Assembly hosts town hall to discuss UA restructuring

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly hosted a town hall exploring the effects - and local opinions - of the restructuring of the University of Alaska system on Thursday evening, as the university system faces tremendous challenges in the midst of budget cuts tallied at around $70 million thus far.

"It's really important that we get the community involved in what's going on," said Assembly Chair Felix Rivera.

The two-and-a-half-hour meeting at the Loussac Library attracted a small crowd, with most donning Seawolf green and gold.

Ahead of the gathering, university officials had already announced a revised timeline for changes ahead: In November, the board will decide on the new structure itself. Whatever path is chosen, the system will then transition over the course of next summer and then be operational with those changes in the fall, according to UA President Jim Johnsen.

"While certainly not ideal the situation improved dramatically," Johnsen said in a prerecorded video statement shown at the meeting. "We have to develop a strategic approach to our academic structure."

Nearly everyone who attended the meeting had ties to the University of Alaska Anchorage, as one speaker asked attendees to stand if they are students, faculty, staff, alumni, or friends or family of the former. All but a handful of people in the crowd were standing by the end.

"We're out here not being students in the summer so we can be students in the fall," said Alex Jorgensen, a UAA student and representative of the student body at the meeting, "but we have to comprehensively understand a restructuring of our entire university."

The Board of Regents will also hold telephonic public testimony from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 9. To participate, you may call (866) 726-0757 on that day. In-person testimony will also be taken beginning at 8:15 a.m. during the fall board meeting in Anchorage on Sept. 12.

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