University President Johnsen will begin crafting a plan to move the University of Alaska towards a single institution. The Board of Regents will meet again in mid-September.
Motion to authorize the President Johnsen with the help of the sub-committee to create an alternative administrative structure, reduce duplicative services, preparing a plan to move to a single accredidation university and to consult with student representatives.
8 yeas, 3 nays.
Chair Davies says that they are approving a process to create a plan and that plan will include student consultation.
Garrett calls the student representative to speak to the motion. He says the identity of each university is vastly different and moving towards a single accreditation university takes away from the geographic representation the different universities represent.
Board votes to take Hughes amendment off the table so it can be amended.
Hughes adds an amendment to her previous motion.
Board votes on the motion, 8 yeas, 2 nays. The motion is tabled.
Hostina says that Teuber’s motion to table takes precedent over the call to question.
Motion for President Johnsen to work on consortium model while continuing to work on single university model.
Teuber asks motion to be tabled. There is debate over whether he is able to do that. General Counsel Hostina calls a break so that he can review the rules.
Parker says that she made the motion to move forward with the consortium model because she feels it is the best option and that the one university model will create duplicate model. (President Johnsen is shaking his head during Parker’s speech.)
Teuber asks Chair Davies what the nature of the sub-committee he formed is. Davies says that the committee is formed to be a sounding board for the president as he works on a plan.
Hargraves asks where this single institution model comes from. President Johnsen says that the idea had been around when he came into his position but that he cannot pin-point an exact time.
Board takes five minute break to work on a motion.
O’Neill says that she cannot in good faith vote for the motion for a consortium because there is not yet enough information about what the impacts might be. She says that she would be more comfortable with directing the chancellors to work with President Johnsen to make further cuts and work towards consolidating into a single university at a further date.
President Johnsen says that the conversation with the Northwest Commission suggested that accreditation of one of the universities be used as a “scaffold” to create a new system. Johnsen says that this model would save time and money as well as be able to provide student access. Johnsen refers to slide 32 of the presentation.
Garrett says that people are not ready for the change.
Teuber says he supports the motion because the regents tasked the chancellors with finding a way to produce the cuts necessary and the chancellors have suggested the consortium model.
Anderson says that while the chancellors have the knowledge and the expertise but they don’t have the money. They have a fiduciary responsibility to the state of Alaska to provide a university. He expresses deep skepticism that the three universities will be able to work together.
Garrett says that the majority of the emails received have advocated for preserving the three universities and that the Regents should come back in September with a clearer understanding of the financial situation.
Regent Parker introduces a motion to direct University President Johnsen to begin working on implementing the consortium model; one university – multiple campuses. She says it will be hard for everybody but this model will be the best to meet the university’s needs under the current circumstances.
UAF Chancellor White is saying that his university’s accreditation is up for review in September and that the accreditors need to know what kind of university they’re going to be looking at.
Garrett is saying that students are facing a lot of uncertainty around accreditation and whether or not the program they’ve invested in will be accredited in the future.
Teuber gets clarification that the governor’s office will be cutting roughly $90 million rather than the $130 million stated earlier. Barnhill is called back to the session for clarification of budget issues.
Barnhill says that he cannot answer as to what the governor will or will not do.
The question is over how the reductions will be made to the university, over what amount of time and to which universities. Teuber says that the governor’s concern about “outcomes” are not clear.
Barnhill says that he believes that the governor’s concern are concerning graduation rates, which he says are below similar universities in other states.
Anderson says there is an opportunity to “reset” and when an organization has the opportunity fear is one of the main emotions. But, Anderson says, a more optimistic tone would better serve the university.
Hughes says they should look again at the constitution because they are responsible for the university and the president is the CEO and that “abdicating” authority to any other body wouldn’t be the right thing to do.
Johnsen says that the state’s suggestion that private money can fill certain gaps in funding is questionable. He says also that the governor’s budget shows an “over-reliance” on contractual reductions and one-time sales of land in a down market.
There is some debate on how much money could be potentially put back by the governor’s office. There seems to be some difference in numbers listed on various documents.
Parker is now addressing what might a single university look like.
Parker asks when the university will see the savings from a particular choice. Johnsen replies that cuts must be made regardless of choice. Parker adds that time and money is needed for a transition, where is the money going to come from?
Johnsen says that the Northwest Commission has recommended altering a current institution’s accreditation rather than creating a new one from whole cloth, which will save a lot of time and money.
Johnson is now looking at the comparative chart on page 26.
