University of Alaska weighs options for academic programs

FAIRBANKS (AP) — The University of Alaska has released dozens of options for restructuring academic and administrative programs as part of its ongoing budget review process.

The options released Friday are part of UA’s second of three planned phases that come in response to years of cuts in state funding. The first phase consolidated the university system’s three teacher education programs into a single program at the Juneau campus, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The latest phase covers the restructuring of UA’s health and nursing, fisheries, online learning and community campuses programs. It also focuses on administrative functions including human resources, university relations, student services and institutional research.

Teams of administrators, faculty and staff have reviewed the four academic programs and four administrative programs and produced reports detailing possible changes. The options range from making no changes at all to the programs to consolidating multiple programs into one.

“This is a dynamic process and we’re learning and improving as we go,” said UA President Jim Johnsen in a statement. “One of the things we’ve learned over the past few months is to pursue a more focused approach to reviewing options and soliciting input from the affected programs as well as from university governance and community leaders.”

One option calls for UA’s community campuses program to partner with tribes and Alaska Native groups to form tribal colleges, which could create new streams of federal funding. One of the most drastic options would, if implemented, transform campuses into learning centers where there would be no teaching staff. Only distance delivery teaching or occasional onsite visits would be available.

The UA board of regents is scheduled to hear testimony on the proposals next month, review the options in March and make a final decision on the options in June.

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