City opposes University of Alaska Southeast absorption

Assembly votes to oppose possible merger.

City and Borough of Juneau Assembly opposes the potential absorption of University of Alaska Southeast into either University of Alaska Anchorage or University of Anchorage Fairbanks.

During a special meeting, CBJ Assembly unanimously passed a resolution objecting to any action that would eliminate UAS as a separate university. Such a move is being considered in light of revenue losses caused by COVID-19 and expected budget cuts.

[Regents have options to consider for University of Alaska restructuring]

“Suffice it to say University of Alaska Southeast is an important part of our civic community, ” said City Manager Rorie Watt during the virtual meeting, who recommended the Assembly pass the resolution, during the virtual meeting.

Assembly member Wade Bryson objected to a motion to approve the resolution to ask what would happen if UAS were to be absorbed. Bryson said his objection was solely to ask the question.

Mayor Beth Weldon said it would mean no chancellor for UAS and asked Watt if he was prepared to answer the question.

Watt said a lot of the particulars are unclear. He agreed it would mean the loss of a chancellor position and likely other positions, too. Additionally, Watt said it could hurt UAS’ attractiveness to students and continue the centralization of educational function to Anchorage or Fairbanks.

He said it would be a “significant blow” to UAS’ independence and economic standing.

Assembly member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, who is a UAS alumna, also spoke positively of UAS. She said her graduating class included police officers, firefighters and business owners.

“I wouldn’t be in Juneau without the university,” Hughes-Skandijs said. “It’s a real magnet to bring folks to Juneau,”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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