Budget update: May 15

May 15, 2019

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

Earlier today UA Statewide announced the close-out of the legislative conference committee on the University of Alaska’s operating budget. The conference committee settled at the Senate’s operating request of $322 million. The budget also included two appropriation structures and the House committee intent language to consider single accreditation, and it required funding of the Educators Rising program. The legislative reduction for FY20 is $5 million less than the university’s FY19 allocation of $327 million. The budget process is a long way from over, as the Legislature’s plan is significantly different from the governor’s proposal. Given the possibilities, however, our current position is a good one to be in.

We continue to work on President Johnsen’s direction to plan for “case 2” of his April 8 presentation to the Board of Regents (see p. 21 of the document). This internal budget repositioning requires a statewide reallocation of $30 million in existing funds to meet BOR priorities. Furthermore, as I detailed in my memo from Jan. 30, the president asked the chancellors to find savings from:

  • adjusting part-time faculty positions to our peer levels;

  • increasing curriculum coherence and creating clearer pathways to student success;

  • consolidating sections and/or adding them to the workload of full-time faculty;

  • working with faculty to redesign certain courses along the lines of the successful work led by the National Center for Academic Transformation;

  • creating larger GER courses;

  • adjusting workloads to optimize university priorities (e.g., assigning faculty to high-priority activities such as instruction, applied research and student-support activities);

  • reviewing how we deliver various courses and degrees at our community campuses; and

  • increasing class-size minimums.

Task forces were asked to look over some of the above areas over the last couple of months, and the provost has sought input on others from the deans. The work of the task forces is being reviewed, and some recommendations being considered for implementation.

We continue to look at space as an area to reduce operating and maintenance costs overall so that we can protect our teaching, research and outreach missions. As an example, we are looking at the Fairbanks and Mat-Su farms to continue supporting the facilities that are in high demand for research and extension activities, and cutting down on the maintenance of minimal-use facilities. Areas around and within the farm footprints are being reviewed by the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and by central UAF leadership for possible revenue generation.

Thank you to everyone for your contributions to committees, the Box of Big Ideas and to UAF overall. Thank you for the work you do that makes UAF great!