Headhunting at UA: Johnsen is back, but is apologizing for his crime of white privilege - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Headhunting at UA: Johnsen is back, but is apologizing for his crime of white privilege

In just a few short weeks, Jim Johnsen, the president of University of Alaska, has gone from being the leader of Alaska’s University System on his way to being president of the University of Wisconsin System, to metaphorically being forced to his knees to apologize for his white privilege.

The faculty of UA is now in the hunt for his head.

Johnsen issued an apology for comments he had made during his University of Wisconsin interview regarding the Permanent Fund dividend in Alaska, and because he answered a question about diversity wrong.

The question posed by a member of the interview committee in Wisconsin, was about his experience with diversity.

It was a trap that Johnsen walked right into.

“My experience at Doyon in particular, the Alaska Native Corporation, I was a minority working in that company. Alaska Native people owned the company. All the people who worked on my team were Alaska Native, as was the board. And we did a lot of great work together focusing on increasing employment opportunities through education for Alaska Native people,” Johnsen had answered.

Wrong answer, evidently.

The University of Wisconsin faculty saw a privileged white man talking down to minorities. Back at home, the University of Alaska faculty union has called for Johnsen’s removal for the crime of being IWW — insensitive while white.

On Tuesday, after Johnsen had already withdrawn from consideration for Wisconsin, he he was busy with the mea culpa tour, issuing an apology to the university community in Alaska for not acknowledging his white privilege:

“To have not first acknowledged my own white privilege in response to questions last week about my understanding of and approach to diversity and inclusion was a mistake. For that, I am sorry. We must do better and I must do better. I seek to be a part of the solution. Diversity, inclusiveness and freedom from bigotry and hatred are part of my core values but these must be our common values. 

“My experiences from childhood forward instilled in me the belief that every human being deserves respect regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity, and I know that I still have a lot to learn. Most importantly, I know that inclusion is necessary for diversity to exist, and I pledge to address my own biases, be more inclusive, respectful and to stand in the face of racism and injustice. 

“In my five years as president of the University of Alaska System, I have worked to create a culture of respect, and I vow to continue to learn, listen and work toward a university that is anti-racist, to actively participate in creating policies and practices that enhance equity, and to come together as a university community to address the injustice and discrimination that exist in our society.”

The current cultural climate in America is rough for non-minority business leaders, but academia is an especially harsh task master.

Johnsen will discover, if he has not already, that there is really nothing he can do to make up for his white privilege but resign, because once the mob smells blood, it will not stop until it has its pound of flesh.

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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

  • Spot on Suzanne…
    They are starting to feed on their own which indicates their end is in sight.

  • UAA needs a serious flush, from the top down……….
    Including much of the ‘faculty’

  • He should have been fired last year. To the Governor….law department…legislative body…get rid of this guy….I said it last year and am saying it again this year. He is a criminal in a suit. Grandiose schemes in all he touches and puts out there.

  • I love it when Liberals attack Liberals, just hilarious. He took the bait and walked right off the cliff.

  • Some might be interested, in general, what an institution, any institution, might look like if it were “anti-racist.” What policies would be required, specifically? Would there be required training? What would the training include? Would involvement with such an institution require a person to do certain things in a specific manner? What would those things be? Would involvement with such an institution necessarily include surrender of the right of free speech, including speech occurring outside the workplace? Just trying to obtain an understanding about what the future may look like…

    • You know the answer already – don’t be a light colored pigmented person, especially a male. Your only response is this: “Unfortunately, I was brought into this world as a light skinned male. I had no idea, until I learned that I’m responsible for the perceived transgressions of any past light skinned male. With this knowledge, I understand that I am the lowest of low and that I only deserve what scraps are left for me and I will take those with earnest. I know that I will NEVER understand what it’s like to be a person with darker pigment in their skin than me and since I was born into a white privilege I will do everything that I can to put those of darker skin pigment before me; AT ALL TIMES.”

      • As much as I appreciate your response, my questions are real and serious. My point is once anyone tries to put anything in writing either (a) it is complete Leftist loony-toons nonsense or (b) they will not do it.

