UAF Committee Proposes Up To $14 million In Budget Cuts

May 23, 2014

University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rogers and his eight member cabinet have their work cut out for them to trim the operating budget for next year. They’re looking at 12 to 14 million dollars in reductions expected to eliminate one hundred jobs. Cabinet member, UAF Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, Pat Pitney says the University is responding to a legislatively imposed, UA system wide 5 percent personnel cut, a reduction she says is compounded by other factors.  

Credit University of Alaska Fairbanks
"There's continued pressure to keep the tuition rate down, so you have roughly flat tuition revenue, the federal research environment is very tight, and you have rising personnel costs, rising energy costs. You have kind of a double whammy when you're not just getting cut from the state but you have other revenue constraints as well," Pitney said. 

This week, a committee charged with lining out budget reduction proposals, released a tiered list of options. Among numerous recommendations is cutting the number of high level executives, administrators and managers, extending winter break, consolidating or eliminating low enrollment programs, decreasing shuttle bus service, offering more degree programs on line, and reducing staff travel, and upgrading buildings to improve energy efficiency.   A lower tier of possible budget actions titled “recommended with reservations”, includes elimination of university funding for KUAC public radio and TV.

Pitney says the committee prioritized its recommended cuts, but there’s leeway to decide what to implement, noting there are benefits to targeted cuts. "To the degree that we can pick a particular service or program to eliminate, that reduces the amount of pain every department has to take," she said. 

Pitney says the UAF budget reduction proposals are open to public comment, including at a  Board of Regents meeting, the first week of June.  After that, she says Chancellor Rogers and the cabinet will have to decide which cuts to implement, in time for the University to finalize a budget before July 1st.