November 11, 2016

Nov. 11, 2016

Regents approve FY18 budget and tuition, takes action on Strategic Pathways

FAIRBANKS – In its final scheduled meeting of the year, the Board of Regents took action on Strategic Pathways recommendations, approved a 5 percent tuition increase and the FY18 budget request, discussed a long-term financial approach to funding the university, and elected board officers for the coming year.

Strategic Pathways:

The board reviewed recommendations for organizational changes in of management and business education, teacher education, and intercollegiate athletics and passed motions that:

  • Approved moving from three schools of management to two by eliminating the school of management at UAS. UAS’ current business bachelor’s degree and its master’s in public administration degree will be moved back under the College of Arts and Sciences, subject to approval of the accrediting agency, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; and,
  • Approved the president’s decision not to pursue elimination of cross country or alpine skiing or any other sports at this time, and supported the president’s plan to engage the community in increasing private funding support for athletics.

The board also endorsed the president’s plan to consolidate the administration of UA’s three teacher education colleges but set aside for further discussion the future location of the administrative base for teacher education. Consolidation of the college’s administration would be a reduction in administration, but degree programs, faculty and students would remain across the three campuses. The administrative change also is dependent on approval from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

The board applauded the efforts of university administration to reduce expenditures in all areas, including intercollegiate athletics.

Budget and Tuition:

The board agreed to a 5 percent tuition increase for Academic Year 2018 and supported the administration’s 10-year financial plan to fund the university through 2025. The plan is based on a gradual decrease in state funding and relies on an aggressive increase in university enrollment as well as an incremental increase in tuition to meet the western states’ average for tuition and fees. The plan is designed  to meet the projected education needs of state’s future workforce, which predicts that by 2025, 65 percent of jobs in will require some postsecondary education.

Using the 10-year financial plan as a guide, regents also approved an FY18 operating budget request of $341.1 million, including strategic investments focused on meeting the aggressive recruitment and retention goals including improved student services, growing research capacity, greater K-12 partnerships, workforce development, and economic development. Regents approved a capital budget request of $50 million for deferred maintenance in addition to further investments into facility maintenance incorporated into the annual operating budget. Johnsen said he would continue to work with campuses to prepare contingency budget scenarios if the university did not receive $341 million from the state.

Regarding the long-term budget plan, Johnsen said: “The status quo simply is not sustainable. We must look hard at ourselves, and make tough choices about how to operate more cost effectively. At the same time, we must ensure academic quality, access and affordability, long term sustainability, while minimizing any negative community impacts. We are hard at work now toward our goal – a high quality, cost effective, affordable higher education system for University of Alaska.”

Special presentations

A number of special presentations and discussion supplemented the business meeting.

  • UAF provided a lunchtime presentation featuring a number of initiatives supporting rural . The Community Campus Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA) program has successfully trained more than 2,000 CNAs through 10 rural campus sites across Northern and Western . The program focuses on meeting the high demand for health care practitioners in rural communities. The presentation also focused on research to reduce suicide and alcohol risks among native youth. The research has successfully partnered with native communities to teach traditional native skills, values and cultural teachings that successfully increased youth belief in their abilities, families and communities showing a measurable increase in protection against alcohol and suicide risk among native youth. Native professors presented on advancements in language and culture revitalization in Southwestern and the increasing success of Native graduates.
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research Dan White gave an overview on the Value of Higher Education in featuring an evaluation of the affordability of the , graduate workforce placement rates and earning potentials, and student satisfaction survey results.
  • White also presented an update on the many productive partnerships active throughout the system including academic, industry, community, and school partners that expand program offerings, improve workforce development efforts, provide hands-on learning needs and adaption of programs to met community needs, and strengthen ’s education system from pre-K to post graduate.

Board Elections

The board elected officers for the next two years and recognized outgoing Regent Kenneth J. Fischer. The new officers elected are:

  • Chair – Gloria O’Neill
  • Vice Chair – John Davies
  • Secretary – Lisa Parker
  • Treasurer – Deena Paramo

In closing, regents thanked Regent Ken Fisher for his steadfast commitment to students and in particular the avoidance of student debt during his eight year service to the university. The Board also thanked outgoing Chair Jo Heckman for her two years of outstanding service as board Chair. The board also thanked President Johnsen for his vision and leadership during difficult times and each other for the willingness to have frank and open conversations about the challenges the university faces.


For more information contact Roberta Graham, associate vice president of public affairs at 907-786-1190 or 907-360-2416 (cell).