Berkowitz tells university administration to break deal with governor


Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, fresh off his trip to Japan, attended a meeting of the University Board of Regents in Anchorage on Thursday, where he told the regents and Administration to not accept the deal they had signed with the governor for budget cuts over the next two years.

The compact that Board of Regents Chairman John Davies and University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen signed with Dunleavy was for a $25 million cut to the university system’s budget this year, $25 million next year, and $20 million the following year.

Berkowitz was quoted by KTUU as saying the regents should push back agains the governor and Legislature on future cuts.

“Just because there are poorly considered decisions made in Juneau, there is no reason for us to accept that passively.”

The multi-year compact that preserved $110 million in state funding for the university for Fiscal Year 2020. The agreement also means that budgets submitted to the governor by the Board of Regents over the next two fiscal years will reflect $45 million in additional reductions.


  1. The Mayor realizes that the agreement with the Governor diffuses, to a certain extent, the outrage over the UA cuts. He wants a war; a war in which his blood is not at risk for being spilled. Ethan wants to run for higher office again. He realizes that with the Congressional Democrats doing things like voting to tie up ANWR again, it is not going to be a good year to run against Senator Sullivan. Thus, he may covet the Governor’s office, if he can weaken Governor Dunleavy over the next few years.

    Question for the Mayor: Does the UA really need EIGHT Vice Chancellors for Administration?

  2. Good gawd Ethan, take care of the city affairs and let the UA manage its affairs. And can you imagine Ethan as Gov and Forrest Dunbar as Anchorage Mayor? It’s getting hot in here!

  3. This dance with the UAA Administration needs to come to an end. UAA is not Harvard. It is a fact that the UAA Administration did not care about those student’s that were in the educational teaching program that was stripped of it’s certification due to the fact that Jimbo Johnson did not exercise his leadership authority and obligation to ensure that the credentials of the program were maintained in keeping with national standards. Johnson failed to exercise his leadership obligation to maintain the national standards as required. UAA was stripped of the national certification.

    Accordingly, regarding the budjet agreement, should the UAA administration withdraw their support for the recently negotiated budjet agreement, Govermor Dunleavy must terminate the contracts of those in the UAA administration that join in the rejection.

    Moreover, the Board of Regents are appointed by the Govermor. Accordingly, those on the board that do not support the Governor in a decision to terminate Johnson must be replaced by the Govermor with those that would extend their 100% support of the Governor in his financial decision. This must be the chess move that the Governor must engage.

    Ross Bieling

    Game over

    • So the solution to loss of the accreditation of one department is to put the accreditation of the entire university in jeopardy?
      If you actually care about students stop making the schools the staging ground for political battles. Let the teachers teach and students study.

    • I won’t argue cause/effect, but certainly a contributing factor that is missed regarding the loss of accreditation for the UAA education school: Didn’t the UA President suggest the Board move all Education school leadership to one unit in Fairbanks? Then, didn’t the resulting tumult result in faculty and staff upheaval while the seat of the school subsequently moved to Juneau? And after that, didn’t the accrediting authority write to the Board to say “not so fast?” We should not excuse UAA, but we might temper our rage when we realize it was the only main campus excluded in the “single school” rodeo, and that fact may have contributed to an exodus of the very folks needed to establish accreditation.

      I agree UAA is not Harvard – thank goodness. The ivy league may not be the best model, anyway. But UAA operates at a fraction (half?) the cost of UAF, if the institution’s own numbers a processed by Director Barnhill are to be believed. I hope the final model is more along the lines of a responsive, cost effective, bench-mark accountable institution operated for the benefit of Alaska and Alaskan’s, rather than a self-serving hotel for academics who consider nation-leading (double!) costs just fine.

    • If you only realized the Jimmy Johnson(less) plan, all along, was to bolster UAS and move Anchorage’s School of Education to Juneau. Therein making the UAS campus profitable.

  4. Why don’t you clear up your miserable city of Anchorage actions with your Homeless all over the place?. Killings and robberies all over Anchorage, like Chicago. And keep your nose out of U of A affairs.

  5. Perhaps someone should follow the money from the UA and how it leads to Mr. Berkowitz? Seems awfully more concerned about that rather than the nomadic homeless tent city, the rise in burglary, car theft, assault…and wasn’t there a murder just yesterday? For that matter, let’s look at the deplorable state of the school test scores in Anchorage, as well as the fact that the police department is overburdened, under-manned and working on gigs that should be attended to by social workers and clean-up crews. Just saying.

