Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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YouTube address: University President update on lessons learned, fractured unity

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen took to social media to review the Board of Regents’ discussion with the accrediting agency and actions the Board took at its meeting Monday. He reflects on how UA unity that he built during the budget debate, has now fractured and addresses lessons learned: 

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. The message from UA President: We dodged a budget cut bullet! More people than ever before threw a big enough tantrum to protect the status quo.

    After talking with the Northwest accreditation organization we have some little issues to deal with.

    Don’t worry, be happy!

  2. I too had the opportunity to reassess my position when the courses I’ve taught for 23 semesters were precipitously dropped from the schedule with less than two weeks notice, and before the closing date for enrollment. I had been lulled over 8 years into a sense of loyalty and complacency that was fractured deeply by the cancellation of my courses. Instead of continuing to loyally support the University and my Department through accepting a pay cut just to keep my courses on the schedule with a light enrollment, I’ve had the past couple of months to look for other opportunities, apply for early, reduced Social Security just to keep my lights on, and determine whether I should continue to anticipate the support of and conviction by the University that my loyalty and good course reviews had value. The University President has missed a real opportunity here to consolidate its expenses and reign in some of the bloated overhead of having so many redundant University administrations, particularly at the highest salary levels. My sense of unity and professional family has been deeply shaken and I am now considering pursuing more reliable opportunities elsewhere.

    • I’m terribly sorry. You have been treated badly and I hope you are either rehired or find a stable job elsewhere. Your story makes me so angry.
      Johnsen screwed up. The regents screwed up. But the lion’s share of the blame is owed to Dunleavy. Him and his ax-for-hire Arduin who will go to screw up the lives of more adjuncts in other states. None of this had to happen in the first place.

  3. Johnsen is taking his marching orders from Regent Chair John Davies. HUGE MISTAKE! Johnsen needs to think for himself and then enroll in a Business 101 course. Organizations fail because of expenses exceeding revenues.

  4. So Adam,
    One adjunct instructor points out how the UA BUREAUCRACY screwed them over as the institution continues in steep decline and that is Gov. Dunleavy’s fault?

    Did you learn that logic at UA?

    • If you like. I learned this mental habit in my university education: don’t just look to the most obvious causes of a problem, trace the problem to its source. (*) Treat the rash but look to see if a virus is causing it.
      Dunleavy is that virus. When the governor started a full scale attack on the university, making it clear he was going to cut by 135 million — an amount that couldn’t be covered even if you closed the doors– the university went into panic mode. (*) It wasn’t handled well. But, again, it didn’t do good job handling a crisis the governor created.
      Dunleavy vetoed the funds and maintained his position even when it became clear the cuts couldn’t be absorbed. He put the scholarships on hold, causing panic and encouraging students to attend other colleges. And, as Johnson said himself, he screwed up by staying in crisis mode after the crisis had lessened.
      Sounds like An Adjunct was good teacher and they should still have their job. The situation sounds tragic. If we had a competent governor an adjunct would still have job.
      Or, to use another metaphor: blame should be shared between the firemen and the arsonist — but the arsonist deserves the lion’s share of the blame.
      (*) but you don’t need to go to college to develop this mode of thinking. Shade tree mechanics think this way as well. The failure of one part might have started with the failure of another part
      (*) to get accreditation you need to agree to educate students of closed programs at other universities. Close UA and you still get bills for 4 years.

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