Monday, June 5, 2023
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A university dripping dollars


Alaskans should be paying close attention. And they should be more than a little peeved.

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The University of Alaska spent half-a-million dollars – $495,000 to be exact – on a PR campaign, “UA Strong,” to keep its state funding after Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed a $134 million cut in state funding of the institution, KTUU reports.

University officials and supporters fibbed at the time that the cut would amount to 41 percent of the university’s funding; that the university would fail; that the end was near.

Media picked up the fib and repeated it, even in national publications that should have known better.

The proposed cut actually amounted to a 41 percent cut of the Legislature’s proposed $322 million contribution to the university. It would have amounted to something like 17 percent of the university’s complete annual budget, which, counting all revenue streams – including tuition, grants and contracts – hovers near $900 million.

The university, despite is caterwauling to the contrary, is far from broke. “The University of Alaska Foundation manages the Consolidated Endowment Fund totaling $337.5 million, which includes both $191.1 million in Foundation endowments created by gifts from donors over the years, as well as the university’s land grant endowment of $146.4 million,” the foundation says on its website.

While UA and the education industry in Alaska fought to persuade lawmakers to keep the university’s bloated budget in place, the university sought help, KTUU reports. The Anchorage-based agency Brilliant Media Strategies eventually won the bid for the work and the campaign ran from March 6 until the end of the legislative session.

It must have worked. The Legislature approved a budget that shaved only $5 million from state funding for the university. Dunleavy later vetoed an additional $130 million, and the university ran advertisements to raise stink on six Anchorage and Fairbanks TV stations and 26 radio stations.

The governor later signed an agreement with Board of Regents Chair John Davies that would cut $70 million from the university’s budget over three years, instead of $135 million in one.

It is unseemly to us that a university – or any government agency or entity, state or local, for that matter – would essentially put on an expensive, full-court press PR campaign for more government money to spend and play fast and loose with the truth along the way.

We suppose it should come as no surprise. As always with Alaska’s education industry, when you ask how much it needs, the answer is always, “more.”

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Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. So, the ‘Deep State’ does exists at the UofA System! Given this nugget of info, how do they expect us (ie – the constituency) to trust and/or have any confidence in them? The Guv should’ve cut their budget 25% and held strong with that. Maybe(?), he will have a different tactic knowing the true character of the UofA System Administration. My Recommendation …. ‘Scorched Earth’ and then, rebuild it into something of purpose, integrity, and value.

  2. This is what we have known all along. Fatcats reaping our Alaska dollars. The whole system needs trimmed, and a new admin should be appointed for fiscal responsibility. This is inept at the least and common theft at most.

  3. If Alaskans and Americans as a whole will not wake up to this Socialistic Nightmare we will very soon loose our Nation and then everyone will say, “How could this happen?” Anytime a Government supports what should be Private Enterprise with your Tax Dollars it is Democratic Socialism which is the foundation of a Communist/Fascist/Nazi system that you built yourself through ignorance.
    Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  4. The media is often not interested in truth as we all know and well, the campaign worked didn’t it? Instead of 135 million in cuts this coming year, the UA administration got a much better deal. Only 70 million cut and over three years.

  5. UA Strong signs make good firewood for woodburners. Chop up at night. Consider it a donation by the university to all “dry wood” burners. And he sure to thank the gov.

  6. Our University spends somewhere between $10 million and $20 million on NCAA athletics every year.
    Attendance is abysmal, even though every full time student is required to buy tickets in advance as part of their mandated tuition fees.

    How can our University can afford to support a failing sports entertainment industry if they are broke?

    -try to get the real numbers on athletic expenditures. It is a moving-hidden target. Deficit spending is hidden. Tuition grabs is hidden. Facility costs?

    • Let’s not forget the dismal percent of grads that happens from this stuffed university. But they still keep packing them in!

      • They do keep packing them in, signing them up, letting them fail and saddling with billions of student loan debts that they can’t and will not ever pay back. Then their credit ratings tank and they lose everything. They end up uneducated, unemployable and frustrated. Social decline of Alaska’s youth starts there. The private colleges like Charter College are even worse.

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