeline
Preliminary Recommendations from the Statewide Transformation Team

The first is an overview of the process and schedule. The second is a preliminary set of recommendations from the Transformation Team. As you will see, the process provides an opportunity for feedback to the Transformation Team and to me. That feedback will be essential for successful implementation of any changes we make.

In December, I will make decisions on the recommendations and an implementation plan will be developed. Implementation will begin January 1 and be completed by July 1, 2016. I would note that a small number of recommendations have already been implemented or are in process. These involve situations where functional leads took advantage of opportunities, as they occurred, to implement streamlining measures.

As you review the preliminary recommendations, I ask that you keep the following thoughts in mind:

1. Our goal is to improve cost-effective, high quality service to our universities and to lead the university.
2. We must be as lean as we can be so our resources can be focused on our educational mission.
3.  Good people with good intentions prepared this report. Please prepare your inputs/feedback with this in mind.
4. You have a valuable opportunity to weigh in constructively. Please take advantage of it.
5. How you participate is every bit as important as your substantive feedback. Through this process, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our leadership for the system, both to our universities and to the public.
6. We will follow this SW process with processes on the university campuses, where I believe there are additional efficiencies to be achieved.

A form for feedback is available on this website. As questions come up, we will respond quickly, developing and sharing responses in a frequently asked questions (FAQs) document which will also be posted here.

Thank you for your patience and for your constructive feedback to the Transformation Team and me as we take the next steps in improving our university. We recognize that these recommendations and plan implementation will impact people.  We are committed to being responsive to your questions and concerns.

James R. Johnsen

Incoming President Jim Johnsen was briefed last week by the SW Transformation Team (SWTT) on the work they have done in reviewing SW programs and services. He strongly endorses President Gamble’s intent for the review--to make sure SW provides the most cost-effective, highest quality leadership and service for the university--and was eager to talk with the Team directly. In the coming weeks and months, UA employees can expect to see the following steps being taken:

●      review of the preliminary recommendations with SW and university leaders,
●      modification and finalization of the initial recommendations based on feedback from affected departments in SW and at the universities,
●      formation of an implementation team, and
●      implementation.

In the meantime, similar work will be undertaken at the three universities to make sure all are providing the cost-effective, high quality programs and services that UA students deserve. Here is some of the framing language in the SWTT’s draft report, which is a good first step in describing the mission at SW:

The University of Alaska’s Statewide (SW) office exists to provide leadership, broad policy and strategic direction, and a certain level of support to the three universities in its system. An effective SW entity will be lean, smart and valued for its service. It will demonstrate clarity with regards to its purpose and system level strategic direction, foster collaborative decision-making and help to ensure resources invested in the system are strategically applied.

The Statewide Transformation Team developed a functional org chart for the system office outlining the key activities for each unit within statewide. The chart was based on information gathered from written submissions (see supporting documents) and interviews with the president’s direct reports as well as budget and staffing data. The team is reviewing each activity in relation to the four essential roles the team agreed require SW involvement.

  1. External Representation – where there is a need for the university to present itself as a single institution
  2. Compliance – at the level of legal interpretation and enterprise-level risk assessment
  3. Stewards of Shared Resources – of assets such as non-educational lands, the UA network, and foundation/endowment
  4. Leadership, Governance and Strategic Vision – to provide system-level strategic direction, foster collaboration and effective and efficient use of resources to fulfill UA’s mission, and ensure alignment on objectives

As they review each functional area the team is categorizing recommendations into four groups: no change to function or statewide unit; potential for a university to take the lead; potential to reorganize or realign within statewide; potential to stop the activity.

This effort is intended to clarify SW’s essential roles and recommend to UA leadership ways to fulfill the responsibilities associated with those roles in a way that manages resources wisely and ensures the best possible service to the UA system’s three universities. While cost savings are expected, this is not primarily a budget reduction exercise.

Important to note is that some departments have funding sources other than or in addition to the unrestricted budget allotment noted on the functional org chart. For example, both human resources and risk services use staff benefit funds to offset operating expenses. The UA Foundation is almost entirely self-funded from fees. Therefore FTE (full time equivalency) or staffing level comparisons in relation to percentage of budget allocation do not provide an accurate comparison.

The Statewide Administration Assembly has been asked to provide input on the functional org chart and the categorization of activities. The functional org chart is not intended to show all activities a department does. Please review each departments submission for additional information. Because each member’s understanding of statewide functions is limited to their own experience, it is important that all staff have an opportunity to weigh in, particularly on those details best known by those on the front line doing a particular task. There is also an SAA feedback form for submitting specific recommendations on process improvements, examples of collaborations and potential areas to reduce work.

Statewide staff are invited to review the functional org chart in light of the mission goals and potential for change and submit their feedback to the Transformation Team. All feedback should be submitted before the end of July. The Transformation Team will be sharing their initial findings with the Summit Team August 4 with a final report anticipated in the September-October timeframe.

Last week, the president’s direct reports were provided with a set of questions and a request for information that will help the Transformation Team answer the broader question “What is the essential role for UA Statewide (SW) administration?” This is the first step in better understanding how SW is currently working to fulfill four core areas of responsibility the team agreed require system-level involvement. Those four areas were defined as:

  1. External Relationships – those where there is a need for the University to present itself as a single institution
  2. Compliance – legal interpretation and enterprise-level risk assessment
  3. Stewards of Shared Resources – assets such as non-educational lands, the UA network, and foundation/endowment
  4. Leadership, Governance and Strategic Vision – establishing system-level strategic direction, fostering collaboration in achieving the UA mission for the people of Alaska, arbitrating conflicting objectives

Provided below are links to the questions and templates for the other information we are requesting. Some of you may be asked by your VP or director to help with the response. The deadline for this information to be completed is May 20.

