To the editor: The One University of Alaska model approved this week by the board of regents strikes me as likely leading to the following:
1. A single university “serving all Alaskans” will have to be open enrollment at the undergraduate level with minimal academic standards. Alaska’s best and brightest will have no viable in-state alternative to even mid-range, never mind elite, out-of-state major universities; they will leave.
2. Item No. 1 will make UA a glorified city commuter college. Because Anchorage is the largest city, I expect Fairbanks and Juneau to end up as minor satellite campuses. Perhaps UAF’s research will enable its graduate school to survive in some form.
3. Other than a few scholarship athletes, I do not foresee anyone from outside Alaska wishing to attend One UA. Overall, the Alaska brain drain will accelerate.
Certainly the governor — and I believe many on the Board of Regents (notably not the student regent) — have conflated “efficiency” (dollars per student spent) with “effectiveness” (positive outcomes for Alaska).
The One UA model may have been the most-efficient presented to the regents, but I do not think it is the most effective, regardless of what the final UA budget looks like. Some version of UAF = University of California system and UAA-UAS = California State system, with separate governing structures, seems most effective to me for both Alaska and the future of Fairbanks.