The University of Alaska Anchorage Faculty Senate has written a letter citing a lack of confidence in University President Jim Johnsen’s leadership as well as the draft of a resolution recommending his suspension.
The letter, which was written to the Board of Regents, outlines various concerns, notably stating the ongoing administrative consolidation and expedited academic review violates Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities standards. The NWCCU is the body that controls the university’s accreditation.
“Faculty repeatedly raised accreditation concerns associated with consolidation as the discussion moved from the consolidation of UAF, UAA, and UAS Colleges of Education to the discussion concerning single accreditation. Faculty have consistently asked for cost-benefit analysis of these massive changes and yet none have been forthcoming,” the letter reads.
The letter further notes a 2016 study on consolidating to single accreditation conducted by former UAF Chancellor Dana Thomas, which the Faculty Senate states indicated minimal cost savings, while Johnsen’s argument for consolidation “continues to rest on the need to find cost savings and and save money.”
The resolution attached to the letter, which requests Johnsen’s suspension, is set to be considered at the UAA Faculty Senate meeting on Oct. 4.
The communication from UAA comes two days after a letter from the the accrediting organization calling for UA entities to work together amid concerns over the budget. The letter from the accrediting body followed the publication of a February memo from Johnsen that told chancellors that communications on budget issues “must be coordinated, must respect and preserve the Board’s prerogatives, and thus must be reviewed and approved by the president.”
An opinion column by former UA Chancellors Lee Gorsuch, Fran Ulmer, Tom Case, Sam Gingerich, Mike Powers, Brian Rogers and John Pugh, and published Thursday in the Daily News-Miner, cited concerns over Johnsen's memo.
"Any actions that prevent the chancellors from fulfilling their responsibilities as CEOs of their respective institutions put the entire UA system at risk," the column reads.
“Here are two examples: President Johnsen instructing the chancellors to comply with direction from him, and him stating that he is meeting with NWCCU staff to discuss the accreditation without the chancellors, the very people who actually manage those three universities.”
University system spokeswoman Robbie Graham said she was not able to provide a response until Friday.
The Board of Regents is holding an emergency meeting on Monday.
Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her on Twitter at: twitter.com/FDNMlocal