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University President Says Alaska Needs UA More Than Ever

Mar 28, 2019 | Monitor

Invokes the spirit and vision of Constitution’s authors

FAIRBANKS—University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen delivered his annual State of the University address telling a statewide audience that the university is strong, successful and is the cornerstone of Alaska’s future.

“There is no other cornerstone in this state more robust than the University of Alaska in creating success for our state – from its earliest days as a territory, through the fight for statehood, through our hard economic times and now as we fight for our very future,” he said.

Johnsen addressed the cut to the university’s state funding saying: “We face a proposed budget cut of $134 million, or 41 percent of our state funding, and that cut is on top of state funding cuts in four out of the last five years, resulting in program reductions and the loss of more than 1,200 faculty and staff. These cuts hurt UA and they harm Alaska’s ability to grow the highly trained workforce we need to be economically competitive with other states.”

For your convenience, the video of Johnsen’s address can be viewed below.

The full text of the address is also available here.

“In an attempt to justify the proposed budget cut to our state funding, we hear that UA is below average in our cost effectiveness, in our tuition, in our completion rates, and in our philanthropy. To critics who throw averages around, I ask you is there anything about Alaska that is average? Averages are not very inspirational, are they?”

“You’ve also heard or read that critics say the university is failing. But I say we are UAStrong! And we are succeeding! And our fellow Alaskans agree. Across the state, Alaskans say UA is very important to the future of the Alaska economy; they agree that funding for the university is an investment in our future and is a good or excellent value for the money.”

Johnsen, who was introduced by Doyon Ltd. CEO Aaron Schutt, offered multiple examples of UA’s success from its 100,000 alumni who left the university with more skills, knowledge, and abilities than when they arrived to the UA students interning in legislative offices in Juneau, with the support of the Senator Ted Stevens Foundation.”

“As I stand before you today,” he said, “our state needs UA more than ever. The university is an investment in our future and is a good or excellent value for the money.”

The vision for our university is only possible if we think more like the founders of our state and our university, who focused a lot less on “me now” and more on all Alaskans and what the future Alaska would look like.”

“So, as we assess the state of the University of Alaska in 2019, and make decisions about its future, let us do so through the prism of that Alaska we all want—a state with a strong and sustainable economy offering opportunity for meaningful work; a state that welcomes and supports a free people from whatever background they come; a state full of vibrant communities; and, a state that embraces knowledge and a respect for those who want to do better. “

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