Frequently asked questions
Q: Is this happening because of the budget deficit?
Yes, however, even before the current drop in state revenues, the Board of Regents had expressed concerns about program duplication at UA universities and the difficulties that some students have experienced transferring between UA institutions. The Strategic Pathways process could address some of those issues.
Q: What UAF programs fall under the proposed science and engineering focus area?
All of the programs within CNSM, SFOS, and CEM; natural resource management; and social science programs, especially those essential to UAF's mission as a leading research university. This focus encompasses all of the research institutes as well.
Q: Will programs that don’t fall under “science and engineering” be going away?
In many cases not, but those decisions have not been made. The Regents have stated that they expect programs in the arts and humanities, Alaska Native studies and also in vocational/technical areas to continue to be offered throughout UA. Right now, it appears that we will continue to make decisions about whether to retain those programs based on criteria such as enrollment, number of graduates and employer demand. It’s also possible that some programs outside the “science and engineering” focus area will be offered at UAF in the future, but under the leadership of either UAA or UAS, similar to how the UAA nursing program is currently offered in Fairbanks.
Q: Will UAF lose programs as a result of this?
Probably. But UAF administration is advocating that UAF keep the programs that enroll large numbers of undergraduate students, because of evidence that many of our regional students are unlikely to relocate to Anchorage if they cannot get the program they want in Fairbanks.
Q: Will UAF gain programs as a result of this?
Perhaps over time, UAF could gain programs within the established focus areas. However, current budget challenges mean that there can be few new programs added in the near term, in any area.
Q: Could these changes affect our accreditation?
UAF is working to ensure that institutional accreditation will be maintained. In some cases, specialized accreditation might only be held by the lead university.
Q: If two UA universities have the same program—such as business, geology or fisheries—will those programs be expected to merge?
Mergers are one of the options being considered, but President Johnsen has stated that no decisions have been made. The concept of Strategic Pathways was first introduced on Feb. 8 and it still needs a considerable amount of analysis and input before it could be implemented.
Q: If programs merge, will that mean that students will have to move to that community to get those degrees or will the degree programs still be offered at multiple campuses?
While no decisions have been made regarding mergers, if they were to occur, they could take a variety of forms, depending on the type of program and the number of students at a particular location. Larger programs might continue to exist at one or more campuses, but could have a specific or regional focus. Some programs could be offered via distance at some locations. Some programs could be offered at only one campus.
Q: Will student services be affected by the Strategic Pathways plan?
Thus far, Strategic Pathways discussions have not addressed student services at each of the universities.
Q: Engineering seems to be the exception to the conceptual framework. Is UAF losing its engineering program to UAA? Will UAA lose its engineering program to UAF?
Strategic Pathways is still at the concept stage, and there isn’t yet a decision on UA engineering programs. Because engineering is a high-enrollment, high-demand field, it is conceivable that two programs may be required to meet the state’s demand for engineers.
Q: Is School of Management/School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences/School of Education moving to UAA/UAS?
There has been no decision on any of these programs and President Johnsen has committed to gathering input from across UA about the Strategic Pathways process. In some cases, it may be that programs at two or more universities is necessary to meet state demands. In others, it may be that undergraduate programs are offered at multiple campuses but graduate degrees are only offered at one. In all cases, considerable analysis is needed prior to making a decision and any change would likely take multiple years to implement.
Q: How will the restructuring result in significant cost savings?
No specific analysis of net cost savings has been completed. At this time there are too many unknowns for an accurate estimate. However, since most university expenditures for instruction are in the category of salary and benefits, any cost savings must arise from having fewer faculty and academic support staff. In addition, President Johnsen has said that efficiencies in administrative functions could result in saving and that stronger individual academic programs could also attract more students and thus bring in more tuition revenue.
Q: What role do you see for the social sciences at UAF in the future? Will UAF still have social science and arts as majors.
There is no decision on this question yet. The initial Strategic Pathways plan indicated that all campuses could continue to offer courses in the liberal arts and humanities. It’s still unclear which majors would be available at which universities.
Q: Is UA planning to eliminate NCAA sports to save money?
While some have suggested this as an option, no decision has been made. Athletics is a highly community-supported activity that generates considerable community support and interest and, at the same time, not central to the university’s academic mission.
Q: What does “lead campus” mean in practice?
That decision hasn’t been finalized yet. In practice, it could mean a variety of things, depending on the program. It could mean that a program would only be offered at one campus. It could mean that a program would be led by one campus but that classes would be offered in person at other campuses. It could mean that in-person classes would only take place at the lead campus, but that classes would be offered via distance at other campuses.
Q: How much influence does UAF leadership have on this process via the Summit Team?
The chancellor, provost and vice chancellor for administrative services are all members of President Johnsen’s Summit Team, along with their colleagues from UAA and UAS. The Summit Team meets regularly and UAF has actively participated in discussions and has provided extensive, constructive written feedback. Those efforts have influenced the process. UAF leaders will continue to advocate for a plan that meets the needs of its students and Interior Alaska.
Q: What process will be used to decide what programs are eliminated and which aren’t? What process will be used to determine which university is lead for a given program?
That process is still being developed and will be shared with the campus communities and public, once available.
Q: Will administrative offices, like HR, advancement or travel, be merging with other UA campuses or with UA statewide?
President Johnsen has said that he plans to streamline administrative functions, however there hasn’t been a decision on what that will look like. In the coming months, that will likely become more clear.
Q: If my major is eliminated, will I have to choose a new one?
No. UAF’s accrediting organization requires us to “teach out” discontinued programs. That means students who are already enrolled in those majors must be allowed to complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.
Q: What happens if the Board of Regents decides my major will no longer reside at UAF? Will I have to move to complete my degree program?
No. Similar to the requirements when a program is eliminated, we would teach out programs that are transferred to other UA campuses. Some students may need to take courses via distance, but nearly all programs will continue to be available face to face for one to two years.
Q: I am currently undeclared, but am planning to declare a major soon. If the major I want is eliminated before I declare it, will I be able to complete that degree?
While UAF will be required to “teach out” programs slated for elimination or for being moved to another campus, that option is only available for students who have declared those majors at the time the board makes those decisions. Students will not be allowed to declare that major after those decisions are made.
Q: Will UAF lose jobs because of these changes?
Right now, we don’t have enough information to say how Strategic Pathways will affect jobs at UAF. However, UAF will lose jobs due to state funding reductions.
Q: How many jobs could UAF lose?
That will depend on our state funding, and we won’t know that until the budget is finalized by the Legislature later this spring. Most of UAF’s costs are salary and benefits: A $1 million decrease in state funding translates to about 10 positions.