University of Alaska task force looking at potential restructure of UA system

The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents, as well as officials from UAA, listen to public testimony from students affected by UAA’s loss of accreditation for its education department.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents, as well as representatives from the University of Alaska Anchorage, assemble for a meeting on the UAA education program, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

A University of Alaska task force will look at options for restructuring the UA system. The Board of Regents voted last month to form the task force.

Regents chair John Davies has appointed 11 Alaskans to the group charged with considering at least four restructure options.

Davies said the “status quo” option would keep the three universities under one system.

“And then there’s a lead university model, where each university would specialize more than they do now,” Davies said. “And then there’s a single accreditation option where we could go to having all three universities combined under one administration. And then the fourth option would be three independent universities with separate administrations.”

Davies said the task force analysis will reflect anticipated state funding reductions and instruction from the Alaska Legislature to consider a single accreditation model.

”We want to take a look at that,” Davies said. “And of course, there’s always a trade-off issue: Are the savings worth the cost of the programs?”

Davies noted that the task force will able to draw on past and current downsizing and restructure analysis and initiatives, including UA 2040, a plan for improved online access.

”A single portal website that any student, anywhere in the state, can log in to and get information about all the programs that are available across the entire state, to break down some of the silos that exist now,” Davies said.

Davies underscores the importance of the task force’s work given the real effects of ongoing uncertainty about the university’s future.

”People are making choices to go elsewhere,” Davies said. “Students are deciding to go outside. And faculty are looking around to see if they have better options.”

The 11-member task force includes the following members:

  • Former UA Regent Jo Heckman
  • UA Regent Sheri Buretta
  • Alyeska Pipeline Service Company President Tom Barrett
  • Doyon Ltd. President and CEO Aaron Schutt
  • Former Northrim Bank board of directors chair Joe Beedle
  • Former Alaska state legislator Reggie Joule
  • Retired UA faculty members Terrence Cole of UAF, Cathy Connor of UAS and Gunnar Knapp of UAA
  • Former UA executive Wendy Redman
  • Former Student Regent Joey Sweet

The task force, which will hold public meetings around the state, has to get a final report to regents by November.

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