Budget update: Feb. 6

February 6, 2019

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

Since last week’s budget update, members of my core cabinet and I have been working to develop strategies to manage budget reductions that will likely be needed in the FY20 budget. Our strategic planning goals, accreditation themes and strategic enrollment planning will guide our decision-making to ensure we shape a university with a strong and vibrant future.

One early approach we are using in budgeting this year is something I refer to as “vertical repositioning.” That is to say, repositioning our university in a changing environment so we are more able to focus on our long-term goals:

  • Modernizing the student experience

  • Solidifying global leadership in Alaska Native and Indigenous studies

  • Achieving Tier 1 research status

  • Transforming our intellectual property and commercialization enterprise

  • Growing our culture of respect, diversity, inclusion and caring

  • Revitalizing key academic programs

I believe that if the budget needs to be reduced, we should try to make decisions at the leadership level that are vertical reductions, rather than passing on horizontal reductions to units that have very little room to maneuver. I think of vertical repositioning as looking at moves that can accommodate some savings while positioning us for the future.

One example of this strategy is to continue to reduce the number of off-campus buildings and leases and move more employees, equipment, and programs into on-campus buildings. Examples of this in Fairbanks might include:

  • Vacating the storage facility off Aurora Drive and moving those employees, materials and functions onto campus for better engagement with the rest of the university community.

  • Working within the existing space in the core campus to create a student engagement center that streamlines operations of multiple units across vice chancellor responsibilities.

  • Move Administrative Services onto campus where they can engage with faculty, staff and students more easily.

  • Discontinue use of on-campus facilities that have outlived their usefulness, and relocate functions into more useable and efficient space.

I wanted to share these with you as early ideas we are exploring. Ongoing conversations are informed by the ideas and recommendations the provost and vice chancellors gain from their units as well as best practices across the country.

As described in the budget planning memo I released last week, we are currently operating under specific budget guidance from the UA system. We will all know more on Feb. 13 once the governor has released his budget, and we will plan accordingly.

I continue to be impressed by everyone’s willingness to think outside the box. I am ever optimistic about UAF, our future, and the important role we play in Alaska and the world.