University of Alaska-Budget Cuts

The University of Alaska Board of Regents meets in an emergency meeting July 22 in Anchorage. Regents voted 10-1 to declare a financial exigency, allowing administrators to expedite layoffs of tenured faculty in the face of severe budget issues. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)

University of Alaska administrators are seeking public input on a developing consolidation plan in response to a cut of approximately $135 million in state funding. 

In July, the UA Board of Regents declared financial exigency allowing the administration to send layoff notices to tenured faculty and enact budget-reduction measures in a more immediate manner than they would be able to otherwise.

Regents also approved a motion to allow UA President Jim Johnsen to work with faculty and other officials on developing a plan to consolidate the three separately accredited universities in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau into a single accredited university. Johnsen will present the plan to the regents at their next full board meeting Sept. 12-13 in Anchorage. 

Johnsen told the public in a video update Monday that planning kicks off this week and he will seek input from members of the university community and the public on the matter through a survey that has not yet been released.

“We’ve contracted with an expert surveyor, social scientist, to conduct a multistakeholder survey. So it’ll be available to faculty, staff, students and members of the community and alumni and our business partners,” Johnsen said. “To weigh in on their interests and what they think we ought to organize around as we build a new University of Alaska.”

The survey will likely be available to public by the end of the week or Monday at the latest, according to UA spokeswoman Robbie Graham, and a link will be provided to the public. 

The regents also will hold a public testimony call-in Sept. 9 to allow residents across the state to share their concerns on the matter. 

Interested individuals can call 866-726-0757 from 4-6 p.m. Sept. 9. Testimony will be limited to two minutes per person.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics.