Budget update: Aug. 11, 2021

— by Dan White, chancellor

After years of budget reductions, the UA system has been asked to provide areas for potential investment by the state for FY23. In particular, we have been asked to shape our thinking around areas that would impact the state’s economy. Last week, chancellors were asked to provide focus areas where we would seek state budget increments in response to the following questions: 

  1. With additional state investment and support from the Dunleavy administration, and working with state and local partners, what areas can you make a demonstrable difference in the state’s economy?
  2. What are the top areas where you are recognized as a national leader?
  3. With additional state investment areas could you be viewed as a national leader?

Furthermore, UA has also provided their preliminary FY23 planning guidance to the chancellors that asks for consideration of:

  • Priorities that fit with the Board of Regents’ goals and measures, including focus on a reduced fixed-cost base, promoting student enrollment, and benefit to the Alaska economy
  • Providing stability to the UA budget, including key investments for economic return
  • A compensation strategy necessary to attract and retain quality employees
  • Modernizing the student technology experience
  • Increasing earned revenue through partnerships
  • Capital funding for deferred maintenance and renewal projects
  • The state funding environment

With the Deans’ Council and Research Planning Group input, the Core Cabinet and I drafted the following to start the discussion for items 1-3 above. I welcome your feedback on the ideas below.

  1. Areas we make a demonstrable difference in the state’s economy
    1. Environmental change and data analytics
    2. Resource assessment, recovery rehabilitation
      1. Blue economy, fisheries, mariculture
      2. Critical and strategic minerals, mining and enhanced oil recovery
      3. Environment and ecosystems recovery and rehabilitation
    3. Arctic infrastructure and alternative energy
    4. Arctic security and domain awareness
    5. Unmanned aircraft
  2. Areas we are recognized as a national leader
    1. Remote sensing to support natural resource and geo hazards management, including various federal and state agencies
    2. Climate change and cold climate engineering 
    3. Security and emergency management
    4. Alternate energy and microgrids
    5. Indigenous studies (Alaska Native, Arctic, circumpolar) 
      1. Governance, policy and law
      2. Self-determined development
      3. Language revitalization
  1. Areas could you be viewed as a national leader with additional state investment
    1. Arctic security and infrastructure
    2. One Health and the interconnected roles of:
      1. Human health, including well-being and the arts
      2. Environmental health, including food systems and agriculture
      3. Animal health
    3. Technology development for northern regions (e.g., unmanned aircraft) in the areas of:
      1. Domestic
      2. Commercial
      3. Military Use
    4. Indigenous cultures and languages
    5. Fire science, paramedicine, biomedical technology

In addition to your input, I am also soliciting feedback directly from Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and the Planning and Budget Committee.

On Thursday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m. I will be hosting a Zoom webinar (passcode: 12809) and ask that you submit questions in advance as well as provide feedback on the proposed framework above. I look forward to your feedback and participation as we shape UAF’s FY23 request. 

As a bit of context, this initial guidance will shape the UA system-level planning discussions that will be brought to the UA Board of Regents for consideration in September and again in November. UAF will also be considering the tuition strategy for fall 2022 and examining enrollment data and projections further, as we continue to work together and make progress in this regard. 

A request for potential investment from the state’s leadership is a positive step forward and I am optimistic about future partnerships to invest in Alaska’s and UAF’s future. 

Thanks for choosing UAF.