Budget update: May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

Last week I mentioned that the core cabinet and I have been working to refine UAF’s budget reduction targets as we learn more about how larger scale actions (e.g., debt refinancing) will affect FY21 and FY22 budgets. Today I asked Vice Chancellors to plan for 12.5% reductions for FY21 rather than the previous target of 15%. The Vice Chancellors will determine how to apply reductions and may choose to apply different proportions across their units. We will provide additional updates as we learn more about potential cost savings measures and COVID-19 costs and revenues. VCAS Julie Queen is working very closely with the statewide budget office to monitor systemwide changes as well as changes in our budget disposition at UAF.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the Planning and Budget Committee and the Tuition and Fee Committee for their recently completed work. My special thanks to the students who served on both of these committees. The committees addressed budget issues for UAF and considered tuition rate setting for FY22 and FY23. As we look to tie tuition rates more closely to our budget process, their work coupling these two will be very helpful. 

I also want to thank the Tuition and Fee Committee for its ongoing work on the consolidated fee proposal. Once implemented, UAF students will have a more streamlined statement in their billing, and many will see a modest reduction in fees. 

Last week, President Johnsen announced a new strategy for the university system (PDF) that will likely impact our current budget planning. Seven options from a list of 18 were selected based on factors including  general fund cost savings potential, ability to ensure student access and affordability, opportunity to support mission focus, time and ease of implementation, and additional considerations around such things as online alternatives. The options identified are as follows:


  • Set single definition of lecture/course hour (50 or 60 minutes, one or the other) across UA.

  • Consolidate and redesign common GERs in the system

  • Increase coordination of curriculum and faculty and staff resources in similar programs across UA


  • Devolve Information Technology services from Statewide to universities

  • Consolidate Information Technology services in Statewide

Structural/mission change

  • Merge community campuses into UAS

  • Merge UAS into UAA and/or UAF, while preserving access and other values 

Many of these considerations are not new but are being revised or reviewed in a different context as there is additional  budget pressure from COVID-19 and the compact agreement with Governor Dunleavy. All of the options, if implemented, will have some impact on our budget. We will know more about how the board wants these options considered after next week’s June 4 and 5 board meeting. 

In last week’s budget column I asked for your feedback on the options laid out by President Johnsen. I have also asked Vice Chancellors and Governance leaders to gather input. The more ideas, opinions and perspectives the better. I encourage you to continue to let me know your thoughts from the UAF perspective. Thank you for this input and for your commitment.

Thank you for choosing UAF.