Faculty objects to aspects of Fisher Report

Faculty is strongly objecting to the Fisher Report’s suggestion that UAF should be the only research institute in the UA system.

James L. Fisher was one of five higher education professionals that reviewed the UA system during September of last year. Fisher was the one to write up all of their recommendations on how UA can improve.

The President of the UA system, Patrick Gamble, released the report for public review on January 6. The objections from Faculty were instant.

The faculty formed a committee to respond to the report at their next meeting Feb 4. The resultant 55-page report was sent to President Gamble on June 10.

President of the UAA Faculty Senate, Nalinaksha Bhattacharyya, highlighted major fallacies in the Fisher Report.

“The moral of the story is that we need to start standing up to Fairbanks,” Bhattacharyya said during a University Assembly meeting September 9.

Bhattacharyya and the rest of the Senate believed that Fisher’s bid for UAF was in direct conflict with the UA mission.

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“We particularly resent the constant refrain about how UAF must be the doctoral institution and how there must not be duplication. We consider these to be false arguments,” The letter stated.

One issue addressed in the Report was what Fisher called, “The UAF/UAA Question”.

The question is which campus should receive the funding and authorization to be the sole research institute in the state.

Fisher’s research indicates Alaska would be hard-pressed to materialize enough funds to support two major doctoral research institutes and the number of doctoral students (only 333 in 2009) enrolled in programs at UAF doesn’t seem to be enough to spread across two different campuses.

Fisher’s suggestion to rid the UA system of the “ten ton gorilla” competition between the two campuses would be to leave the research equipment, funding, and resources right where it remains today – Fairbanks.

Rather than following the Report blindly, the senate believes that any decision made regarding the two institutions should be based upon industry needs and constituency demands.

The Fisher Report suggested curtailing UAA’s continued development in the interest of “efficient usage of resource”, but the Faculty Senate instead prefers to view UAA and UAF at two campuses united under a single University of Alaska system, which is a resource all by itself.

They suggested that research competition should be between a unified UA campus and other national universities, not between UAA and UAF. And with such a widespread and dynamic state, two different research facilities could better serve the constituents of the institutes.

The Senate believes that all schools can agree on one thing in the Fisher Report: the decentralization of UA administration, and the empowering of local campuses to better serve their students and faculty.