Spring returns to the interior. Photo by Monique Musick

System News April 2017

  • Strategic Pathways Phase III options presented
  • Regents prepare for potential budget cuts, pass resolution in support of the Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Education Grant
  • UAF Chancellor search update
  • Johnsen announces retirement of UAA Chancellor Tom Case
  • University budget update
  • The Capitol Report: April 18, 2017
  • First report of Voluntary Resolution Agreement due May 1

Strategic Pathways Phase III options presented

Strategic Pathways Phase 3 review teams met with the Summit Team April 11 to present more than 36 options in seven key academic and administrative areas for further discussion and consideration. All options are available online for review at www.alaska.edu/pathways/phase-3.

In this final phase of Strategic Pathways, the seven academic and administrative areas were reviewed by 66 faculty, staff, students, and community members serving on the teams.

Everyone – especially affected departments / units, students, faculty –  are encouraged to read through the reports and leave comments about the options using the Google form for each review area.

President Johnsen will be meeting with affected units and holding public forums at each university to discuss these options. These opportunities for additional input by faculty and students will be announced when finalized.

Regents prepare for potential budget cuts, pass resolution in support of the Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Education Grant

During a special meeting April 13 the University of Alaska Board of Regents heard an assessment from UA President Jim Johnsen and chancellors on contingency plans should the university receive budget cuts from the Alaska Legislature.

Currently, the House has passed an operating budget that would fund the university at $325 million – the same amount as requested by the governor. The Senate amount for the university is $22 million less, at $303 million. The Senate amount represents a 20 percent decrease in unrestricted general funds for university operations over the past four years.

“We are at the place now where we can’t take more incremental cuts. There are employees wearing multiple hats, doing so at less time per week in order to save the university money. The impacts of these severe budget cuts will become more and more serious,” Johnsen said.  MORE...

UAF Chancellor Search update

Four finalists in the search for a new chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks will visit campus April 20-28. The finalists are Dan White, J. Michael Kuperberg, Tony Haymet and Mirta Martin.

The search committee selected the finalists from a pool of 24 applicants after a national search.

During their Fairbanks visits, the finalists will each meet with UA President Jim Johnsen, UAF Interim Chancellor Dana Thomas, cabinet members, academic deans, research directors and community campus directors. Each finalist will also hold forums for faculty, staff, students and the community.

All forums will be webcast live at https://media.uaf.edu. To submit a question during the live stream, please email your question to klfisher@alaska.edu. Links to the forum recordings will be posted on Friday, April 28 after the final forum concludes.

Feedback on the finalists will be collected via online survey. Feedback form will open on Thursday at noon and remain open through 5pm on Wednesday, May 3.

Read about the finalists HERE.

Johnsen announces retirement of UAA Chancellor Tom Case

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen announced April 12 that University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Tom Case plans to retire effective June 30, 2017. Case has served as UAA chancellor for six years, and previously served as dean of UAA’s College of Business and Public Policy for six years. Chancellor Case has led UAA with great integrity and distinction, Johnsen said.

“Tom has served the university with integrity, good humor and dedication,” Johnsen said. “I have long admired his commitment to student success, campus safety, and the opportunities he created to advocate for faculty and students. I will miss his steady hand and great diplomacy.”

Case enjoyed many accomplishments during his 12 years at UAA, including:

  • Establishing a Doctorate in Nursing Practice program
  • Establishing a joint Pharmacology Doctorate program with Idaho State University, keeping students in state for their entire education
  • Opening the Alaska Airlines Center, the Engineering and Industry Building, Health Sciences Building, Glenn Massay Theatre at the Mat-Su Campus, the residential halls on the Kenai Peninsula Campus and completing and dedicating the bridge across Providence Drive, the Parrish Bridge (for Al and Ann Parrish)
  • Appointing Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith as first Rasmuson Chair in Experimental Economics

“There’s no doubt that Tom has changed the lives of many for the better,” Johnsen said. MORE....

University budget update

Conference Committee postcard campaign

Our current budget situation in the Alaska Legislature is bleak. The House has passed a budget funding the university’s general fund appropriation (UGF) at the governor’s requested $325 million – that’s the same as we received for the current fiscal year. The Senate, meanwhile, has passed a budget funding our UGF appropriation at $303 million – a $22 million cut from this year. The impact of this cut is compounded by the lack of capital funding to maintain our 400 facilities and unfunded fixed cost increases.

Since the two houses have many differences in each of their bills, a conference committee made up of legislators from each house will be created to work out those differences and decide on the final budget numbers. It’s our hope that the conference committee will fund the university at $325 million UGF. If the Senate’s number passes, the university will have taken a $75 million, or 19.8 percent, reduction over the past four years. The Senate’s cut would be devastating to the university.

What can you do? A postcard has been designed to provide an opportunity to choose from a variety of reasons why you support funding the university’s budget at the House number. More than 20 variations of the postcard are available to empower students, alumni, business owners, community members and Alaskans of every kind to express why you support the University of Alaska.

The postcards can be downloaded at http://www.alaska.edu/state/postcard and then e-mailed to your legislator to urge support of the House version of the university’s FY18 budget. Share your e-cards on social media using the hashtags #supportUA and #AKleg to raise awareness of this crucial decision affecting the University of Alaska.

When contacting legislators regarding issues such as the budget you should avoid using university email or other resources, and if you are a UA employee, you should do so on your own time, such as lunch time or after work. The university's budget is not a partisan political issue or a ballot measure -- those issues are subject to very strict prohibitions or restrictions on use of state resources. However, your advocacy will have the greatest effect if it does not raise use of resource issues.

Capitol Report April 18

By Miles Baker
Associate Vice President Government Relations

Easter Sunday marked the 90th day of the session and the statutory deadline by which the legislature is supposed to conclude its business. It’s been clear for weeks that they weren’t going to hit that goal, and we've officially entered overtime.

The Alaska Constitution established the length of the regular session as “one hundred twenty days from the date it convenes.” That clock began ticking on January 17th when the legislature gaveled in. The 120th day takes us to May 17th, at which point the legislature has to take formal action to extend further into a special session. Several years ago, a public initiative established a 90-day legislative limit in statute, but legislators have found it difficult to finish in that amount of time and aren’t legally bound to do so given the greater constitutional limit.

So will the next 30 days be different than the first 90? Let’s hope so. One big difference is that most of the major pieces of policy legislation have been passed from one body to the other, so from a procedural perspective, both are technically in a position to begin the process of negotiating on the differences in legislation. The Senate has announced that it will be shutting down all committees except for Resources and Finance in order to focus on budget and revenue bills.  MORE...

First report of the Voluntary Resolution Agreement due May 1

When the university entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement (VRA) with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) over handling of cases of sexual harassment and assault and preventative efforts by our universities, a plan for the nine action items with a May 1 deadline was established, as well as planning for the future deadlines out to December 2019.

The first reporting deadline May 1 covers a variety of areas including the appointment of a systemwide Senior Title IX administrator, a new draft notice of non-discrimination, draft policy and regulation changes, Title IX training, dissemination of information regarding sex discrimination, a plan for climate checks, coordination with local law enforcement, new procedures for placement of students with other entities, and documentation of redress for 23 cases identified by OCR.  MORE...

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