Johnsen is now looking at page 23 of the presentation, One New UA – Multiple Locations.
Johnsen says that the consolidation of administrative and academic services would provide advantages to students, many of whom take courses at multiple universities.
Johnsen says also that this model may provide benefits for research and student collaboration.
He says the Northwest Commission (the accreditation body) has a preference for this model, and that they would be willing to expedite this process.
He says that he is sympathetic to the loss of individual identity and local mission, and that there will be a need to be “very intentional” in each location’s relationship to local communities.
President Johnsen is discussing page 18, and says that there are a number of staff reductions that would be made but that is “TBD” (to be determined) based on which re-organization decision is made.
UAS Chancellor Richard Caulfield is explaining page 17 of the presentation.
Caulfield says that reduction in staff and classes, as well as reduction to the Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan campuses would help UAS reach a reduction in roughly $10 million.
Chancellor Daniel White of UAF is discussing page 16 of the presentation document.
He says that one of the cuts the university is looking at is reducing the work week to 37 1/2 hours.
Hargraves asks about campus maintenance, whether it’s contracted or university personnel. President Johnsen says it’s a combination of both and that each campus is responsible for its own facilities.
Hargraves asks if the Regents took no action how much of these cuts could be made. Sandeen says all of it. Hargraves says it seems to him that all of these expenses seem to be administration, and not so much procedural.
Chair Davies asks each chancellor to take about five minutes each to explain their numbers.
Chair Sandeen goes first, using slide 15 as a reference. She is walking the board through the cuts. She says that using the consortium model they would be able to make more cuts to administration and possibly academic programming.
Meeting takes a 10 minute break.
Chair Davies says that he finds that the reduction to certain research funds to be “reckless” and that research can’t be shut down even in one or two years. “We’re not going to run bake sales,” to fund research Davies says. He says also that the University Museum is a collection of “priceless” artifacts that are studied by researchers across the world. It took 75 years to build, Davies said, it can’t be shut down overnight.
Davies also tells a story of when seismology research saved lives during a volcanic eruption, and that is a long-term project that cannot be shut down.
Davies suggest that the Regents come back to OMB in the fall with a multi-year step-down approach. He says that they’re on the same page regarding the need for funding cuts but the rate and speed at which OMB is suggesting making those cuts is unacceptable.
Barnhill says that the fiscal reality of the state leaves no other option, but he welcomes further discussion. He says also that representatives from the Regents and possibly one of the chancellors be present during future OMB discussions.
President Johnsen says that the Regents that will be looking at outside funding sources, including donations and philanthropic efforts. However he says that those efforts will not produce the same level of funding the university previously enjoyed.
The Board is discussing how funds can or cannot be moved from one institution or kind of institution (i.e. university to community college). In some cases funds can be moved but with certain stipulations.
Perdue is asking about the research funding. She asks if Barnhill can explain a $15 million amount listed on the document for the UAF.
Barnhill says that it appears that research funding outside of UAF is roughly $15 million. Perdue says that without that money researchers have told her they would not be able to access larger sources of funding, roughly $100 million. She invites Barnhill come to UAF and speak with researchers.
Barnhill replies that he understands there are issues with federal match dollars but there are possibilities that can be explored in order to maintain the level of research at UAF.
Chair Davies asks if the “proviso” on the document is more of a dictate about how the university must allocate its funds.
Barnhill said he should have used the word “concern” and accepts responsibility for that misunderstanding.
Barnhill says that in his quest to find the cost drivers in UA are in UA Fairbanks. He says they need to look administration costs that can be cut. He adds that he understands there are reasons why Fairbanks has higher costs and that those issues will be taken into account.
Office of Management and Budget Policy Director Mike Barnhill is giving opening remarks to the Board of Regents.
Barnhill says that the administration overhead is far too high a portion of the university’s budget. Roughly 45 percent.
The overhead costs document being discussed by Barnhill can be found here.
Barnhill says that these numbers are based on numbers that were given to him by the university and that there are certainly caveats to be taken into account.
Gov. Dunleavy says that the University of Alaska is an integral part of the state, and that as a graduate of the University he has nothing but respect for the University of Alaska.
We have a fiscal problem, some of us of living with the belief that oil is still $85 a barrel, he says. The university has been a beneficiary of extensive funding over the years.
The governor says that he has been in conversation with university leaders over the past weeks about how to achieve a step-down approach that can get the university “where it needs to be, funding wise.”