  • Ah yes, my white privilege! Raised by a plethora of different people. I’ve worked since I was a little kid, we “gleaned” the fields in California after the professional pickers. I paid for my own schooling, worked 2 jobs at once. Never expected a handout from legal parents or from the state. I had my own business in AK, CA, TX, and WA. I earned, learned, and gave back to my community. I know I am not the only white person to work hard with only yourself to depend on. WTH is wrong with you people who talk “white privilege”?

  • Madness reigns.

  • No mention of him being in charge at the time UAA lost it’s teaching accreditation. I would think we need a leader who will not fall asleep at the wheel.

  • First of all, acknowledging so called “White Privilege” even exists is a damaging racist view. It asserts that whites are in fact better and all those with dark skin pigment is inferior. So much inferior that blacks must except societal handouts, in order to level the playing field. The ill-conceived idea of “White Privilege” is widely rejected by prominent members of the black community. And rightfully so, as it is untrue, extremely divisive and racist.

    • Very well said Philip.

  • It is too late for Johnson to salvage his reputation. He has used up
    his goodwill both in Wisconsin and Alaska. He seemed quite ready to throw Alaska under the bus in justifying why he was leaving in favor of a new position in Wisconsin. Now in facing his insensitive words he apologizes to Alaskans in order to keep his job here. Does anyone think he would have been apologetic to Alaskans had he got the out of state job. If he keeps his job I will compare him to Houdini.

  • And the comment from Alaska’s senior Senator was..??

  • Can’t we all just get along?

  • Get rid of this user of our money. Johnsen showed his ego and priority with his interview record at Wisconsin University system. He is overpaid and lacks the integrity to be part of our Alaska educational system.

  • Beta male wimp!

  • A written statement is so white. If he got down on his knees and groveled properly, maybe he could be forgiven………

    Nah! Just kidding! But it would be appropriate to watch. The far left revolution was spawned at our universities. It’s only appropriate that they eat the universities first……..

  • Johnsen also had this to say about Alaskans and the PFD “I really like the diversity of the Wisconsin economy. And I love the fact that Wisconsinites chip in. Now, they may not all agree with how much tax they pay, but coming from a state where individuals pay no taxes and expect a handout each year from our Permanent Fund, our oil savings account, I think actually Wisconsinites have taken much more personal and collective responsibility for their state,”
    .
    He has also walked that back by saying “I apologize for not being clear in recent comments to the Wisconsin community on the PFD. I appreciate that many Alaskans depend on the dividend, and I respect that it is a share of our natural resource wealth. My point was that when people invest in something—like education or government services—they have a stronger commitment to it, they care more about it.”
    .
    This from the guy who has spent his entire career in Alaska with his hand out groveling for more and more money. Pathetic. He shouldn’t be allowed to earn (not that he has ever actually earned anything) one more penny from this great State.

  • While he’s saying he has white privilege but lives like a king off the backs of minority and white people. Now, I’m considered white but are Hebrews white?I’m in the real minority; there are only 15 million Jews on the planet and we are attacked more than any other group of people. Where’s our reparations? Oh wait, we don’t see ourselves in this way. We work together with all races and we don’t see people as being more privileged than any other person. All lives matter, period!

  • At $325K per year salary + 75K bonus, free rent, perks, plush office, etc……U better believe he’ll go to his knees and beg forgiveness for being White. All White Lefties will do that when it comes to $$$. Hypocrites all.

    • Having an attractive income does not make you a hypocrite. When the day comes that you choose to apply yourself instead of assuming the cracker’s your biggest problem, you will find your life more rewarding.

      • Excuse me, but I work in the private sector, pay for my own groceries and gas, and live in my own house. President Johnsen does none of these things, but still wants to leave Alaska because he failed at lobbying the governor and legislature for more money. Isn’t his job to go to Juneau and beg for public money? Money that is derived from oil royalties from the North Slope? When beggers tire from begging, they go to the next street corner. And who you calling a cracker, Mabel?

        • Here’s your comment that defines for others what’s in your heart:

          “All White Lefties will do that when it comes to $$$. Hypocrites all.”