While it is important for the team to better understand the core functions of various departments, we also recognize the need to look at processes and relationships, both within SW and between SW and the three Universities. We will be engaging SW staff governance in helping to circulate a series of questions that will help us identify opportunities for clarity and improvement. We are still finalizing those questions, but they might include:

  • Are there obstacles you see to doing your job as effectively and efficiently as you would like? What would it take to remove the obstacle(s)?
  • Can you provide examples of highly-effective system collaboration in executing your responsibilities? Please provide as much detail as possible about why things are working well.
  • Are processes and accountability for conducting work clear, both within your area of responsibility, as well as when you are interacting with other SW departments or departments at the Universities? If no, please provide examples and recommendations for improvement.
  • Is there clarity around authority for decision-making? Please provide examples of where things are clear and areas where improvement would help.

Thank you for your interest and support. I know there is a high level of interest in this project and a genuine desire to be of help. I appreciate your input and ideas, as do the other team members.

Michelle Rizk
Chief Strategy, Planning and Budget Officer

Direct Report Questions
Functional Description Template
Functional Org Chart Example PDF

In late March, President Gamble charged Michelle Rizk with assembling a team to review SW programs and services. This is an update on the team, its activities to date, and what you can expect going forward.

First, the team – we have intentionally kept the core group small so we can get this effort off the ground quickly. At the same time, I recognize how important it will be to engage the skills, knowledge and commitment of all staff if this effort is to be successful. In assembling this team, we brought in representatives from the three universities that, along with SW, comprise our system, and we identified attributes and experience that would be helpful to the process (e.g. strategic thinking, knowledge of organizational planning and process change, experience in collaboration, familiarity with both system and campus level work). Following are the team members:

  • Bruce Schultz, UAA Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs
  • Rashmi Prasad, UAA Dean College of Business and Public Policy
  • Nettie La Belle-Hamer, UAF Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Director Alaska Satellite Facility
  • Julie Queen, Director, UAF Office of Management and Budget
  • Michael Ciri, UAS Vice-Chancellor Administrative Services
  • Maren Haavig, UAS Assistant Professor of Accounting, Senate Faculty President Elect
  • Carla Beam, UA Vice President University Relations, President UA Foundation
  • Michelle Rizk, UA Chief Strategy, Planning and Budget Officer

We have met twice, focusing our initial discussion on defining, “What is the essential role for UA SW administration?” Starting from a blank page, we developed a working draft that will now be reviewed against past reports and recommendations to see if we are missing anything.

As we begin reviewing services and functions, we will also share the role definitions with the president, chancellors and possibly the Board of Regents as to the essential role SW should fulfill.  

We have a general timeline to deliver initial recommendations to leadership in August or September with final recommendations available by October or November. This timeline is designed to facilitate FY17 implementation of agreed on recommendations. As mentioned previously, while this is not primarily a budget exercise, it will help to inform some decisions that can be made to support FY16 reductions.

At the Transformation Team’s next meeting, we will begin to line out the process for this review which should give us a bit more information to share on when and how we will engage your input. I appreciate your patience in letting us work through these early steps so that we can engage you in a meaningful way.

Working Team Members Invited to Join Transformation Process

Click HERE to see the SW and campus employees invited to the six working groups.

Addendum to Initial Report

Download the addendum to the initial report HERE.
Distributed Nov. 30, 2015

Preliminary Statewide Transformation Report

Download a copy of the preliminary Transformation Team recommendations HERE.
Distributed 9/29/15

SW Transformation Process Outline

Selected Key dates:

September 25, 2015  
Preliminary report delivered to President Johnsen

September 29, 2015  
President Johnsen distribute report to all Statewide employees

September 29-October 20, 2015 
Input on report received through employee website.
Engage consultant for implementation plan development

October 30, 2015
Transformation Team deliver revised recommendations to President Johnsen, Summit Team and Vice-Chancellors of Administration

November 3, 2015
Summit Team meeting to advise President on Transformation Team recommendations

November 24, 2015
Invitation sent to SW and campus employees inviting participation on working teams.

December 3
Administration, Enterprise IT and Human Resources working teams to meet

December 4
Finance, Academic Affairs and Research, University Relations & Foundation teams to meet

January 2016
Working teams to meet

February 2016
Working teams to meet

March 1, 2016
Working team recommendations due to President Johnsen

March 29, 2016
Johnsen will review the recommendations with the Summit Team

April 14, 2016
Decisions made, implementation tasks and timelines will be assigned

July 1, 2016
Implementation complete for most recommendations

Transformation Team Members

Bruce Schultz, UAA Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs
Rashmi Prasad, UAA Dean College of Business and Public Policy
Nettie La Belle-Hamer, UAF Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Director Alaska Satellite Facility
Julie Queen, Director, UAF Office of Management and Budget
Michael Ciri, UAS Vice-Chancellor Administrative Services
Maren Haavig, UAS Assistant Professor of Accounting, Senate Faculty President Elect
Carla Beam, UA Vice President University Relations, President UA Foundation
Michelle Rizk, UA Chief Strategy, Planning and Budget Officer

Supporting Documentation
These reports were used to formulate the functional org chart.
Strategy, Planning and Budget
President's Office
Board of Regents Office
Academic Affairs
University Relations and Foundation
General Counsel and Risk