He says that they don’t always look at the outcomes, outcomes in terms of research and student outcomes haven’t been what they should be, Dunleavy says.
He says that this is an opportunity to increase the university’s outcomes while reducing overhead.
Gov. Dunleavy is on the line with the Board of Regents.
Meeting is coming back to order. Governor’s office is on the line.
The meeting is adjourned until noon, when the governor’s office is supposed to call in.
Regent Mary Hughes says that while certain areas, like Title IX, can be reduced they’re not going to go away.
Bania asks if the core commitments included ways that the universities might increase funding without relying on the state. Sandeen replies that options have been explored including donor support and charging for university services.
The Board votes to extend the meeting until 4 p.m. 9 yeas, 1 nay.
Chair Davies asks the board if they’re willing to extend the meeting into the afternoon.
Regent Parker suggests taking a vote on extending the meeting until 4 p.m.
General Counsel Michael Hostina points out that with three accredited universities there needs to be duplicative services (three Title IX co-ordinators, for example). He understands that if limited resources services are spread more thinly over a large area but there are legal and regulatory concerns that need to be taken into account.
Perdue asks Sandeen about her experience with consolidation of universities. She says that she understands that there are real issues with changing the structure but the lack of money is a very serious issue that must be confronted. The real question is “what kind of a hole are we in?”
Caulfield replies that the chancellors understand that “the house is on fire,” but that moving to a single accreditationmodel has significant downsides. The chancellors have been looking at how to make significant cuts but maintaining what is best for students.
Parker asks ‘why now?’ echoing Anderson’s question. Why are the chancellors working together now unlike in the past.
Chancellor White replies that the university can no longer exist without doing so. He points to a past instance of competitive co-operation regarding e-learning.
Regent Dale Anderson asks if it is truly possible to get the campuses to co-operate. He says he has served as a regent for a long time and getting the campuses to work together has been very difficult. He asks also if the universities have been moving more towards online campuses.
Caulfield said that many students do take advantage of online courses but for many first-time students, first-generation students, online courses can be very difficult. Sandeen adds that for first-time students that may not be used to college level work, face-to-face and in-person support is crucial in the beginning but those students can transition to online later.
Garrett asks if the consortium model is the easiest to reverse if the legislature were to reverse some of the funding cuts. Sandeen replies that it would be.
Hargraves asks if each university has its own lawyer, Sandeen replies they do not, and that perhaps hiring a local firm might be the best option moving forward.
Sandeen says she is not trying to be adversarial but she and her colleagues were under the impression that they would be presenting on President Johnsen’s plan of maintaining the universities.
She says that local administration is more responsive and that reducing administration to a single, statewide office can cause costs in itself.
Sandeen says that there will be local cuts. At UAA she says, there have already been $500,000 in administrative costs, not including the large number of people who have left voluntarily.
Hargraves asks if there will be significant administration reductions at the local campus level.
Regent Sheri Buretta says she will have to leave soon but that she suggests looking at alternative administration structures.
Caulfield says the consortium model will require a leaner statewide office and common academic focus.
Regent Parker asks if the consortium model doesn’t reduce the bureaucracy enough, but Sandeen replies that each chancellor’s budget includes a significant reduction in administration. Sandeen says that local administration actually cuts down on bureaucratic costs because local administration is more agile and responsive.
UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield says that many of the students in Alaska are already “non-traditional” meaning they’re not the typical age, 18-24, they don’t live in dorms, etc. The consortium model allows for different delivery methods, both online courses and face-to-face options, although in reduced numbers.
Regent Parker asks Sandeen’s fellow chancellors if they agree with the UAA chancellor’s assessment.
Regent Bania asks if this model allows for healthy competition, the kind that drives innovation and productivity.
UAF Chancellor Daniel White says that the chancellors came up with the word “coorpertition” to describe the relationship.
Sandeen says that the universities at this point do not really compete for students, but there is some competition amongst the faculty for grants and things like this.
Sandeen says that the changes can begin as soon as tomorrow, and that the three chancellors and other administrators have already been discussing how the universities can work together.
She says that the consortium model is similar to the existing system.
Regent Parker asks how this model differs from today.
Sandeen is saying that this model allows for maintaining a system students are familiar with while reducing administration cost by consolidating the bureaucracy.
UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen is giving information on the Consortium option, she listed a number of examples in other states, including the Claremont Colleges in California.
The board is looking at page 20 of the presentation.
The chancellors for each university will answer questions and give presentation about the needs and status of each institution.
