Budget update: Aug. 14

August 14, 2019

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

Yesterday we received good news regarding UA’s FY20 operating budget. The governor approved the Legislature’s supplemental appropriation to this year’s budget, resulting in a net $25 million reduction for FY20.

The compact that was agreed to by Gov. Dunleavy and Regent Chair Davies includes a multiyear step-down funding approach that would provide the university with a glide path to reducing a total of $70 million from our state appropriation over the next three fiscal years. The governor released a Budget and Related Matters Agreement that outlines a $25 million reduction in FY20, $25 million in FY21 and $20 million in FY22, bringing the University of Alaska’s overall state appropriation from $327 million in FY19 to $257 million by FY22.

The next step is for the president to propose a spending plan to the Board of Regents for its approval. This vote is likely to occur at the September board meeting (Sept. 12-13 in Anchorage). Also at the September board meeting, the president will present a proposal for the reorganization of UA to a single accreditation.

In preparation for that plan, teams are being formed by the UA Statewide vice presidents to look at efforts to consolidate services and programs within the UA system. Paul Layer, vice president of academics, students and research at the UA system office, has been reaching out to individuals on all UA campuses and building steering committees focused on accreditation, research and academic programs, including:

  • Science, arts and humanities (including fisheries and ocean sciences)

  • Education 

  • Engineering

  • Health 

  • Management and business

  • Career and technical education

  • Research 

In addition to the steering committees for research and academic programs, teams are being formed across campuses to consider consolidation of administrative functions. Myron Dosch, UA chief finance officer/controller, has been consulting with vice chancellors for administrative services to design a consolidated structure for finance and administration.

Michelle Rizk, vice president of university relations and chief strategy, planning and budget officer, has been consulting with campus directors of development, university relations and alumni relations on a consolidated structure for those functions.

Saichi Oba, associate vice president of student and enrollment strategy, has been working on a consolidated model for student affairs and enrollment in consultation with campus vice chancellors for student affairs. 

Also along the lines of preparation for a one university plan, Vice Chancellor Evon Peter hosted a work group in Anchorage yesterday to discuss structural options for sustaining the Alaska Native-serving mission of UA. The work group is composed of a small, diverse group of faculty, staff, administrators, students and external stakeholders from across UA. 

On a related note, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities recently approved a one-year extension on UAF’s planned accreditation site visit, postponing the site visit until fall 2020. The extension was requested to allow the university to take a deeper look at a one accreditation model and what it might look like for the entire UA system.

In a recent meeting with NWCCU, they described what moving to one accreditation would require. To accomplish such a model for the UA system, two of the three accredited universities would undergo institutional “closure,” leaving one campus as the accredited institution that would incorporate the programs of the closed universities. At this time, we do not know exactly how this would play out or which two universities would be “closed.” It is important to note that “closure” is just a term of art, and does not suggest that the programs, facilities, staff or faculty at that institution are going away.  

Next week is my favorite time of the year with new-student orientation and the beginning of a new life for thousands of students across our campus. We will have more than 1,000 brand-new students embarking on their journey this fall. Please take this time to enjoy the moment and celebrate the choice these students (and all of our returning students) have made. Thank you for choosing UAF.

Lastly, congratulations to Peter Webley, who was named this week to the National Academy of Inventors. Way to go, Peter!