UA president: More downsizing on the horizon

Jim Johnsen at a meet and greet in Juneau, July 7, 2015. Johnsen is a candidate for University of Alaska president. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)
Jim Johnsen at a meet and greet in Juneau, July 7, 2015. Johnsen is a candidate for University of Alaska president. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The process of downsizing the University of Alaska continues. Decreased state tax revenue because of low crude oil prices has resulted in less money for the university and there’s no sign of that changing. The focus of the university’s reorganization is shifting.

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The last two years have seen program and job reductions at individual University of Alaska campuses, and new UA President Jim Johnsen says the next round of cuts will have a more statewide focus.

“We’re going to look real hard at academic and administrative programs across the entire university system. So far, a lot of those reviews have taken place at the universities, and they have organized the reviews, and the analysis and the reductions. We’re going to step that up a bit and we’re going to look across the entire university system. We’re going to look at enrollments, we’re going to look at cost-effectiveness, we’re going to look at quality, we’re going to look at access. So there will be reorganization across the university system.”

Johnsen says the goal is to deliver top notch programs while cutting costs, and that will likely mean consolidation of some programs.

“I believe we’ll always have ‘Program X’ in Alaska, it just may not be at three campuses, it may not be at five campuses, however. So we have to do a hard look at those kinds of things across the state.”

Johnsen says that unfortunately will also mean more job losses.

“But my commitment to the people of the university of Alaska is that we will have transparent processes for making these decisions. We will be inclusive. We’re not hiding anything. We’re going to let people know. We’re going to be up front with what we’re doing.”

Johnsen would not put a timeline on the next round of cuts, but says the downsizing analysis is already underway. He adds that cutting isn’t the only focus, and also highlights a new fundraising effort to reach beyond corporate donors to individual citizens, including alumni,  for support.