UA Regents push back vote on exigency declaration

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen speaks before the Board of Regents on July 15th.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - At Monday's Board of Regents meeting in Fairbanks, a 10-1 vote resulted in tabling the decision over whether the University of Alaska should declare financial exigency.

Financial exigency would be similar to bankruptcy and would ultimately allow the university to reduce its staff size and course list in an expedited manor, regardless of tenure.

Cuts to the portion of UA's budget that were provided by the state have been slashed by 41%, leaving the university in a monthly deficit as FY2020 begins.

A formal vote will now take place in Anchorage on July 30. University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen didn't mince words about the time-sensitive nature of the vote. Slides presented to the board during the meeting project a monthly debt accrual of $11 million as long as UA operates at its current capacity. Another slide detailed the fact that a delay of 6 months would ultimately translate into the need to eliminate nearly double the amount of programs as it would if exigency were declared immediately.

Most of the regents remained cautious to make a decision without further considerations -- the only vote against a delay came from Mary Hughes of Anchorage.

Regent Darroll Hargraves acknowledged the cost of patience, but pointed out that a delay of only 15 more days would give the board time to further discuss the possibility of declaring exigency while awaiting potential changes from the legislature or the governor's office.

The board will also discuss the future of the university when they reconvene in Anchorage at the end of the month. During Monday's meeting, three separate options for maintaining UA and meeting budget constraints were offered:

-The first calls for the possible elimination of one or more universities or campuses.

-The second would see these facilities remain intact, but operating in reduced capacities that are considered manageable under the new budget.

-Lastly, regents will consider consolidating the UA system into a single, accredited entity with no duplicated services or course offerings.

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