How effective are the University of Alaska Anchorage's academic programs and services?

According to two new prioritization reports, faculty and staff say some should get more investments while others should be reduced or even phased out.

Even though these detailed reviews are coming out as the statewide university system is experiencing a budget shortfall, UAA leaders say the findings have nothing to do with cuts. Because with every aspect of campus being looked at, this gives them a chance to see what's working, and what's not.

Focusing on the mission to discover and share knowledge gained from its institution, UAA asked some of its faculty and staff to review all of its 313 academic programs and 178 support functions that are conducted on campus. Using a template that put every program and function into five categories based on demand and success, an academic and a support task force determined if the programs should be considered high priorities, be put somewhere in the middle, or if they should be reduced or eliminated.

While enhancing the textbook process in the bookstore and programs like nursing and social work were top choices, the Wells Fargo Sports Complex's athletic facilities along with offering music and chemistry as majors were put in the bottom. An up close and personal look that the university says is not a ranking system or was done because of possible cuts.

"The categories, just give us a place to start to start thinking about what we need to do next," said Kristin DeSmith, who is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for university relations for UAA. "We have certificate programs where no one has been enrolled in them for several years, so this gives us a chance to say do we need this certificate program or not."

But with UAA coming off a year where it had to slash $7 million dollars, Professor Diane Hirshberg who was also on the task force says the reality for the future is in figuring out what programs are the most effective.

"Unfortunately in our fiscal climate we can't do everything here, so how well do programs actually demonstrate that they are aligned with our mission and our strategic plan and also how well do they talk about what they could do if they were given additional resources," said Hirshberg.

Resources that in the face of hard times that many feel need to be invested wisely. Although UAA campuses range from the Mat-Su to Kodiak, these prioritizations only covered the Anchorage campus.

UAA says in September it will visit and talk with programs that made the lower tier categories and will release implementation in the winter. Any academic changes will go into place by fiscal year 2016 but any service changes could come quicker.

Corey Allen-Young KTUU Channel 2 Reporter 744-2642 cell