UA plan focuses on campus strengths

The University of Alaska Board of Regents and university President Jim Johnsen have agreed on a framework to restructure the system’s campuses at a time when saving money is paramount.

“Each main campus — Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau — will focus its research, teaching and service on its unique strengths, capabilities, advantages and opportunities. “The ‘lead campus’ model will eliminate duplication and strengthen degree programs, reduce duplicative administration and put a greater emphasis on delivery of courses through technology,” Johnsen said in a formal statement.

The draft strategic outline resulted from a two-day regents work session held in Anchorage Jan. 21-22.

The unrestricted General Fund portion of the University of Alaska’s budget has been cut significantly in recent years and Gov. Bill Walker’s 2017 fiscal year budget would cut it by another $15 million, to $335 million next year.

Under the university plan, the University of Alaska Anchorage, for example, would focus on workforce development in nursing and lead economic and policy sciences research, a UA release states.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks would focus on technological and engineering research — its historic strengths; and the Southeast campus would focus on interdisciplinary studies and programs to support the maritime and mining industries.

General education classes required as prerequisites for most all coursework would still be available at all campuses, according to the university system.

“While this will have impacts on students, communities and university employees, restructuring will preserve excellent and diverse program options across the system and respond to the unprecedented reductions in our budget,” Johnsen said. “The board of regents and university leadership believe this is the best way to use increasingly scarce resources to meet the needs of students and our state.”

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