University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen, left, listens to Dr. Steve Atwater, Executive Dean of the university’s new Alaska College of Education, during an interview at the University of Alaska Southeast on Friday, August 3, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen, left, listens to Dr. Steve Atwater, Executive Dean of the university’s new Alaska College of Education, during an interview at the University of Alaska Southeast on Friday, August 3, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

University of Alaska officials expect major budget cuts

The university has already been hit with $195 million in cumulative cuts over the last five years

The University of Alaska is expecting Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration to make substantial slashes to university state funding, officials said.

The Republican governor’s amended state budget is set to be released next Wednesday and will then require the state Legislature’s approval.

The university “will likely be taking a huge cut” that could result in scaling back positions and class offerings, said Jim Johnsen, the university’s president.

“I’m extremely concerned about the possibility of another huge cut — you don’t absorb something like that,” Johnsen said. “We have been absorbing these cuts, making decisions, trimming here, cutting there, but if it’s a big number as it very well could possibly be, there’s no way to absorb that.”

The university has already been hit with $195 million in cumulative cuts over the last five years, leading to the university shedding more than 1,200 employees, he said. It had $378 million in state funding in 2014. The funding was at $327 million last year.

The board of regents has proposed a budget of $358.5 million for the university this year.

“We could not simply manage that in a status quo way,” Johnsen said. “We would have to stop doing things. So instead of having one person doing career advising, there’d be none. Instead of multiple numbers of fill in the blank academic majors, there would be one or none.”

This is an Associated Press report.

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