UA Board of Regents Meeting

UA President Jim Johnsen, left, listens to comments being made via videoconference during a special University of Alaska Board of Regents meeting to consider declaration of financial exigency Monday afternoon, July 15, 2019, in the UAF Butrovich Building. On July 22, 2019, university leadership declared exigency. The big question everyone is asking now is what will happen to the university system.

The University of Alaska Board of Regents will meet in Fairbanks today and Friday to continue discussions on structural changes, a possible tuition hike and the board’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal. 

As it stands right now, regents have proposed a total $832 million operating budget for fiscal 2021 which includes a $277 million state funding request; an amount that adheres to a recently signed budget-reduction agreement with Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Dunleavy, Regent Chair John Davies and UA President Jim Johnsen 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.

As recent financial injuries remain fresh with still more on the horizon for the university, the board also announced last week its plan to discuss a proposed tuition increase. No information on the rate of the possible hike has been released yet. In 2017 the board approved a 10% tuition increase split over two years, meaning if regents approve this new proposed tuition hike, it would be the third consecutive year of increases.

Thursday’s meeting will be largely centered around workshopping ideas for possible cost savings and structural changes for the university system. Following a recent warning shot from the university’s accreditation agency, the push for single accreditation is off the table, but individual campuses are still participating in program reviews, some of which may result in consolidations or elimination down the road. 

The regents will follow the workshop with budgetary discussions the next day.

Public testimony will be accepted from 8-9 a.m. Friday prior to the regent’s meeting in room 109 of the Butrovich building. A sign-up sheet for testimony will be available beginning at 7:45 a.m. Testimony will be limited to two minutes per person. 

Today’s and Friday’s meetings will be livestreamed at www.alaska.edu/bor/live.

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