The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved its state funding request for the coming fiscal year Friday afternoon, setting out a $277 million operating budget request that stays in step with a funding reduction compact signed with Gov. Mike Dunleavy earlier this year.
Regents, meeting in Fairbanks, also approved a $52.5 million capital budget request.
Dunleavy and then-Regent Chair John Davies signed the compact in August that seeks to cut the university by $70 million over three years.
While the UA officials and Dunleavy agreed on the compact, the power of
appropriation still lies within the legislative branch of government, and some legislators feel that they were left out of the process of formulating the defunding agreement. A completely different funding level for the university could possibly show up in the Legislature’s budget proposal, which likely would trigger another budgetary confrontation with Dunleavy.
UA President Jim Johnsen noted the potential elements of uncertainty in his budget presentation.
“The Legislature sometimes meets in the same building and in the same city,” Johnsen said, digging at the Wasilla-Juneau session dispute this summer. “But they certainly don’t seem to be of one mind.”
The board had originally planned to vote on a proposed 5% tuition hike for the coming fall semester but unanimously agreed to postpone the vote until January after hefty student opposition.
Prior to beginning their meeting Friday morning, regents heard two hours of public testimony from students, staff, faculty and members of the public. Nearly every chair was filled in the Butrovich 109 conference room.
Many who testified expressed concerns over the planned tuition hike as well as frustrations with what they saw to be siloed governance.
Bernard Aoto, president of the University of Alaska Fairbanks student government, shared some of those concerns.
“We want to be heard, listened to and valued, not just by words but by actions,” Aoto said Friday morning.
The next full board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 17 in Anchorage.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Anchorage received the green light from UA President Jim Johnson, UAF Chancellor Daniel White and UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen at Friday’s UA Board of Regents meeting to continue with their individual athletic programs for the 2020-21 season.
The announcement follows the regent’s Oct. 7 meeting where they voted to table the idea of consolidating into a single-accredited university until 2021.
The future for both athletic programs after the 2020-21 season remains uncertain.
The schools were forced to consider the options of combining their athletic programs or ending their programs entirely after an August decision to reduce state funding to the university by $70 million over three years.
“We’re optimistic that we have the support of the Board of Regents to move forward with athletics into the future,” UAF Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Athletics Keith Champagne said, following Friday’s announcement.
At a future board meeting, the chancellors will give a report on the financial state of athletics at each university and the regents will vote on the future of athletics beyond 2020-21 season. The date for that meeting has not yet been set.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics. Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.