ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Earlier this month, a presentation by the University of Alaska, Board of Regents' Audit Committee revealed an even larger budget gap than what was anticipated when a $70 million cut over 3 years was taken from the school's operating budget by the Dunleavy administration.
By fiscal year 2022, the university could be operating at a deficit of up to $40 million dollars. Campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau were asked to carry out an independent program review at the beginning of 2020, resulting in the loss of various courses and degree offerings at each school. Now, the Board of Regents will be tasked with revisiting other options that have been discussed over the course of the last year.
While the chancellors at all three campuses have spoken against single accreditation models in the past, the suggestion to merge UAS into either UAA or UAF has been presented for preliminary review by the Board.
Other possible cost-cutting measures include merging duplicative academic units, developing a statewide e-learning plan and allowing different tuition rates at each campus.
In a statement posted to the University of Alaska's webpage President Jim Johnsen clarified that the considerations presented are not necessarily suggested courses of action:
"I do not plan to make recommendations on these options to the Board during its meeting, June 4-5. Rather, I will present the results of our preliminary reviews and take direction from the Board on any further consideration," Johnsen said.
The board's current chair, Regent Sherri Burretta told KTUU that the impact of COVID-19 is making things even tougher for the board. Regents anticipated that they would see more relief funding through the state's Cares Act funding than they actually received.
"We need to look at big ways to make changes to the university," Burretta said. "Since 2014, we have seen regular cuts to our university, so it's a normal process, but for the last three years, they have had a huge impact."
At the June 4-5 meeting, the regents must pass an operating budget for FY21.
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