What others say: Study casts doubt on single accreditation as option for savings

  • Monday, August 8, 2016 9:30pm
  • Opinion

The University of Alaska is in a difficult position. Facing budget cuts that have extended and deepened for multiple years, the state’s higher education system is looking at extreme measures to reduce its costs, as legislators have sent signals that further cuts may well be in the offing. Fortunately for the system and the state, however, the Legislature restored some of its budget in the current year, avoiding the deeper cuts that would have forced quick action with little time to consider whether the changes being made were wise. A report released last week shows that having the time to consider alternatives before acting could save the state money and maintain the quality of education.

In addition to UA President Jim Johnsen’s Strategic Pathways plan that aims to focus the academic mission of university campuses by reducing duplication, the system was considering a move to single-accreditation. Currently, the system’s three major campuses — Fairbanks, Anchorage and Southeast — are accredited and managed separately. Critics say that separate accreditation adds unnecessary bureaucracy. But last week’s study shed doubt on that premise: Because much of each campus’ administration would still be needed to manage day-to-day operations, savings would be modest at best, and the time and disruption the change would cause might well make the process a negative one for the state, not only in dollars spent but also in the quality of education the university offers.

If money hadn’t been restored to the UA system late in the Legislature’s budgeting process, the extreme cuts proposed earlier in the legislative session might have forced the university to go ahead with the single-accreditation plan before finding out it wouldn’t save money or improve efficiency in a meaningful way.

And the internal report did have some good news. It indicated that campus staff aren’t entrenched in their camps for the sake of defending turf, and that their widespread opposition to single accreditation is rooted in the potential for a single-accreditation move to be detrimental to academic standards. The elimination of program duplication and the academic focusing that are part of President Johnsen’s Strategic Pathways plan appear more likely to yield savings without unduly harming the university’s academic mission or the education experience of its students, and the study found staff and administrators are more receptive to changes of that nature.

Changes are clearly necessary for the university, but they shouldn’t be undertaken without weighing their costs against their benefits, whether the plan is single accreditation, Strategic Pathways or another plan. The university deserves credit for considering its steps before taking them, and legislators deserve credit for restoring funds to allow the university time to do so.


— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Aug. 7, 2016

More in Opinion

Promise garden flowers are assembled for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Let’s keep momentum in the fight against Alzheimer’s

It’s time to reauthorize these bills to keep up our momentum in the fight to end Alzheimer’s and all other types of Dementia.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., questions Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 14 on Capitol Hill.
Opinion: Music to the ears of America’s adversaries

Russia and China have interest in seeing America’s democracy and standing in the world weakened

Dr. Sarah Spencer. (Photo by Maureen Todd and courtesy of Dr. Sarah Spencer)
Opinion: Alaskans needs better access to addiction treatment. Telehealth can help.

I have witnessed firsthand the struggles patients face in accessing addiction care

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski speaks on a range of subjects during an interview with the Juneau Empire in May 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Need for accounting and legislative oversight of the permanent fund

There is a growing threat to the permanent fund, and it is coming from the trustees themselves

(Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Imagine the cost of health and happiness if set by prescription drug companies

If you didn’t have heartburn before seeing the price, you will soon — and that requires another prescription

Mike Arnold testifies in opposition to the use of calcium chloride by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities on Kenai Peninsula roads during a Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Peninsula Votes: Civic actions that carried weight

Watching an impressive display of testimony, going to an event, or one post, can help so many people learn about something they were not even aware of

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Helicopter fishing a detriment to fish and fishers

Proposal would prohibit helicopter transport for anglers on southern peninsula

The cover of the October 2023 edition of Alaska Economic Trends magazine, a product of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. (Image via department website)
Dunleavy administration’s muzzling of teacher pay report is troubling

Alaska Economic Trends is recognized both in Alaska and nationally as an essential tool for understanding Alaska’s unique economy

Image via weseeyou.community
5 tips for creating a culture of caring in our high schools

Our message: No matter what challenges you’re facing, we see you. We support you. And we’re here for you.

The Alaska State Capitol is photographed in Juneau, Alaska. (Clarise Larson/Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Vance’s bill misguided approach to Middle East crisis

In arguing for her legislation, Vance offers a simplistic, one-dimensional understanding of the conflict

A rainbow appears over downtown as residents check out rows of electric vehicles at Juneau’s EV & E-bike Roundup on Sept. 23. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: We should all pay more for the privilege of driving

Alaska has the lowest gas tax in the country

Opinion: Sports saves

ASAA has decided to take a vulnerable subgroup of these youth and reinforce that they are different and unwelcome