Dr. Richard Caulfield, Chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast, gives an update during a speech at the university on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Dr. Richard Caulfield, Chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast, gives an update during a speech at the university on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

UAS Live: Chancellor Caulfield speaks to UA Budget

Live updates from UAS Chancellor Caulfield’s forum at Egan Lecture Hall.

Times ahead will be difficult but Caulfield says he is an optimist and that he hopes that the university will come through will critical parts preserved and continue to be able to serve all of Alaska.

6:23 p.m.

Caulfield adds that all the Southeast legislators have been very helpful and the University appreciates it.

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, “don’t take the bait” and try to “feed on our neighbors” Don’t urge the chancellor to cut other’s programs because all knowledge is powerful. UA is a hundred years old and we can’t let it be destroyed because there is a grand benefit for intellectual pursuits, in and of themselves. Our only pathway forward is to stand together as Alaskans. “Sorry for the soapbox.”

Not seeing any more hands, the chancellor is making closing remarks, thanking everyone for attending.

6:18 p.m.

Programs that are offered here (at UAS) that aren’t offered at UAA or UAF, will they still be administered locally? Will programs only be offered system-wide?

There might be room for offering programs that aren’t offered elsewhere. As we go forward, what is distinctive about individual universities will need to be preserved. However, there may be ways to collaborate with faculty at other units that doesn’t happen now.

Rec center and Egan Library continue to be open?

Yes.

Tuition waivers for faculty and staff?

No plans to change that. It has been brought up but no serious discussion.

How soon can staff expect layoffs?

Difficult answer because of bill appropriation structure. Possible that some of those might come this fall. We’re spending money that we don’t really have. We’re spending at a level that is above our budget.

One percent cost of living increase (for staff) canceled?

Unfortunately yes. President was forced to take that off the table.

When can we expect a single accreditation model?

The president intends to move “expeditiously.” It’s going to take time though. UA will be working closely with the Northwest Commission, but it will take several years at least.

Individual culture here in SEA?

That’s one of our biggest challenges. Students are not a number at UAS. That close working relationship, internships and working in local business are not typically available for undergraduate students but because of UAS’s size, that’s something UAS can provide.

Those kinds of qualities need to be maintained even as they look at a single accreditation model.

Tuition?

Board of Regents had already approved a five percent increase for the coming year. The president did ask us to consider another ten percent increase for the spring semester, that has not yet been approved by the Regents. In other states where universities have faced funding challenges, raising tuition has been part of the solution.

Career and technical classes have had their prices lowered by 25 percent which has led to a rise in enrollment.

What’s your take on the attack on research? An attack on research is an indication of mindlessness (according to the speaker).

There are researchers and institutions across the world that look to UA, particularly Fairbanks, for Arctic research. OMB pointed to other universities which are able to fund their research. However UA doesn’t have many of those resources. State funding has been instrumental in UA’s research. For every dollar UA receives the state gets six dollars back. Caulfield says that he does not have a good answer to the speaker’s question, and he is skeptical of OMB’s suggestion for alternative funding.

Dr. Richard Caulfield, Chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast, takes questions during an update to budget changes during a speech at the university on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Dr. Richard Caulfield, Chancellor at the University of Alaska Southeast, takes questions during an update to budget changes during a speech at the university on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

How can we (the public) access the president’s plan?

A website is being developed, information about the task force groups including representatives from all three universities, as well as documents will be available.

Classes this fall?

We expect this fall to be “business as usual.” Alaska Performance Scholarship and other programs jeopardized by the sweep are no longer in danger.

Downsides to merging, loss of alumni support?

When the president put forward the plan the three chancellors felt that an alternative plan needed to be put forward. The chancellors put forward the “consortium” plan for this very reason. There are distinct identities and strong relationships that each University has with its community and alumni that the chancellors were keen to preserve. How do we continue to make those relationships possible is something Caulfield is going to be considering.

5:55 p.m.

He is now opening the floor to questions.

Caulfield says that he is very proud of what UAS does and he believes that the university is serving the region and is committed to continue to do so.

5:52 p.m.

Caulfield is saying that the idea of bringing the three independently accredited universities under one organization has been looked at before but that the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the body which give accreditation to Alaska’s universities, suggested against that due to the size of the state and the diversity of programs.

But the financial realities forced the regents to make that decision. On Monday the Regents directed UA President Jim Johnsen to begin making a plan for that transition which will be discussed at the next meeting in September.

What that would mean is rather than two schools of business administration, for example, there would be only one with one dean located in one of the communities throughout the state.

5:46 p.m.

The Regents met the representatives from the Office of Management and Budget who proposed a two year step-down approach that may would cut the $136 million over a greater period of time.

However, Caulfield said, that two-year approach did come with certain stipulations that might be difficult, “from the perspective of the Regents.”

However he said, the governor vetoed the legislature’s budget and the override failed. The university is waiting on approval of HB 2001.

5:40 p.m.

The university has been experiencing cuts for the past four or five years, he says, but that the massive cuts in unrestricted general funds were a shock.

He says that he was heartened by the public outpouring of support the university received in the wake of the announcements of cuts.

The legislature listened and put together a strong package restoring a large amount of funds, he says.

“We’re very excited and proud,” he says, of the work that’s being done at the university.

5:35 p.m.

Caulfield begins with thanking the audience for attending and says that he would like to work through some of the changes that are going to happen.

“We’re University of Alaska Southeast for a reason,” he says, saying that the history and purpose of this particular university has been to bring the region together.

UAS is open for business, we’re excited to welcome new students for our fall semester,” he says. He says that the focus is student success.

Caulfield says that he was present at admissions day which occurred earlier in July, and that the campus was a busy place full of activity.

5:30 p.m.

The chancellor has arrived and there are about two dozen people in the audience.

5:24 p.m.

University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor Richard Caulfield is hosting a forum Thursday evening to address the current budget situation at the University of Alaska.

On Tuesday the Board of Regents voted to consolidate the university system into a single accreditation model in order to reduce costs. Facing enormous amounts of cuts to the university budget, the Regents decided that the best course of action was to bring the three universities and their community college campuses under one administrative umbrella.

In a presentation to the Regents, university officials outlined what that might look like. Caulfield is expected to expand on what the reorganization of the university system means for students and faculty.


Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


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