Budget update: March 6

March 6, 2019

Tori Tragis

Last week the UA Board of Regents met and heard updates from President Johnsen, chancellors, UA governance, government relations and UA finance. Active discussion also took place about the proposed $134 million reduction in state funding. While there was a great deal of uncertainty, many maintained a sense of optimism and vision.  

One of the areas the regents discussed as part of our strategy was the development of an advocacy campaign. UA statewide is engaging with external advocacy experts to help coordinate messaging and strategy, and working with key stakeholders such as faculty, students, donors and alumni. I believe this effort is close to launching. In the meantime, I hope you have had a chance to review the updated advocacy resources on my website

One topic discussed by the board was how the university will approach contingency planning. The regents supported keeping UA’s strategic goals to guide the decision-making process. Elements of the contingency planning strategy proposed by President Johnsen included:

  • Position each university to be its best for its students and the state

  • Refine, focus each university mission

  • Each university will identify programs that are core to that mission

  • Support core programs for access statewide

  • Prioritize other programs based on mission, enrollment, cost, quality, demand, availability of alternatives, and like factors

  • Reduce/eliminate complexity

  • Consolidate/standardize administration

Another issue that was discussed by board members was how to express the proposed $134 million cut — whether as 41 percent or 17 percent of the university’s budget. The university’s budget is comprised of the following categories: unrestricted general fund (or UGF), designated general fund (or DGF), federal funds, and smaller sources grouped together and referred to as “other." Our single largest source of revenue, the UGF, is made up of unrestricted funds from the state to support the university. The DGF is the portion of our budget derived from various university revenues such as interest income, philanthropic support, tuition and fees. "Federal funds" refers to grants and contracts received by the university, primarily to support research (such as the Sikuliaq research vessel). The category “other” includes, for example, capital improvement project funding, and state interagency contracts. Because we are a state entity, all funds — federal, state or other — are considered part of the university’s budget, and we must have receipt authority from the state to spend them. Hence, our total budget represents all sources: UGF, DGF, federal and other funds. The total $134 million is 41 percent of our UGF, and 17 percent of all sources.

I am encouraged by the number of people who continue to reach out and ask how they can support UAF. I am heartened to know how many people, including community and industry partners, faculty and staff members, alumni, and students, value UAF and recognize the significant impact we have on our communities and state.

I will see you at the student-organized rally taking place at 5:30 this evening at Wood Center.