Budget update: Aug. 7

August 7, 2019

Tori Tragis

UAF photo by JR Ancheta.
UAF photo by JR Ancheta.

— by Anupma Prakash, provost and executive vice chancellor

When it rains, it is Fair Weather! That certainly was true this year, though it did not stop the steady stream of people stopping at the UAF Alumni Association hamburger booth yesterday at the Tanana Valley State Fair. A high-five from a 3-year-old, who excitedly showed off her Nanook Nation shirt, and stories from a 50s alum just made my day. The fair goes on till Aug. 11. You still have time to stop at the booth, have a burger bite and contribute to the UAF Alumni Association’s fundraising efforts for student scholarships.

When it rains, it also proverbially pours. The last 10 days have been a flurry of activity. I provided an update on the Board of Regents’ direction passed at the July 30 meeting. On Aug. 5, President Johnsen shared a video message with important budget and transition planning updates. Our efforts are now focused on reducing costs necessitated by the state’s budget cuts and helping the president put together a plan for a new UA — a single university operating under a single accreditation in multiple locations across the state, including the locations UAF currently serves. That plan that will be reviewed and voted on by the regents during the meeting on Sept. 12-13. Our planning efforts include working closely with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the regional accrediting body that provides us our institutional accreditation.

Many things about accreditation are not well understood, so we have a short video to clarify some points. Currently, UAF, UAA and UAS are all separately accredited by the NWCCU, and all three universities are in good standing with the commission. For students, being accredited means that you are eligible to receive federal financial aid and that UAF credits typically transfer to other institutions. Generally, the accreditation process follows a seven-year cycle. In the seventh year, an institute submits a comprehensive self-study report to a review team that also makes a site visit.

In July we submitted UAF’s self-study report to NWCCU. Our site visit was scheduled for Sept. 23-25. Given the discussions and planning activities related to a new UA operating under a single accreditation, we requested, and this week were granted, a one-year extension for our site visit. Students, please continue to enroll in your classes without worrying about institutional accreditation. We are looking forward to welcoming returning students as well as new students during the upcoming student orientation. Soon after that, the Associated Students of UAF leaders will organize an open forum where UAF administrators will provide updates and answer any questions you may have. Responses to some of these questions are already available in an accreditation FAQ (PDF) on the accreditation website and on the scholarship FAQ webpage

Some updates specifically for faculty members: Planning for a new UA will require thoughtful effort from many people across the system, including our faculty. To make time for this planning, the administrators and the faculty union have worked closely and signed a memorandum (PDF) indicating a one-year extension for all faculty reviews, including promotion and tenure reviews. We are also anticipating a delay in the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement and will continue to operate under the existing CBA until a new one is finalized. 

Please continue to reach out to us with your thoughts and queries, and we will keep the communication rolling as work ramps up!