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No UA Mergers Yet


University of Alaska regents have put the brakes on a plan to merge University of Alaska Southeast programs in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka into either the UA Anchorage or Fairbanks operations. The cost saving proposal has drawn major criticism since being introduced by UA President Jim Johnsen last week. More discussion will be today.

UA spokesperson Robbie Graham says during a meeting yesterday (Thursday), Regents voted to delay action, in favor of a motion by regent Dale Anderson of Juneau to instead conduct an in-depth analysis of merging UAS and University of Alaska Fairbanks programs, while “maintaining the unique identity and environment of each institution.”

"It includes everything from looking at the true cost savings from merger, to the regional impacts -- how it might impact the economy of Southeast Alaska, certainly it would impact the students. They'll be looking at the proposals that came in from others, most notably the SeaAlaska Heritage Tribal College."

Graham says the review, which will take place over the next 4 to 6 months, will involve input from a wide range of on and off campus stakeholders.

Regents also approved a budget for the upcoming new fiscal year, a spending plan which includes staff

-- how it might impact the economy of Southeast Alaska, certainly it would impact the students.

layoffs, and executive furloughs, suspends pay increases, and eliminates 50 academic programs. Graham says the 832-million-dollar budget is 25 million dollars less than  the current year, the same amount state funding is being reduced, under a compact between regents and Governor Mike Dunleavy. The budget also includes 24 million dollars in Covid 19 related costs, a hit Graham says is being covered with a draw from savings.

"By policy, the Regents keep that account between 2 and 6 percent of the overall university budget."

Graham says regents spent two hours of Thursday’s meeting in executive session to talk about the possible departure of President Johnsen, who is the sole finalist to become president of the University of Wisconsin.

"And when they came out, they talked a bit about how to address a succession plan. They'll come togethr twice in June, on the 10th and on the 16th, to talk about an interim, if that is needed."

Regents meet again today (Friday), and Graham says one of the agenda items is the 50 academic programs slated for elimination. She says regents will be going over motions made by the academic and student affairs committee and could rescind some of the deletions.