The University of Alaska Board of Regents has endorsed UA President Jim Johnsen’s plan to restructure the university system, as it faces continuing declines in state funding.
UA President Jim Johnsen presented the framework for the plan at a 2-day work session last week. He says it will streamline and increase efficiency across the university system.
“Focusing each one of our major campuses, our universities, UAS in Southeast, UAA in Anchorage and UAF in Fairbanks, focusing them on where they’re strong already; where they already have a competitive niche; where there’s a great deal of excellence; where there’s faculty capacity; and focusing each one of them somewhat differently to hit our state’s high priority needs,” Johnsen said.
Though the details are not set in stone, a press release suggests UAF could focus on technology, engineering and mathematics; UAA on nursing and economic and policy sciences; and UAS could take the lead in mining and marine programs.
The University of Alaska offers 478 degree and certificate programs. And Johnsen says the idea with the plan is to reduce the redundancies between campuses. But, he says some of those redundancies will need to remain in place.
“There would be more specialization, and that way we can have strength and excellence in a more diverse set of fields, actually, while at the same time making as common as possible things like our general education requirements, and email systems, and support systems and things like that,” he said.
Having things like a common set of general education requirements at each campus will make it easier for students to transfer between programs and campuses within the UA system.
The Board of Regents unanimously approved the President’s framework plan. But, Regent Chair Jo Heckman says there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“It’s gonna be awhile before we see an actual implementation, because the devil is in the details, and a lot of details have to be worked out,” Heckman said.
There are no estimates yet on exactly how much this plan could save the university. And full implementation is still years away.
The Board of Regents will take up discussion on the plan again at their meeting in Fairbanks on Feb. 18-19.