Budget update: Dec. 2, 2020

December 2, 2020

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

The 2020 calendar year is nearing an end, putting us nearly halfway through the FY21 fiscal year and well into FY22 budget planning. FY22 brings the final year of Gov. Dunleavy’s three-year budget compact agreement with the UA Board of Regents (BoR). In meeting reductions over the last two years, we have reduced our base budget while also using some savings from one-time reductions to bridge the gap, particularly in FY20 when the budget was not known until nearly halfway through the fiscal year. Some one-time moves have helped, and these include facility sales that generated some one-time revenue, while also reducing deferred maintenance costs for years to come. 

I continue my commitment to preserving people and programs while we focus on reducing our footprint and reducing facilities costs. I also remain committed to our strategic goals and to growing enrollment and research. Doubling down on enrollment and research growth is a positive path that will alleviate the need for some cuts at the same time that we fulfill our mission and achieve our goals. Because of years of dedicated work on the strategic enrollment plan and the entrepreneurial work of the institutes, we are well-positioned to achieve growth in both areas.

As we continue to grow revenue and gain efficiencies, we remain focused on ways to reduce costs. I asked the provost and vice chancellors to nominate faculty and staff for a Budget Options Task Force. The task force will be charged with identifying large and small budget reductions (e.g., vertical cuts) and revenue sources to make recommendations for consideration this spring by me, the core leadership team, Chancellor’s Cabinet, and the Planning and Budget Committee. Since all of the governance groups are part of Chancellor’s Cabinet, this will be an important way that governance can be involved in decision-making. It is also a way that a team of faculty and staff can provide input early on to the thinking around vertical reductions. I will charge the small task force with using UAF’s mission and strategic planning documents, strategic enrollment planning, and accreditation goals and measures to guide their thinking. Based on the nominations I received from your leadership, I will be sending out official invitations this week to prospective members. The task force is expected to begin their work in the coming weeks, with recommendations due by early spring 2021.

All administrators, faculty and staff are currently working through FY21 budget reductions and are planning for FY22. Units are putting measures in place. It is important to note that the Budget Options Task Force’s work will not substitute for these plans nor will it produce a silver bullet that will alleviate the need to follow through with current budget plans. It is, however, important that we have additional ways for faculty and staff to provide input to budget reductions and revenues at the highest level. It is my hope that the task force can help provide this critical input.

On a separate note, the UAF Child Care and Early Childhood Development Services Task Force began its work Nov. 20. The committee consists of 11 members and has been charged with reviewing the current Bunnell House lab school business model, child care and early childhood development needs on campus, solutions beyond Bunnell House, and review of public private partnership (P3) options to include drafting a P3 request for proposals (RFP). 

The committee is anticipated to finish their work by January 15, 2021.  

Child Care and Early Childhood Development Services Task Force members:

  • Jackie Morton, Department of Military and Veteran Services (co-chair)

  • Anna Gagne-Hawes, Admissions (co-chair)

  • Derek Miller, College of Engineering and Mines

  • John George, Community and Technical College

  • Laura Conner, Geophysical Institute 

  • Mark Oldmixon, Nanook Recreation

  • Maria Stejskal, Center for Alaska Native Health Research 

  • Pammy Fowler, Early Childhood Education

  • Patty Meritt, Early Childhood Education

  • Claudine Hauri, International Arctic Research Center

  • Kara Axx, Facilities Services

I look forward to the continued work of our faculty and staff task forces, including the strategic planning groups. Later this week I will be meeting with the leads of the strategic planning teams, who have all completed their reports on how to measure and fulfill our strategic goals. I look forward to bringing this latest achievement to the university in an all-campus forum just before or after winter break.

Thank you for choosing UAF.