The board is currently discussing page 14 of the presentation.
The board just voted on a motion that would table changing the structure of the university in order to have further conversation about the details of restructuring.
The regents are currently considering a motion to adopt one of the two options put forward in the presentation.
Option one: Current UA/Proportional Cuts – a risk/benefit analysis can be found on page 19 of the presentation.
Option two: One New UA – Multiple Locations – risk/benefits analysis can be found on page 24 of the presentation.
A third option, An Integrated UA Consortium, can be found on page 20.
A letter from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the body recognized by the US Department of Education which accredits universities in the Northwest, regarding issues with accreditation that the different options for reorganization present, can be found here.
The meeting is currently taking a ten-minute break.
Regent Lisa Parker says she would like to see written information on the two options before there is a vote, she has a lot of questions and would like to have a dialogue with the student alliance and chancellor.
President Johnsen says that slide 26 compares to two options currently being considered.
Regent Andy Teuber is saying that providing the most access to the universities and education is the most important thing. He says that access to education is one of the greatest determiners of human life and health. He says that more data is needed before a final decision is made.
Chair Davies says that when he thinks of a university as providing teaching, research, and public service and would like to add that longer view, that in order to truly research something it takes time to collect data and material and years to study those things. Whatever they do, that commitment to long-term research should be maintained.
O’Neill says that creativity and entrepreneurship are best fostered by three universities and that option should be considered a priority moving forward.
The regents are looking at page 36 of the slide show presentation made for this meeting.
What does a “seamless student experience” mean? asks Regent John Bania.
Regent Darroll Hargraves, asks if graduate students working on a dissertation might have their department closed down around them. He is told that no, the university has a “teach out” obligation, that the university will make an accommodation to allow currently enrolled graduate students finish their degree.
Hargraves is expressing a deep fondness for the University Museum. He notes that things can become quite personal when programs reach the chopping block. He asks that people understand that its not people are not closing things down, it’s a lack of revenue and he asks that people be sympathetic to the demands made on people by the current situation.
Hargraves asks about the status of community colleges, and notes that at one time certain members of the university “took exception” to the idea of a community college. Is it time to break community colleges off and re-examining a 1962 law which made those colleges a partnership between local school districts and those institutions.
Johnsen says that each of the community colleges are currently tied to their local university, this is largely because in Alaska there is not enough local funding to maintain local community colleges on their own.
Regent Sheri Buretta says she agrees that the students be a priority, that as they re-envision the school they teach the history of the university and the state, and that the community is stronger than the individual. The state and the university are strong because the people of Alaska came together to make it that way, which is a tradition that should be maintained.
The process will be challenging but it will make the university stronger.
Regent Gloria O’Neill, says that in reading thousands of emails she has thought about the university’s values. In a time of crisis you always put your values first, she says. We have to be student centered, she says. We have an opportunity to make the systems more efficient and lessen bureaucracy. She says that they also have to consider “relevancy,” and what courses will allow students to take jobs within the state and anywhere they are in the world.
How do we make all these tough decisions while keeping the students at the center, she asks.
Regent Karen Perdue says that part of the university was started in an effort to “study the place that we live,” and that they should seek to support that mission moving forward.
Regent Dale Anderson says that the student is the most important person. The student is the client, Anderson says.
Regent Cachet Garrett says that the students should be listened to, she asks if there is a student in the audience that would like to comment. Chair Davies says that this is a discussion for the Regents and that the students will be questioned later.
Garrett says that the students should be involved in the decision making process.
Johnsen says that in his view, “the house is on fire,” following with his house analogy he says that when looking to remodel, you have to know how many rooms you can afford.
He says that if there are multiple accredited universities, as there are now, that means that there must be multiple, duplicative, administrations and that under the current circumstances of scarce resources, that may no longer be possible.
He says that it is in the best interest of the university, faculty and students to act quickly.
University President Jim Johnsen is making a speech about the challenges the University is facing, and what its mission will be moving forward. He says that the current situation is “unprecedented.”
He says that this year’s budget is 41 percent below what it was last year. He says that the legislature has restored much needed funding and hopefully the governor will not veto those funds.
Board of Regents Chair John Davies has made introductions, and has explained some of what the University of Alaska is facing.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents are meeting today in Anchorage with teleconference participation throughout the state. The Regents meeting can be livestreamed here. The meeting will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 30.
Governor Mike Dunleavy and the Office of Management and Budget announced the levels of budget reductions for the coming fiscal year.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or email@example.com.