The University of Alaska Board of Regents are holding a full meeting in Fairbanks today to discuss the university’s operating and capital budgets and further brace for potential budget cuts from the Legislature.
After a meeting of a conference committee on the state’s operating budget, members of the Alaska House and Senate appear to have agreed on cutting $5 million from the University of Alaska’s current state funding levels. If the amount remains unchanged, this will leave the university with $322 million coming from the state in fiscal 2020; a seemingly small amount compared with the significant amount of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed $134 million cut.
With a possible line-item veto on university funding from the governor, however, the Regents continue to discuss possible contingency plans to stay afloat should a larger-scale cut come down the pike.
Earlier this week, Regent Chairman John Davies announced the formation of a task force that will investigate possible structure changes to the university system. The options to be discussed include a potential consolidation of the University of Alaska from three accredited institutions in Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage to one single-accredited institution with three main campuses. This would allow the university to minimize administrative positions and reduce spending in that area.
The 11 members comprising the task force are one former and one current member of the board, Jo Heckman and Sheri Buretta, respectively; Tom Barrett of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., Aaron Schutt of Doyon Ltd. and Joe Beedle, former CEO of Northrim Bank, who will represent the private sector; Reggie Joule, a former legislator, mayor and current education lobbyist, will represent rural leadership; three retired UA faculty members — Terrence Cole of UAF, Cathy Connor of the University of Alaska Southeast and Gunnar Knapp of the University of Alaska Anchorage will represent academic interests; one former university executive, former UA Executive Vice President Wendy Redman; and one student, Joe Sweet of UAA.
Davies estimated the task force will begin work this summer, providing a preliminary update to the board in September.
Regents will also discuss updates on university finances and the university’s long-term Title IX overhaul.
The meeting begins at 8 a.m. in Room 109 of the Butrovich building on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.
The regents will accept in-person public testimony on any issue pertaining to the university beginning at 8:15 a.m. in the meeting room. A testimony sign-up sheet will be available beginning at 8 a.m.
Those interested can watch the meeting live at www.alaska.edu/bor/live.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics.