Budget update: Oct. 9

October 9, 2019

Tori Tragis

— by Dan White, chancellor

Monday the Board of Regents (BoR) held an emergency meeting to address concerns raised by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). In a letter sent on September 26, the accrediting body for UAF, UAA, and UAS drew the regents’ attention to the need for clarity on leadership roles and responsibilities and the need for inclusive processes with shared governance. 

At its meeting, the regents had a conversation with representatives from the NWCCU and heard from UAF student government and systemwide faculty, student, and staff representatives. They then passed three motions:

  1. Suspend the single accreditation model discussion until after UAF renews its accreditation in 2021; 

  2. Suspend the statewide program reviews currently underway; and

  3. Meet the last week of October to review the coordinated response to the accrediting agency, to look at a timeline and plan for a strategy session to look at the university’s governance structure and to hire a consultant with expertise in accreditation and a mutual facilitator. 

What does this mean for UAF going forward?

First, UAF will proceed with our own expedited academic program reviews in accordance with BOR policy. Because this policy requires that our program review process be reviewed and approved by the President, it is generally not distributed until after that point. Provost Prakash and I worked with Faculty Senate leadership to develop a plan that is currently under review by the President. When that is approved we will communicate the process and work with units. 

Second, expedited reviews will not lead to savings in this fiscal year and we still have a budget to meet. We are getting clarity from the President regarding what, if any, savings may arrive through administrative consolidations or integrations already in place (Human Resources, Procurement). The BoR did not take action on administrative consolidation or integration Monday but it was a topic of discussion. We are now actively working on strategies to find one-time savings that will be essential to addressing the budget cut so late in the year.  

A spot of much needed good news is that, enrollments showed some leveling out. We saw key increases, particularly at the Troth Yeddha’ campus. This is in large part due to the efforts of many of you in our Strategic Enrollment Planning (SEP) process - something I discussed in my last update. This effort included a multi-phased approach to planning, considering data and analysis to make recommendations. The priority ranking was rooted in a return-on-investment framework, which will hopefully create the ability to reinvest revenues to grow each program. Over 150 individuals participated in one or more of these committees, examining ways to invest in what works best for UAF’s efforts to recruit and retain more students. Last year we set aside funding for some investments into SEP. The FY20 investments in SEP were laid out in a memo to vice chancellors last week.

Going forward, there will be continued opportunities to stay engaged. Please keep submitting your Big Ideas. Provide comments and feedback on the structural models. Participate on committees. And keep bringing your great spirit, thinking, and service to UAF. 

There are challenging conversations ahead. It takes a lot of our faculty, staff, and students’ time, effort, thought, and caring to stay engaged in these discussions, to serve on committees, and to keep doing what you’re here to do. The care and commitment that has been demonstrated by our university community is truly inspiring. Thank you.