UA reverses financial exigency and plans one accreditation

Gov. Mike Dunleavy officially signed for $110 million to be restored to the UA budget on Aug. 19.

Graphic by Michaeline Collins.

“I’m happy to report that, as of Monday [Aug. 19], the University of Alaska system budget is finalized,” Chancellor Cathy Sandeen said in her “Just the Facts” video on Aug. 21.

Earlier that month, on Aug. 8, Gov. Dunleavy signed the fiscal year 2020 capital budget.

“[This] captures nearly $1 billion in federal transportation and infrastructure funding, provides necessary resources to enact public safety legislation and reinstates funding for various programs such as the Alaska Performance Scholarship, WWAMI and Power Cost Equalization,” Dunleavy said in a press release.

The Board of Regents voted unanimously to retract their declaration of financial exigency on Aug. 20. This extends the required notice for layoffs and canceling programs.

Other initial reactions to the $136 million cut in June were reversed. UA President Jim Johnsen is no longer imposing furloughs and hiring, purchasing and traveling freezes, Chancellor Sandeen said in her video.

While many cost-cutting decisions have been retracted, UA tuition has been raised by 5% for the 2019-2020 academic year to increase income.

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“That’s already showing up in the tuition that you are paying,” Sandeen said. “There will be no additional tuition increase this year.”

UA officials are still planning for a potential one university structure, or “One UA/New UA.”

“That is still the plan. [The Board of Regents] haven’t approved it, but we are going forward with that plan,” Sandeen said.

That would mean that UAF, UAA and UAS would all be under one accreditation through Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, possibly UAF’s. In this case, all UA students would have to apply and meet  UAF’s admission requirements, according to the leaflet handed out at the town hall meeting on Aug. 29, FN: Town Hall Handouts v.3 082619.

An alternative to the One UA plan is the “Consortium model” proposed by UA chancellors, where UAA, UAF and UAS would have separate accreditations and fund reductions.

“This model accounts for the unique emphasis of academic programs and services tailored for the students, communities and employers served,” according to the town hall handout.

The One UA plan will be shared in the Board of Regents’ meeting on Sept. 12-13. The Board of Regents will go over system-wide review plans to approve a direction in November, Johnsen said in a video.

Chancellor Sandeen released the fiscal year 2020 budget draft in an email on Aug. 30. She announced upcoming and previously implemented changes.

“The UA system continues restructuring plans and implementation, including a number of administrative consolidations in areas like HR, procurement, IT, development and advancement,” Sandeen said in the email. “Processes and procedures for accessing services may change under the new structure.”

More planning updates will be posted on the New UA website. Save the Seawolf.com also provides documents, reports, news, advocacy materials and contacts.

The UA community can participate in the process of restructuring UA by filling out a survey, emailing [email protected] and attending public meetings.

An audio-conference call-in for public testimony will occur on Sept. 9 from 4-6 p.m. at (866) 726-0757.

Written testimonies may be sent to [email protected]. In-person public testimonies are welcome starting at 8:15 a.m. before the Sept. 12 Board of Regent meeting. More information can be found on the Board of Regents’ agenda page.

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