Late last week the 11-member University of Alaska Board of Regents met in Kodiak to work through a lengthy agenda, and two of the motions passed are sure to make waves at all three universities in the UA system.
One motion calls for a common academic calendar for all university campuses, including common daily schedules, course blocks, and start and end dates.
Spring break would also be shared across the three universities, meaning that the universalized University of Alaska breaks could conflict with the regional schedules of K-12 schools, creating problems for college students, faculty and staff with children in these schools.
The reasoning behind the motion relates to scheduling issues for students who take courses at multiple universities.
“This is actually the motivation stated when we asked statewide about this, is students taking courses at other universities being inconvenienced,” UAA Faculty Senate President Mark Fitch said last Friday.
The other motion would create a common core of General Education Requirements between the three universities, including common course numbers, titles and placement test scoring, apparently in an effort to alleviate issues with transferring between schools.
“The summary is the regents just declared that we no longer have a GER program, we have to redo one that is joint by UAF, UAA and UAS. We may not have independent GER programs by declaration of regents. They passed that as we were starting our meeting today.” Fitch said.
Last Friday, UAA Faculty Senate members expressed many concerns about the motions, including the cost of implementation and the lack of faculty input in the process.
“It really does seem to be that the regents favor complete assimilation,” said Faculty Senate member Orson Smith.
Fitch responded, “It is true that part of what happened is the regents not too long ago in private conversation, not in formal meeting, were very close to dissolving the three universities, and creating one, going back to UA. The chancellors and provosts immediately came in and put that fire out.”
Fitch believes the Board of Regents may not even have the authority to implement the changes in the second motion. UAA Faculty Senate will officially respond to both motions in May.
It remains to be seen how the other universities will respond and whether the motions have any chance of actually being implemented.