Statement by the Chair:
On July 15th, the Faculty Senate of the University of Alaska Anchorage adopted a report from the Committee on Governance and Funding Reform. The committee unanimously approved the report on July 11th. The report’s recommendations include a proposal to protect the education of as many students as possible after a projected $135M cut in state appropriations for the University of Alaska system. Our “students first” approach is in alignment with the university system’s mission. The report is addressed to the Board of Regents.
UA President Johnsen’s call for a system-wide declaration of financial exigency and proposed options to address the cut prompted our committee to release the report. Those options include the massive consolidation and elimination of academic programs as well as the entire elimination of the University of Alaska Fairbanks or both the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Southeast. The Faculty Senate report offers a way to avoid declarations of financial exigency at UAA, UAS, and the community campuses in the UA system, thus ensuring that 70-80% of students in the UA system are able to continue their educations without disruption. The primary way this is proposed to be accomplished is by eliminating UA Statewide with its associated costs and by granting each university the authority to determine where to allocate remaining cuts. The report also recommends that state funding should be allocated proportionally according to the number of full-time equivalent students at UAF Fairbanks, UAA Anchorage, and UAS and the UA community campuses. The report acknowledges that this plan does not prevent UAF Fairbanks from being vulnerable to financial exigency and subject to cuts, cuts similar in scope to those proposed by President Johnsen.
The report speaks for itself and so do these difficult times for our university system. We wish nobody ill and hope that that all of our university communities can survive these times as intact as possible.
For the longer term, we remain convinced that all of our universities will be stronger if the system is reformed in the direction of decentralization, granting the universities greater freedom to govern and administer themselves, control their costs and pursue new revenues.