Budget update: Nov. 13

November 13, 2019

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

During its meeting in Fairbanks last Friday, the Board of Regents (BOR) approved UA’s FY2021 budget request for submission to the Governor. As agreed to under the compact, this budget includes a $25 million reduction to UA’s state general fund support for next year. The Governor will consider this budget request and it will likely inform the budget he submits to the Legislature for their session starting in January 2020. At that point, the Legislature may consider changes before passing a final version back to the Governor for his signature or veto.

Chancellor Sandeen from UAA and I presented to the BOR our plans for moving forward with athletics programs for the 2020/2021 academic year, and I confirmed that we will be continuing athletics according to a new strategic and financial plan. In addition to its strong focus on supporting student-athletes and community engagement, the new strategic plan identifies a financial strategy that shifts from general fund support to private giving. My thanks to the student-athletes who attended the BOR meeting, and to Nanook Volleyball’s outside hitter and Chemistry major Lahra Weber who joined me for my presentation. Setter and Civil Engineering major Cate Whiting also provided public testimony at the meeting. Thank you both. I also thank Vice Chancellor Keith Champagne and Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director Terlynn Olds for their work in developing a new financial strategy for athletics.

In addition to the FY21 budget request, the BOR also heard a proposal for a 5 percent across-the-board tuition increase, as well as testimony from student governance with questions about the reasoning behind that number. ASUAF President Bernard Aoto and Vice President Daniel Vaziri shared thoughtful feedback that clearly resonated with the board. It was clear that more work needed to be done in this area, and the BOR postponed their decision on tuition rates until January to allow for a more thorough approach. At UAF, we will continue the discussion first with ASUAF leadership next week, and then in an open tuition forum Tuesday, Dec. 3, from 1-2 p.m.

I have shared a broad outline of how UAF could approach meeting our share of the anticipated FY21 reduction, and will be discussing our options and hearing your thoughts on specifics at the budget forum on November 21. I will begin the forum with a presentation covering the FY20 budget, FY21 expectations, updates on reducing our facilities footprint, one-time actions, academic and administrative program reviews, shared services, and vertical and horizontal reductions, and then the Vice Chancellors and I will take your questions and listen to your feedback. The one-hour forum is intended to be the start of a conversation on budget and is not intended to be the one chance to give feedback or ask questions.

As always, thank you for choosing UAF!