The president of the University of Alaska says Alaska has the lowest college going rate of any state

UA President Jim Johnsen

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaska has the lowest college going rate of any other state.

That was one major take-away Dr. Jim Johnsen, the president of the University of Alaska told the Anchorage Downtown Rotary Tuesday afternoon.

"How we fix that is really, probably, the single most important issue, and that has to do with collaborating with the K-12 sector, so we have some really strong dual enrollment," Johnsen said.

He also told the crowd the university has more than a billion dollars in deferred maintenance, and that there are high facility costs. In an interview he also spoke low morale as budget cuts have continued to impact the university, which led to layoffs.

Johnsen says that in the past four years the university has laid off 1,200 people.

"I'd say it's hopeful," Johnsen said about the feelings of university employees, "but morale is down. I can't beat around that bush, we've taken cuts. Four out of the last five years, and even the best case right now in Juneau, I would say we're taking five years of cuts out of the last six years. So it's a lot of money. It's a very negative impact."

But, he also talked about new patents created from researchers with the university.

"We continue to lead the world in research on Arctic subjects," Johnsen said. "Our retention rates of out students is increasing. So I think there is some real positive signs there."

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