To the editor: The current petition to remove the president of the University of Alaska is the latest unfortunate example of infighting across the university system. This particular petition is led by the faculty union that I belong to but is just one of many efforts over the past year that pits one part of the university against another. Infighting between faculty and administration — and infighting between campuses — is not going to help achieve the new university model that is inevitably coming. As the university consolidates to adapt to unprecedented times, the best solutions must be able to pull together the best elements from all parts of the system.
What is missing from much of the current dialogue is respect. We must respect the unique contributions from UA’s three major campuses, the many rural campuses, and, yes, even the statewide office. We must respect that the new university model needs to leverage the best of each of these. This starts by respecting the people who have worked hard to build all of these units. Many faculty are going to lose their jobs. Many administrators are going to lose their jobs. Too many staff have already lost their jobs. We need solemn respect for the numerous careers that will be sacrificed to achieve the new university model. The infighting of the past year is the opposite of this respect. It is embarrassing and it does not show our better side.
I ask the Board of Regents to chastise groups who are clearly stoking the infighting flames. The regents should discount the input of groups that fail to respect the unique talents and contributions of other units and campuses.
By now it should also be clear to the regents and others that we are not going to achieve the new university model through consensus. This is one of those moments in history when swift decisive leadership can make us stronger down the road. I fear that without bold decisive leadership from the regents — or if that can’t happen, leadership from our state legislators — we are going to strangle ourselves into irrelevance. That would be the most unfortunate outcome of all.