A senior administrator at University of Alaska-Fairbanks is voicing guarded optimism about UAF’s budget.
Vice Chancellor Pat Pitney spoke to other university officials yesterday (Wednesday) at an on campus forum. Pitney says she hopes state officials will go easier on UAF in fiscal year 2016, after funding cuts last spring, resulted in a $14 million dollar shortfall.
“There was a recognition that there was a significant cut this year by the Legislature. And that the hard choices have to be made, and we’re making those hard choices. And (that) the next set of hard choices wouldn’t be good,” she said.
Pitney says cuts made in recent months eliminated nearly 50 positions, half through attrition, the rest in layoffs. She says the university will make the case that it’s most important functions must be protected from severe budget cuts, especially Arctic research.
“The Arctic Agenda is a huge priority,” she said. “Unmanned aerial vehicles are a huge priority. Starting a program in chemical engineering – huge priority. Energy – always a priority.”
Pitney says the university will also work in the coming year to fully fund a new veterinary medicine degree program being pursued in partnership with Colorado State University.
“Our first cohort for veterinary medicine starts next fall,” she said.
Pitney says UAF programs that may get additional review for possible cuts include the experimental farm and distance learning programs.