The Entrance to the University of Alaska Southeast. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Entrance to the University of Alaska Southeast. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

University of Alaska regents reject consolidation plan

Consolidation not in the best interest of the University at this time, Regents say

The University of Alaska Board of Regents has officially rejected a proposal backed by the Legislature to consolidate the state’s three separately accredited universities into one, officials said.

The board sent a letter to the Alaska Legislative Finance Division announcing its decision, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Wednesday.

The board supports maintaining three separate universities under the larger University of Alaska system, regents Chair Sherri Buretta said in the letter.

The board plans to stick with that position until the University of Alaska Fairbanks secures accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities for 2021, Buretta said.

Buretta defended the decision to forge ahead as multiple universities, saying the regents board seriously considered consolidation but decided it was not in the best interest of the university system at this time.

“The board is still aggressively pursuing other means to reduce costs and increase efficiency, including consolidation of administrative functions across the system, clarification of roles and responsibilities between the BOR and the universities,” the letter said.

The letter responds to language included in the Legislature’s operating budget directing the regents to “consider a plan to transition the University of Alaska from three separately accredited academic institutions into a single accredited institution with multiple community campuses.”

The directive also required the regents to report to the Legislature regarding studies and decisions on the issue by the beginning of December.

“If the BOR chooses to actively consider single accreditation in the future, it will direct the president by formal action to do so and will include in that direction the requirement of an independent cost benefit analysis,” Buretta wrote.

• This is an Associated Press report.

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