Budget update: March 13

March 13, 2019

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

Over the course of the last several weeks, my budget communications have included updates from the UA Board of Regents, and information on recent advocacy efforts, space consolidation, clarification on messaging received from external sources and details on budget repositioning. President Johnsen is in Juneau this week meeting with legislators as he seeks to improve our budget situation. On April 8, the Board of Regents will meet to discuss the president’s proposed approach to the budget scenarios likely at that time.

Following the April 8 BOR meeting, the president has scheduled an all-day budget meeting with chancellors to discuss directions forward. While it is hard to wait that long to get started with action on the budget planning, I am reluctant to set in motion changes that would be needed for stark scenarios that cannot be undone if the budget situation improves. That said, we are actively looking at ways we can manage our budget that are consistent with how we want to position ourselves for the future.

On Feb. 6 I noted early changes being looked at to reduce the number of off-campus buildings and leases, and to move more employees, equipment and programs into on-campus buildings. We are also looking at taking underutilized and outdated facilities offline in an effort to lower operation and maintenance expenses over the long term. Reducing our footprint now will strategically position UAF to focus resources on our student and employee experience, improve access to program or service areas, and modernize on-campus facilities for future improvements. Any movement of people and activities on our campus can be disruptive, but I would ask for your patience and understanding as we seek to position ourselves as a university.

Following is a list of actions under consideration. I encourage you to add your thoughts to the Box of Big Ideas.

  • Vacate the storage facility off Aurora Drive and move those employees, materials and functions onto campus for better engagement with the rest of the university community. This move would require improvements to the “deer yard” for more organized storage. The existing building on Aurora Drive could be sold.

  • Work within the existing space in the core campus and the Rasmuson Library to create a student engagement center that streamlines operations of multiple units and puts student service at the center of what we do.

  • Move Administrative Services onto campus where they can engage with faculty, staff and students more easily. The existing building on College Road could be sold.

  • Discontinue use of on-campus facilities that have outlived their usefulness, and relocate functions into more useable and efficient space. Examples under review could include specific farm buildings or consolidating some greenhouse use.

  • Move the UA Museum of the North maceration lab into existing and underutilized space so that the current ATCO unit use can be discontinued.

  • Suspend use of three of the four residence halls around Lola Tilly Commons to fully utilize other existing halls.

  • Reduce or eliminate ATCO use on campus and improve space within existing facilities for current activities.

  • Eliminate several single-family homes on campus that are currently unused, used for storage, or host uses that are more appropriate in other locations on campus.

  • Suspend use of the Carlson Center ice by making renovations to the Patty Center that would allow Nanook hockey to play on campus.

  • Renovate Constitution Hall to allow for ADA accessibility improvements and more efficient use.

I welcome feedback on facility consolidation or existing underutilized space as we continue to make efforts to reduce our footprint and long-term costs across campus.