Budget update: July 8, 2020

July 8, 2020

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

As our university changes through budget reductions and the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to take a minute to talk about celebrating each other, changes taking shape, and gratitude. This is not so much of a budget column as it is a message about budget impacts and the role we play.

The budget compact with the governor, a budget reduction of $70 million systemwide over three years is significant, and its impacts are already wide-reaching. We are doing fewer things now, and there more things we need to let go of. But letting go is not easy, and many of us have had to pick up more responsibilities. That is a double whammy to morale. Fewer friends and colleagues and more work. But when there are reductions, we must stop doing some things, do some more efficiently, or partner internally within UAF or with our colleagues at UAA and UAS to lighten the load. Wherever I can act to reduce barriers to efficiency, let's talk.

The fact remains, though, that budget reductions have shifted the dynamic of our workforce. Some faculty and staff have retired or made career changes, and some have left due to departmental reductions. 

Prior to the ever-changing landscape created by the pandemic, we would often celebrate those who were leaving UAF for this next chapter of their lives in an office gathering. But with remote work, that has created fewer celebrations and less acknowledgment of our colleagues and the work they do. This can be a hard transition for many and can be another hit to campus morale.

As I discussed in a Friday Focus some time ago, the transition is hard for the people leaving and it is hard for the people staying. Recognition is important for both parties. One of the elements of our strategic goal of respect, diversity, inclusion and caring is that last element, caring. We care. We should care, and separation of people hurts, whether it is career change, retirement, layoff or remote work. But don’t stop caring, and more importantly, don’t stop recognizing that life change requires recognition. 

Thank you for what you do. Everyone continues to amaze me in their adaptation and their ability to pivot to the changes taking place. Remember to thank your colleagues, your staff, your supervisor and your students! Without each of you, we couldn’t do what we do here at UAF.  I have a great deal of appreciation and gratitude for each of you. 

Thank you for choosing UAF!