University board denies salary increases, adjusts funds in proposed 2018 operating budget

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Lack of salary increases to some faculty and no increases to staff are just some of the ways the University of Alaska is attempting to bridge the gap in its operating budget, according to the plan being proposed by the Board of Regents.

The proposed budget will be discussed at 1 p.m. Tuesday, with the goal of approving it and then sending it to Governor Bill Walker for his approval (or his veto).

[The live stream of the budget discussion can be viewed here.]

In the budget, the university outlines a variety of changes to compensate for the budget cuts being made to the University of Alaska system, as part of the new state budget passed in Juneau.

When the state budget was passed, many gave a sigh of relief to see that the university would not be seeing the $22 million cut that was being proposed by the senate.

However, in a statement, UA president Jim Johnsen said that while there was some relief, there would be "hard work ahead" in the coming days. This, as the university attempts to manage the roughly $8 million cut that would still be needed.

“This is not a time for high-fives,” Johnsen said. “This is more a time for relief because the cut could have been even deeper."

In order to accommodate the missing $8 million from last year's budget, the University Board of Reagents will vote on the proposed plan for the 2018 fiscal year.

In the budget outlined for approval on Tuesday, the board offered the following bullet points for adjusting compensation for employees both at the faculty and staff levels:

- UA Federation of Teachers (UAFT): previously negotiated contract increases
- Local 6070, United Academic Adjuncts (UNAD), and UA Federation of Teachers (UAFT): contracts terms contain no salary increases
- United Academics (UNAC): contract is under negotiation
- UA staff: no across-the-board salary increase

As for what the board views as its priorities in the upcoming fiscal years, they offered the following bullet points:

- Student Success (marketing, recruitment, retention, and degree completion)
- Research (grow capacity)
- Workforce & On-line Program Development (teacher education, health professions, eLearning initiatives)

In order to achieve the primary objective of improving student success, the board says it intends to employ "aggressive marketing, recruitment and retention programs to increase student enrollment."

Additionally, they hope to use "predictive analytics" and increase faculty collaboration and course program consistency in order to improve student experience and success.

UA regent Sheri Buretta said, "We need to make sure everyone realizes how important the university is to our communities and our state."

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