Board of Regents puts stop to consolidation of campuses - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, October 18, 2019
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Board of Regents puts stop to consolidation of campuses

For now, there will be no joining of University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau campuses into one entity. Not until at least 2021.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents, in response to a letter from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities accreditation agency, took heed of the warnings of a possible loss of accreditation for the consolidated university.

[Read: Accreditor has university system on notice over governance issues]

Just two weeks ago, the Regents had approved the plan by University President Jim Johnsen to take the three universities and combine them in to a single-accredited institution. Johnsen said such a move would lower costs enough to absorb the $70 million in cuts that are being spread out over three years across the university system. The first cut — $25 million — is in the current fiscal year, which started July 1.

But today, the regents cloistered themselves in executive session for two hours before emerging and voting on a new decision, an about-face that stops consolidation efforts until the University of Alaska Fairbanks has secured its accreditation in 2021.

[Read: Why did Anchorage Faculty Senate vote to suspend President Johnsen?]

If there is to be further consideration of consolidation, the regents said they’d want a cost-benefit analysis performed first. The regents plan to hire an accreditation consultant to ensure the university system makes no more unforced errors.

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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.

Latest comments

  • Play drag the rest of the university’s down with you? You’re the one that lost educational accreditation, has that monster of a graduation rate at 8% for a 4-year program. The board pointed the finger to the right person.

    • check the websites for the real numbers. I don’t know where that 8 percent rate came from its wrong.

  • Spend more and more on studying that they don’t have, smart? Studying for the next 10- to 15 years should push it out of everyone’s memory. In the mean time their budget will grow. Bet?

  • I don’t understand how Alaska needs this many colleges. Talk about a waste. Terrible grad rate, and kids who can’t fight their ways out of a paper bag so to speak. Now watch the debt continue to grow. Ridiculous.

    • Not true. Actually there are LOTS of outstanding kids who do really well with a UA degree. Go on to great jobs and advanced degrees. Kids who don’t finish often never intended to do a four year degree or should have started in a community college. The stats on graduation rates are skewed because UA is open enrollment and has no community college system. To get comparable numbers from other states you need to combine community college + open enrollment 4 yr programs. You can save money by shutting down the whole system and paying Alaska kids to attend out of state, but getting them to come back permanently is another story … and there’s something to be said for growing our own, continuing education opportunities, and opportunities for non-traditional students with families who want to finish a degree in Alaska.

      • well said

  • All of the agreed-to budget reductions can be accomplished by cutting UA Statewide.

  • There isn’t a single cost benefit study showing consolidating into one UA will save money. It will actually lead to lower tuition revenues (as successful face to face programs in Anchorage or Fairbanks are closed), higher administrative costs, and more centralized decisions that lead to poor outcomes. Statewide will be running the whole show – the 52 million dollar elephant in the middle of the room that should no longer exist in the same size and scope. Decentralization should lead to more efficient long run outcomes not greater centralization. Also the community campuses need to serve the communities – not be in the business of offering online courses and programs for the entire state.

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