    But no, by all means, let’s start another unending war with the administration over funding of the university.

  6. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, Making Anchorage Portland Again. As goes Anchorage, so goes the once great State of Alaska. Soon to be the progressive utopia of the North…

  7. Berkowitz reminded the administration that the legislature appropriates and the governor had no right to make the deal (*). The deal is a a sham designed to allow the governor to save face. After the recall petition gathered 28 K signatures in two weeks the governor caved. To pretend he didn’t give in to legislature he signed this phony deal.
    Sadly, Johnson is pretending the deal is real because if he doesn’t he’ll have to back drown from his wasteful, destructive one university plan.
    Good for Berkowitz. First time in a long time we’ve heard an informed voice speaking inside a regents meeting.
    (*) Indeed the governor is in court saying you cannot agree to fund education three years into the future. Yet he is saying that it’s a-ok to agree to cuts three years into the future. Which is it Dunleavy? Can you only deal with budgets one year at time or not? We see you trying to have both ways.

    • How ’bout next year just veto university spending only. Hit them even harder. People don’t want to give up their PFD checks and get hit with new taxes just to keep a bunch of useless leftists employed.

      • “. . . How ’bout next year”
        Thing is I don’t think there is going to be a next year. I think governor will be recalled before then.
        And the writing is on the wall, cuts don’t create PFDs. We got cuts. We didn’t get the 7,000 PFD the governor campaigned on.

    • Appropriating funds and vetoing appropriations are two different things. You can’t spend money you don’t have (forward appropriations), but you can say we won’t spend money we don’t have which is what the deal with UA does.

  8. Perhaps Berkowitz’s suggestion has value for the governor. If the regents rescind their agreement, then the governor should restore his original proposed budget veto.

    • Agreed. The regents should announce that they were forced to sign a document without any legal meaning. This should inform the recall vote.
      Sounds like we want the same thing — let’s put this before the voters. I want the voters to know that they are voting to retain someone who cut their services, who wants to cut even more services and cannot deliver the PFD he promised.

  9. In a “Constitutional Republic” there is absolutely no funding for any educational system, period. Education must be funded by the people being educated or by Scholarships. If you pay for it yourself, you can go as long as you like and with a Scholarship you must prove your qualifications. Very Simple. Government Funded Education is just another form of Socialism. Socialism has been our path for so long that now most everyone just accepts it. That is what causes a Constitutional Republic to fall. When our Constitutional Republic was established in the late 1700’s, we were the envy of the entire world. We set the example for the entire world, but now we brag about being a Social Democracy which a good Webster Dictionary says is an intermediate step to Complete Socialism, Dictatorship, etc., etc. Which do you really want??? Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

      • The graduation rate — is club that critics use to beat on the university. If you want to have graduation rates like, say, the University of California system you need to structure admissions like the UC system. End open enrollment. Become a system that serves the elite.
        Is that what you would like to see? Fewer Alaskans allowed to take university classes?

        • College is not supposed to be giving out participation awards. Maybe some Alaskans are going to college that shouldn’t be. Lowering the standards does not make for better outcomes. “Elite” can mean many things…. having the IQ to make it through college isn’t elite so much as reality.

  10. From what I can tell, the Governor did not, and does not want to crush the university system. He wants it to have a reality check and start living within its means. If it needs more money, because it wants to grow, it needs to do that by creating incentives for people to come here- namely running good programs and hiring top level instructors-and build the revenue off tuition. Looking at out of state enrollments, and the occupancy of the dorms, this is not the current case. He brought a hard offer in as a negotiating tool, then got them to the table to agree to sensible changes- let’s not forget, these same administrators were so out of touch, that, in this climate, they came to the legislature originally proposing no cuts and an 8% increase in their budget- so getting them to act like adults was a win for the Governor, and the state.

    Were they to take the mayors advice and unilaterally walk away? I think they would be opening the door, to, at a minimum the reinstatement of the previous cuts..and my sense is, other than those who work in the University system, the voters are not with them. Most know full well the waste and abuse, statewide. Almost all Alaskans want a university system, they just don’t want overbuilt for ego, largess, and complacency, that pulls resources from other services, when it could be vastly better managed to pay its own bills.

Comments are closed.