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UA Board of Regents Approves Changes to Academic Programs and Major Cuts to Administration

Jun 8, 2020 | Education, News

The University of Alaska Board of Regents dedicated the second day of its two-day meeting to addressing budget challenges faced by the UA system and transformational change, including voting to reduce academic programs, approving administrative cuts, restructuring debt and funding scholarships from the Natural Resources Fund.

The university’s budget has been impacted by a number of factors, most notably state funding cuts since 2015, enrollment decline since 2011, and the fiscal impact of COVID-19. In response, UA will not pay $6.5 million in planned pay raises, will institute pay cuts for 166 executives through mandatory furloughs, and cut millions in systemwide administrative costs.

Of the $33 million in FY21 budget reductions, more than $4 million is in academics program reductions and $29 million is in administration and other areas.

Regents recognized that significant reductions also have been made to university expenses since FY14. Between FY14 and FY20 general fund budgets have been reduced at, UAA by 19.4 percent, UAF by 18.3 percent, UAS by 23.3 percent and Statewide by 29.8 percent. Those reductions have already resulted in an employee headcount reduction of more than 1,700 employees.

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The board honored and passed resolutions for three retiring executives — UAS Chancellor Emeritus Rick Caulfield, UA Foundation President Susan Foley and General Counsel Emeritus Michael Hostina — and celebrated three staff members for excellence in student support– a highlight of today’s meeting.

Each year the president recognizes the contributions university staff make to students’ success through the Staff Make Students Count Award. This year’s award recipients are:

  • UAA – Caroline Venuti, the Learning Resource Center Coordinator and writing tutor on the Kachemak Bay Campus of KPC, as well as the advisor for the KBC Student Association.
  • UAF – Carol Hoefler, the administrative assistant for the Art Department, where she assists both graduate and undergraduate art students.
  • UAS – Louis Scott, the Title III Academic Advisor, who provides student advising and math tutoring on the Ketchikan campus.

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Each of these extraordinary staff members shared their passion and dedication to the University of Alaska in telling the story behind their service to students and the values that guide them. It was a positive start to an otherwise challenging day of tough discussions.

On academic programs, the board voted to reduce, discontinue, rename or merge 45 academic programs, and agreed to postpone action on two programs — the Masters of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy in Atmospheric Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks — for consideration in January. The board also approved the establishment of two new academic programs; the Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts at University of Alaska Southeast and the Undergraduate Certificate in Local Knowledge Educator at University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The eliminated programs will impact almost 700 students, 30 faculty and staff, and save close to $4 million. To fulfill the university’s commitment to students and to meet accreditation requirements, each affected student will work with faculty and staff to design an individualized multi-year “teach-out” plan for completing their academic program.

Regent Karen Perdue, who chairs the committee that oversaw the academic review process, said: “The choices are difficult. Hard questions have been asked and refinements have been made. This represents the largest number of program reductions completed by UA in recent memory. It reflects the tough financial times we are in.”

Regents heard a report from Chief IT Officer Mark Kondrak on Enterprise Digital Transformation an initiative focused on improved student experience, operational agility and efficiency, workforce productivity  through digital technology and data-driven systems and processes.

Mary Gower, Chief Equity and Compliance Officer, updated the board on recent, major developments in the rules adopted by the federal government that universities use to comply with Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

Programs Approved for Discontinuation

  • Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Resources at the University of Alaska Southeast
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Legal Nurse Consultant Paralegal at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Civic Engagement at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Administration at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Administration at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Associate of Applied Science in Welding and Nondestructive Testing at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Associate of Applied Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Operations at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literary Arts at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Master of Arts in English at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Master of Education in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Sociology at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Bachelor of Arts in Theatre at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Programs Previously Suspended at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
    • Master of Science in Water and Environment Science
    • Undergraduate Certificate in Safety, Health and Environmental Awareness Technology
    • Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry
    • Master of Arts in Chemistry
    • Master of Science in Biochemistry
    • Master of Science in Environmental Chemistry
    • Master of Science in Resource and Applied Economics
    • Undergraduate Certificate in Mining Applications and Technologies
    • Master of Science in Computational Physics
    • Master of Science in Space Physics
    • Undergraduate Certificate in Power Generation
    • Associate of Applied Science in Renewable Resources
    • Undergraduate Certificate in Veterinary Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Bachelor of Science in Sociology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Master of Education in Online Innovation and Design at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Master of Education in People, Place and Pedagogy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Master of Education in Second Language Acquisition, Bilingual Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Bachelor of Arts in Earth Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Bachelor of Arts in Geography at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Bachelor of Science in Geography at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Undergraduate Certificate of Environmental Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Undergraduate Certificate of Ethnobotany at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Bachelor of Science in Environment and Society at the University of Alaska Anchorage

Programs approved for major revision and reduction

  • Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Geological Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Bachelor of Arts in Dual Languages Option (Secondary Language Selection in Chinese) at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Public Communication at the University of Alaska Anchorage

Approved program name change

  • Bachelor of Arts in Geography, Environmental and Outdoor Studies to the Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast

New program and program merger approvals

  • Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alaska Southeast
  • Merging the Associate of Applied Science in Computer and Networking Technology with the Associate of Applied Science in Computer Systems Technology, and renaming as the Associate of Applied Science in Computer Systems and Network Technology at the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Approval of the Undergraduate Certificate in Local Knowledge Educator at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Postponed consideration until January 2021

  • Master of Science in Atmospheric Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Doctorate of Philosophy in Atmospheric Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
Alaska Business Magazine December 2020 Cover

In This Issue

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December 2020

The novel coronavirus pandemic has required healthcare professional to take a long, hard look at our healthcare systems to determine what’s helping—and what’s hindering—their ability to deliver care. Alaska's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink, provides her insights on how Alaska needs to move forward.

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