August 5, 2020

August 5, 2020

Board of Regents rescinds its decision to study a UAS-UAF merger and provides new direction; hears update on universities’ COVID-19 plans for fall semester

FAIRBANKS -- The Board of Regents voted today 9-0 to rescind its June 4 motion to prepare a conceptual plan for merging the Southeast and the Fairbanks, and passed new a motion directing the president to work with the chancellors and shared governance in a transparent and inclusive manner to:

  • develop clarity and standards for administrative and instructional costs relative to student enrollment, and review structural options;

  • analyze opportunities and costs associated with a greater presence of fisheries and ocean science programs on the Juneau campus;

  • redouble efforts on collaboration across the system, program sharing, and partnerships with industry, communities, and tribal organizations; and,

  • assure the College of Education has clear roles and responsibilities for program delivery that address the priority of teacher education that are transparent and well-integrated across the system.

The board would regularly receive updates and review progress at upcoming board meetings. A review of structural options would focus on improving how the university provides programs, functions and services. 

“What struck me in the last two weeks is seeing the amount of feedback from the University advocates not just in Juneau or southeast but across the state,” said UA Interim President Pat Pitney. She said, “...downsizing will continue due to the significant state budget reductions compounded by the impacts of COVID. Yes, the reductions have been and will be painful, however,  a stable core of quality programs will remain to serve students, industry, the state, and communities once achieved. Success of the system is dependent on our communities and businesses embracing their campuses and programs. Future actions will keep the trust of communities and businesses at the top of the list.” 

Regents also received an update on COVID-19 impacts and university plans for the fall the semester. The universities are developing testing contracts as needed and using a multi-pronged strategy to conduct small scale, quick turnaround testing and developing contact tracing procedures, which are limited in scope but supportive of the public health tracing activities. 

Each Chancellor provided specific plans for preventative measures, mitigation plans, housing, in-person and online course delivery, research activities, food service, and other details of onsite operations plans, as well as the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I want to say I'm so appreciative to faculty and staff for being flexible,” Pitney said. “Everyone is standing by to implement mitigation strategies midstream as we work through this. It's encouraging to see.”  

The Board of Regents is an 11-member volunteer board, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. Members serve an eight-year term, with the exception of the student regent who is nominated from his/her campus and serves a two-year term. The Board was established through the Constitution and is responsible for University of Alaska policy and management through the University President.

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