          There are multiple issues here and before I address them I’d like to first say that I applaud self reliance and willingness to work for your own betterment. One issue is that the job of president isn’t one where you lobby for money until you have enough to cover your inability to manage.. Another is that it’s rude to refer to white people categorically as “hypocrites all”.

          There’s a vast array of liars that would like others to believe they’re mourning while they’re looting and are hiding behind some nonsense about how one color or another matters more. In the current social context referring to whites as “hypocrites all” is intentionally derisive based on color and disingenuous. The woman responsible for this lively site appears to be white and having read a bunch of her work she doesn’t seem like a hypocrite at all. Would you like a second chance to explain what you meant?

          • Mabel, I said….White LEFTIES. I’m pretty sure that Suzanne is not a Lefty. It’s the Lefties that are trying to redefine our American culture……on their terms. I’m proud of my African American heritage, but my culture is purely American. Every bit as much as yours is.
            As for President Johnsen, I maintain my previous position. He has demonstrated that he is not happy being UA president. So he should step aside and allow someone else to be in that position. Throwing money at education does not make anyone particularly smart. Apparently, the UA and our public schools have forgotten about the virtues of good teaching. But, thank you for your civility in discourse.

          • Mabel, how does “all white lefties” become “all whites?” You cut and pasted Lakreesha’s words, then misquoted her. The meaning I took from Lakreesha’s post is white people on the left will grovel in order to retain the benefits of the “white privilege” which they appear to scorn. Is that not hypocrisy, just as Lakreesha claims? I’m not claiming to speak for anyone but myself, but it is certainly disingenuous to misquote someone then proceed to criticize their words.

  • Isn’t there an old parable that fits Johnsen’s situation to a tee? When you have it good, but continuously look for greener pastures, you usually end up in the pile of manure that is used to cultivate a new beginning for someone else. Tough luck to Johnsen. Unhappy dude.

    • You reap what you sow!

  • The only thing Johnsen needs to apologize for is being back in Alaska. If he isn’t left enough for U of W, he’s not ‘right’ for Alaska either. Instead of apologizing for being white, he could pay back some of the millions he bilked Alaska out of. He will be on his knees, no matter what his excuse. Just remember who and what he is, Alaskans.
    Try to remember, the kind of November, when we win, we win. It’s coming sooner than you think.

  • Johnsen’s other troubling comment was that he feels entitled to an ever-increrasing chunk of our dividend that was established to help protect the Permanent Fund from spendthrift politicians and bureaucrats. But, we already know that there’s no accountability for failure within the UA system. Case in point: why in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks does Sandeen still have a job? The loss of UAA’s accreditation for their education program fully happened as a slow-motion train wreck under her watch and I doubt anyone paid for that other than the students.

    • In fact, the Education debacle happened thusly: 1. Johnsen convinces the Board that the Education programs should be consolidated to UAF where the smallest number of EDU students attend and the cost per student is highest. 2. All heck breaks loose and the Board looses resolve; UAS puts a cool million on the table and buys the top spot, but at least they turn out teachers, historically, and at the lowest per student cost. 3. Education Faculty and administrators at UAA, on the cusp of accreditation, see the madness and endless meddling from the statewide bureaucracy and bail in droves; accreditors show up and find a shell remaining with a few dedicated remainders trying to hold it together. Most all of this occurred prior to Sandeen. Not defending and institution that spends more per student than almost any other, anywhere – but the facts can throw some light on root cause. All this is in the Board minutes.

  • Thank you Suzanne this is why I support you and hope everyone else who commented here does as well. Really can’t add much to what others have said above thank you all for your candor… My favorite comment about this fool…”Beta male wimp” … which says it all. And the sad part is he doesn’t even know it. Clueless.
    He is a perfect poster boy for many of the admin types running the educational system all across this state. Most other states too.

  • Wawawa.

    .

    I love my privilege and I’m not stupid enough to walk into that one.

  • Heir Johnsen has been long over due to leaving.

  • Happiness is the UA President heading south, with 200 overpaid UA administrators on the plane with him.

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